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Yoga with Adriene – how Adriene Mishler conquered YouTube

If you google yoga and YouTube, at the very top of search results will be ‘Yoga with Adriene‘.

The host of this channel is Adriene Mishler, who hails from Austin, Texas. She started posting online yoga tutorials onto YouTube back in 2012, and now has four million subscribers and hundreds of thousands of viewers who religiously tune in for her free weekly videos.

But who is Adriene? Why does she have a boy’s name? And how did this relatively inexperienced young girl from Texas become one of the most watched and influential yoga teachers in the world? Here’s her story.

How it all started

She was a young yoga teacher and actor who was juggling two yoga businesses (one for adults and one for kids), while trying to continue with her acting career, when she met a producer called Chris Sharpe, on the set of a ‘horrible B movie’.  He had already had success with a YouTube channel called Hilah Cooking and he was looking to expand into the wellness industry. He suggested a YouTube channel to Adriene, and they set about filming a few months later.

They both admit that the first couple of videos they shot were never uploaded onto the site. Adriene was confident about performing in front of the camera – being an actress – and also felt sure about the yoga she wanted to teach – simple – but when she put the two together, it was just a bit too actress-y.

In an interview with Chris himself, Adriene admits that it was very useful to have Chris’ outside eye to let her know when she was talking too much, or taking too long, or not being authentic enough. The third video made it to YouTube, and from the get-go, their mission was not to get their audience fit or toned, but to encourage them to use yoga to ‘find what feels good’.

Adriene’s teaching style

Adriene’s core message of ‘find what feels good’, came from the very first video she uploaded. In fact, this motto was spotted by Hilah – the star of Sharpe’s original YouTube channel, who, on seeing the video, pointed out that ‘find what feels good’ was an instruction that Adriene naturally repeated.  This phrase has gone on to become her motto and the name of her membership channel, where you can access exclusive videos and over 25 hours of digital classes.

She also hones in the basics of yoga, and her very first video started with teaching ‘sukhasana’, which is sitting cross-legged – literally ‘easy pose‘.  She genuinely felt the desire to share the feel-good aspects of yoga, as well as highlighting the importance of self-care. ‘Find what feels good’ is the key to Adriene’s style of teaching.

Good things come to those that wait

The feel and vibe of the Yoga With Adriene channel didn’t happen by accident. From the get-go, Mishler and Sharpe made conscious decisions to create something that was authentic and that had integrity.  The slightly home-spun feel to the set, the pet dog that lolls about in shot, it’s all part of the image that makes up the cosy, friendly vibe that Adriene exudes. After his success with his previous YouTube channel, Sharpe was thinking long-term and had an inkling that they had found a gap in the market that could get big.

However, it didn’t happen overnight. For the first year, they made videos every week, posted them online, and didn’t make any money at all – they used to cheer when their videos hit 100 views. Over that time Adrience didn’t worry about where the project was going, as she says in the interview with Sharpe, it was just something she felt that she was put on this earth to do.

Fast forward 6 years and she has upwards of 4 million subscribers and her most popular videos regularly get more than 2 million views. She did that by sticking to her core values, and slowly building a very devoted audience.

You’ve gotta accentuate the positive

Adriene is a blast of positive energy. She is also an antidote to the message of constantly having to change and upgrade yourself. She encourages self-acceptance and union, not only with your own body but with her. She also tried to accentuate the fact that her yoga isn’t about the physical results, but is more about the feel-good factor of looking after and being with yourself.

She is also passionate about her audience, or as she calls them, ‘kula’ (Sanskrit for community), and her kula return the sentiment – she inspires a wholehearted devotion right back.

In the comments section on her website, there are hundreds of comments thanking Adriene for her yoga. A typical example was left by ‘Melissa’, who said, ‘I do Adriene’s videos because I feel good and I like them, not because I “should” or because someone else told me to or because they’re “good for me.” I especially like that Adriene emphasizes being present and being who you are right now (being authentic). I have followed the rules all my life and lost sight of being authentic. Thank you, Adriene, for being a partner in healing.’

Business Acumen

Aside from her genuinely wholesome and caring persona, Adriene is clearly also a very canny businesswoman. Tellingly, she also describes herself as an entrepreneur. She has also found a perfect business partner in Chris Sharpe, and amazingly, they say that they’ve never butted heads while working together, but have maintained a sense of fun and harmony. She is also aware that her audience is everything, and she is genuine when she says that the whole venture is done with a lot of love.

For more about Adriene and her phenomenal rise to fame read here.

Poppy Pickles
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Zen Monkey, a sub-division of YogaLondon, is an online conduit for yoga students and teachers to share ideas and develop a catalogue of content that is informative, creative and fun. We are a community founded from the collection of writers and yogis we've mentored, worked with and been inspired by. Together, we are building a tribe that shares the tools, the inspiration and the motivation to lead a healthy, mindful and sustainable life.