I’m just going to say up front that this is not one of those posts about the ~*Miracle Of Yoga*~ and how doing yoga will cure illness, clear your skin, and make your crops grow. I’m not that kind of girl. But it is a post about a specific purveyor of yoga, and how I think watching her & practicing with her has made my life better. If you’re interested in that kind of thing, I’ll meet you after the jump.
I’ve never been the athletic type. I took dance and gymnastics classes as a kid, but I never was into team sports. By the time I hit middle school, gym class easily topped the list of my least favorite subjects. I’ve tried to get into running with zero success. People would talk to me about “exercise endorphins,” and I would be like, “Why are you lying to me right now?” The only thing working out had ever made me was sweaty and slightly queasy.
Despite my love of all things sparkly and magical, I’m a pretty pragmatically minded person by nature. Honestly, I’d always thought of yoga as a little bit “woo woo” for my tastes. But I knew that the one part of gym class or any exercise routine I’d ever actually enjoyed was stretching. And yoga is a lot of stretching, right? I started searching around Youtube for videos for beginners, and that’s how I found Yoga With Adriene.
When I talk about Yoga With Adriene (which I do…kind of a lot), I find myself talking about Adriene like she’s a personal friend. “Adriene says that how your body feels is more important than forcing yourself into what the pose is ‘supposed’ to be,” I tell people confidently, as though she and I had been discussing yoga practice over coffee earlier that day. “Adriene says that just by coming to the mat and setting aside time for yourself, you’re already doing something great.”
Adriene and I don’t chat over soy milk lattes. Adriene talks to me from my TV while I sweat on the floor alone in my apartment, but that doesn’t make her presence any less soothing. She’s the perfect antidote to any irrepressibly perky yoga instructor who you’ve ever been intimidated by – she’s chill and accepting, always positive but with a wry sense of humor. She offers a variety of modifications for moves and always reminds you to do what feels right for you in the moment. Her dog sometimes hangs out off to the side (and sometimes invades the mat). She makes corny jokes, and tells you that you’re her hero, and I’ve never doubted that Adriene would be proud of me for doing my best, no matter what my best looks like on that particular day.
And let’s be real – my best ain’t great. No shame, just the truth. There’s nothing Instagram-worthy going on here. I’m not that flexible, and I usually start flagging by the end of a video. I’m sure my form is a mess. But doing yoga at home, with Adriene, is something easy, free, and good that I can do for myself. It gives me a break from the stresses and stimulations of the world to be quiet inside my own head. It gives me a chance to move and stretch and even get sweaty. Sure, sometimes I end up with a stray piece of tinsel stuck to my thigh (where does it come from???), but it’s rewarding to make a good choice for my mental and physical health, no matter how simple.
One thing I super appreciate about Adriene’s channel is, though she does have a playlist of “Yoga for Weight Loss” videos, on the whole, weight and/or body is very seldom a topic of conversation in her videos. She acknowledges that everyone has different goals for doing yoga, whether that be for mindfulness or building strength or, sure, weight loss, and even occasionally challenges you to forget about those external goals and focus on the sensation of your practice. It’s a nice break from a lot of the “OOH ULTRA FAT BURNING AB BLASTER” business that a lot of fitness gurus peddle.
I started off with this Yoga for Complete Beginners video, which I’d definitely recommend for anyone who wants to try things out. Another video that I come back to a lot when I’m not necessarily feeling up for a full practice is this nice, calming Yoga for Bedtime video. The reason I was inspired to write this post, which you may have seen me mention on Instagram, is that I recently completed TRUE – A 30 Day Yoga Journey. Doing yoga for 30 days straight was an awesome challenge for me, and while I don’t think I can keep up with that pace throughout the year, it reconfirmed my desire to keep yoga a regular part of my routine.
It’s annoying that yoga has kind of become the poster child of well-intentioned but ultimately useless mental health advice, because…will yoga fix you? No. (Unless your problem is…not doing enough yoga, I guess?) But can it be a good tool in your toolbelt of life to help you remember to take time for yourself, practice mindfulness, and feel more present in your body? Heck yeah.