‘The peoples yogi’: how Adriene Mishler became a YouTube phenomenon
With 4 million subscribers and hundreds of thousands more watching free weekly videos, Yoga with Adriene is a social media sensation. What makes her fans so devoted?
There are more than 2,400 people in the main hall of Alexandra Palace in north London, breathing in unison. Take the deepest breath youve taken all day, says the woman at the front, and let it out through the mouth. Lungs empty en masse. It feels like were in the belly of a beast.
The woman is 33-year-old yogi and actor Adriene Mishler, and this is the largest live yoga class she has ever held she is more frequently to be found teaching alone in front of her camera at home in Austin, Texas, than IRL. And it is this intimate version of her that 4 million subscribers to her Yoga with Adriene YouTube channel have come to know and share their homes with.
Her particularly popular videos Yoga Morning Fresh, for instance, or 7-Minute Bedtime Yoga can get upwards of 2 million viewers. Search yoga on Google, and Adriene dominates.
You just want to be her friend, says Magdalena Krohn, a 32-year-old teacher and performance artist who is at the Ally Pally event, queueing for a cashew curry. Karen Bradley, a 56-year-old health visitor, has travelled from Sheffield to see Adriene. Fifty-year-old civil servant Julie Ashen says she is not that brilliant with people, but has nevertheless travelled from Swansea to see Adriene in this setting. You must love her, I say. I do. Shes quite a phenomenon.
When I tell friends I am meeting Adriene, they get a zealous look in their eyes: Im not hyperbolising when I say she changed my life, more than one confesses and I know theyre not, because she changed mine, too. Maybe its simplistic, but there is a lot to be said for being gently cajoled into focusing on the feeling of the soles of your feet on the yoga mat, when anxious thoughts have been jolting like runaway trains through your mind all day.
We meet the day before the event, over an on-brand turmeric latte in an east London cafe. In real life, Adriene is as enthusiastic as her on-screen self peppy yet sage, welcoming and warm. I mention this special alchemy that has fans talking about her as if shes a friend. Yeah, and we are, she says immediately, as though she feels it too. Whenever I meet people, Im always like: Holy shit, its such an honour I get to be in peoples homes, their most vulnerable place. Her chat is peppered with talk of blessings and angels, but I would challenge even the most cynical-hearted not to want to get a second round of lattes in.