Austin is home to a popular YouTube channel that’s become a lifeline for many people during the spread of the coronavirus. "Yoga with Adriene" has more than 7 million subscribers from all over the world – and its videos have been viewed more than half a billion times.
The channel’s star, Austinite Adriene Mishler, has been providing free, at-home yoga classes for almost a decade.
KUT spoke to Mishler about her channel and its impact during this unique time.
This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
KUT: I’m going to start with the first question I ask everyone these days: How are you holding up?
Mishler: Thank you so much for asking. I am holding up pretty good. I think right now at the time of this conversation, I have been home for 30 days. I just realized this morning. So, even if it’s just in my mind, I am going to use today to see if I could settle in a little more. I haven’t really felt settled.
But I am doing well. I feel like I am pretty blessed. Even though we are seeing all these unfortunate circumstances around us, it makes me feel grateful for everything that I have, especially in terms of work.
KUT: When people began self-isolating, I saw a lot of media organizations and just people on the internet share what they were using to get through that adjustment – and nine times out 10, I saw people point to your channel. I’m sure you’ve seen some of this. How do you feeling knowing that a lot of people are turning to your channel to get through all this?
Mishler: I feel more grateful than anything. I feel very indebted to the tools of yoga. I truly believe in the power tools of yoga – I am a nerd in that way.
You know, when we started this, it was just sort of the beginning of yoga in the Western wellness industry. I still have a lot to learn every day, but I feel like that is something that I have always believed in. And I have kind of known deep down inside of me that these are powerful tools that if we just had them more readily available it might really make a difference in our daily life.
KUT: I think it’s interesting how fast people have turned to social media or platforms like YouTube during all this – when maybe just a few months ago everyone was talking about how isolating social media was. I am wondering what you think of that shift?
Mishler: I don’t know if I am surprised, but I am definitely fascinated. And I feel this myself – the push and the pull. And I have felt it before.
And I think this is something to be curious about right now. I think with this shift our truths are kind of being revealed. And it’s OK for them to change. This shift has allowed me to be more curious about how I am allocating my energy.
Before, yes. I was definitely confronted about what I was doing with digital and yoga and how could that be relaxing. And to that, I spent time thinking about how this is a “plug-in to unplug” scenario, and you have to trust me. I have worked really hard and done my homework, so that I can guide people through their practice without having to be really engaged in the screen.
I am noticing all this beauty blossoming – on not just on our normal go-to platforms. I am trying out all these apps and I am engaging with so many people that I care about and I think that should be celebrated.
But I really am starting to – now one month in – crave being offline. So, at this point, I am just really fascinated and staying curious.
KUT: Do you feel like you have to kind of respond to this moment in your videos these days – do you think you have to be intentional about providing classes that are geared toward a bunch of anxious and isolated people?
Mishler: The work that we are doing is the same. It’s the same thing we were doing before this shelter in place and this whole thing happened. And I am still trying to figure out the graceful way of saying that. Of course, there have been some things that we have decided, "Oh, let’s be in the present moment."
But the truth is, the offering is kind of the same, because before this all happened I was creating videos for all those anxious people, for the people who were isolated, for the people who did not feel comfortable going out, for people who mental health was waning for whatever, for people who really needed some friendship and getting back into their body.
So, we’ve been tending to the same sort of issues we are seeing now. I would say the only difference is the amount of people experiencing them, which is really unfortunate but also beautiful that we have the tools of yoga.
I feel like we were ready for this.
KUT: Since you are on social media, I am sure you hear a lot from people who have been tuning into your channel. What are some of things you are hearing from folks?
Mishler: We are hearing a lot from people all over the world. And I think in a lot of ways it’s just the humanity in this whole process that has kept me going.
I have always tried to avoid positioning myself as the expert, because I prefer to be more of a buddy – of a friend. So, I feel like people feel compelled to write to me as a friend.
And it’s picked up over the years, of course. But we’ve definitely seen a big peak in pretty much everything in the last couple of weeks.
We are trying to prioritize questions that might need immediate attention, but of course there are the beautiful stories and photos of people just wanting to say thank you.
I think there is this strong tone of unity and humanity. I know that sounds crazy, but you can feel it.
KUT: What are you doing to keep yourself sane these days? What’s your "Yoga with Adriene"? Is there any podcast, TV shows or books you are turning to right now?
Mishler: I am stellar at self-care, but I am finding out I am not good at all at slowing down. In fact, I think I might be terrible at that. That was a big wake-up call for myself. In the beginning, I felt like I should always be doing something.
But I have had the opportunity now to slow down and chill out. So I have been reading for pleasure. I just finished a big chunky Steinbeck novel and just moved on to this beautiful new Jenny Offill book called Weather that has been sitting there staring at me for a while. I have been enjoying poetry in the morning and evening. This reminds me of college, because back then I had nothing but time.
I have also been doing Ryan Heffington’s dance party on Instagram. I started that the first week I think, and I invited my friends through text and email and then through social media with the community to join. And now I feel like everyone is dancing all together. You get a good sweat.
Also, outside of cooking more, I have started a little garden!
Got a tip? Email Ashley Lopez at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @AshLopezRadio.
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