Yoga With Adriene, Titan of Online Yoga, is as Wonderful to Chat With as You’d Hope

by Daisy

If you’ve ever propped up your laptop on the coffee table, put down a mat—or a beach towel—on your living room floor and cued up a stretching video to work out the kinks of the day, chances are you’ve come across Yoga by Adriene.

The Austin, Texas-based titan of online yoga, Adriene Mishler, has amassed a following of 12.7 million on her YouTube channel since she posted her first video in September 2012, and has the considerably more polished production to prove it.


The extensive Yoga With Adriene video library means you can find everything from a full hour of power flow to a 23-minute upper-back session guaranteed to straighten you out after a day of hunching over your keyboard like a sad question mark. But it’s Mishler’s droll humor and relaxed approach that keeps you coming back—she’ll break into song mid-instruction or describe a fist-over-fist position as bubble gum, bubble gum in a dish. The gentle presence of her Blue Heeler mix, Benji, stretching nearby or ambling over to sit on her feet, adds to the low-key charm.


On July 6, Mishler will be in Toronto to teach a live, outdoor Yoga With Adriene class at Fort York, presented by The Bentway. We reached her via phone, at home in Austin.


What was it about the offer to teach a class to thousands of people in the middle of the city appealed to you?
“My background in theatre, to be honest. The irony is I do have this big online situation where we can come together and practice virtually, but my heart really is in live gatherings and experiences, and that magic that only can be cultivated when people come together in real time. I haven’t been doing anything like this since before 2020, so this is definitely an exciting moment for me as well. I feel a little nervous. It’s a lot of people to care for. But we don’t treat it like a big fitness class at all. We treat it like this interdisciplinary, site-specific moment.”

Have you been to Toronto before?

“This is my first trip to Canada, actually! I have heard so many great things about Toronto. And it’s my hope to bring awareness and energy to The Bentway, this non-profit arts organization. Their theme this year is Softer City, and I was just like, ‘OK, yeah, count me in.’ One of the things I am interested in slipping into the practice while we’re there is just how powerful creating softness for ourselves can be, no matter our environment. The message I get [from our culture] is like, let’s get shit done, let’s go hard. And so anytime we can lean into softness, I think that equips us to have this, like, collective repair.”

What do you remember about recording your very first Yoga with Adriene videos?

“The real first videos weren’t ever used because they were almost like practice videos. I wonder if they’ll come out someday and be really embarrassing. I took it very seriously. I didn’t really have a lot of examples to look at.”

At the beginning, it almost felt like you were filming in your hallway. And then you did a 30-day challenge in this glass palace overlooking a forest and I was like, she’s so fancy now!
“When we did that 30-day yoga journey in the space with the glass windows, everyone thought that was my new house. Like, I wish. The reason you see different spaces for the 30 days is you’re clocking a lot of hours filming. For two weeks, you’re just in it, and there’s set-up that takes up the whole living room. And so, as soon as I had a little bit more cash, we started considering doing those projects in a rental house just to give us some space.

But we really did begin in my little bungalow in East Austin. I was working with what I had, and when I moved, same thing, I just wanted to keep it as real as possible, not feel very produced, be at home. We just started releasing videos filmed in my new home; my and my husband’s first home here in Austin.”

How is Benji?

“You know, just this morning I was like, he’s looking really healthy and happy and that brought me a noticeable moment of happiness and joy because he is getting older. I have, as many people I know have, experienced a loss of a beloved animal, a best friend, and so I can’t help but start to think about that. But he’s doing great and he really does deserve all the attention. I used to think, ‘Oh, we need to put the puppy out while we film,’ until one day I couldn’t get anyone to watch him and so he was in the videos. Then everyone started commenting about him, so I was like, ‘OK, that’s it. I’ll just let him do his thing.’ He’s just such a darling soul. He loves to be close. They actually call Blue Heelers the Velcro dog because they love to be attached.”

Like many people, I started doing your videos a lot more in the pandemic when yoga studios closed. What was that time like for you?

“It was intense. I also co-own a physical studio here in Austin, called Practice Yoga. So in a strange way I was experiencing both sides. I’m proud of how we focused on our teachers to ensure that they were cared for because they were obviously not making money at the studio. We held a live monthly yoga class on Zoom to support the studio. We still do it once a quarter and I never take any money from it, we give it all to the studio.

As far as the online side goes, there was an honestly wild influx of online yoga that I had thankfully already been doing for some time. I’m afraid to say I went hard during that time, saying yes to everything from leading yoga on major newscasts to virtual retreats. We had so many friends and family members who were not working and it was kind of strange to have the antithesis of that; to be working around the clock. I probably wouldn’t change that, it felt good to show up in that way, but I definitely did experience a little personal burnout in 2022. I forgot to be soft with myself.”

When you became more online, did you find people expected more of you?

“Yeah, 100 per cent. I feel the standards that people hold me to are often, maybe, a little unrealistic. But at the same time, I love that in particular the people who are actually practicing with me hold the bar high in terms of how am I going to use my voice and my platform. I mean, that’s what good friends do. But good friends also give you a little bit of space to be human and to grow.

I will be honest with you, there have been seasons where I feel so much pressure from the internet to try to meet everyone’s expectations. The channel’s over 12 million. I think now I’m starting, with the help of a wonderful therapist, to give myself permission to zoom out and realize I’m never going to hit the mark for 12 million people all at once. But I can continue to do my best by showing up authentically, ideally always in pursuit of being of service to someone, even if it’s just one person that day and not all of them.”

What are you doing when you’re not on our screens?

“I have a lot of great friends here in Austin and my mom and dad live here. After recovering from a little season of burnout, it’s been really nice to nurture my relationships. I love to move; I really actually love to do yoga, I love to take long walks with Benji every day. And I enjoy a lot of Pilates Reformer here in my community. It’s very breath-oriented and it’s really nice for me to go and not be the teacher or the guide but be the student.

I’m also currently in a three-year yoga therapy program. I feel like a lot of what I do is already therapeutic but this will give me the proper training to take this ancient practice and help it reach more nooks and crannies of our health care.”

Recently, I had a really sore wrist and for a few days I was worried that I might not be able to do yoga again. Have you ever felt that?

“For me, it was a tailbone injury when I was in my twenties. I remember thinking, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’m never going to be able to do yoga ever again.’ You kind of panic, right? Something I remind students and friends and myself all the time is, ‘Hey, don’t forget your body is excellent at healing, so just keep that in your pocket.’ When people write in about an injury, I usually say, ‘Hey, great opportunity to work on your breath.’ I know that’s not what people are looking for. They’re looking for, like, what video should I do while I have a broken foot. I can provide that too. But this is an opportunity for you to nerd out on other aspects of yoga that could keep your physical practice more interesting when you come back to it. Now, I’m almost 40 and I’m doing boat pose—the tailbone healed.”

I just wanted to say that I loved your Danielle Frankel wedding dress—the pleats, the low back!

“Thank you so much! I was like trying to be the laidback bride, you know, but I’m also a stickler for details and meaning. And so I kept coming back to Danielle and to her team and I was like, it’s got to be this. They were so amazing to work with. I didn’t want to leave a big carbon footprint on this thing, so it was made-to-order.”

The theme of your latest 30-day series was CENTER, but your fans probably know you best for encouraging them to find what feels good. Have you figured out what feels good to you?

“I love the experience of being a student, having those first-time feelings over and over again. That’s a big part of my continued practice: always being a student. And there’s no end, you know? You can’t go to the store and get ‘The Good Feeling,’ right? You have to keep showing up and asking yourself what feels good. What was good for me five years ago is not the same. And I think that is a nice way of embodying the [Softer City] theme of not just giving yourself permission to pause, but permission to be soft, to continue to feel those first-time feelings and invite yourself into the present moment.”


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