Adriene Mishler | Biography & Teachings Of A 21st Century Yoga Guru

In the wake of the virtual wellness age, Adriene Mishler stands with grace and humility, rooted in her mountain pose as one of the most influential yoga teachers of our times. 

After serendipitously and intentionally building a digital yoga empire in 2012, she (and her best friend Benji the dog), stood center stage during the 2020 global pandemic to lead millions around the world through yoga from the comfort of their home. 

She is what the New York Times has called arguably the most prominent yoga figure in the United States since Ram Dass. 

This Article Will Cover:

  • Adriene Mishler’s Young Life 
  • Her Young Adult Life & Spirituality
  • Previous Careers
  • Early Beginnings In Yoga 
  • Teaching Style and Contributions To Yoga At Large
  • Adriene Mishler’s Influences
  • Impact On Minority Communities
  • 30-days of Yoga Impact 
  • Manduka Collaboration
  • Find What Feels Good Network
  • Adriene Mishler’s Advice To New or Aspiring Yoga Teachers
  • Adriene Mishler’s Teaching Rituals

Many yogi masters have graced the western yoga scene but none like Adriene Mishler, who has revolutionized the way people from all walks of life access yoga and practice mindfulness.

Adriene Mishler’s Young Life 

Adriene Louise Mishler was born on September 29 1984 in Austin Texas.

The child of two thespians, she grew up a single child in a creatively rich and nurturing environment. Her mother is of Mexican descent making Adriene half-Mexican. 

Both of her parents met while acting and worked at the Mary Moody Northen Theatre where her mom was a Theater professor by day and a Theater Director by night. 

Adriene has referred to this theater in previous interviews as her childhood playpen using the university’s model replica of the theater to create different sets and plays with her toys. 

She was imaginative and inquisitive from a young age and loved to read voraciously as a young child.

Little Adriene had serious aspirations to be a primate biologist. However, even at an early age, she says she always saw herself as an actress. 

Given her experiences as a young child, what the greeks call fate might best help explain Adriene’s life course.

Movement

Artistic and athletic by nature, Adriene grew up dancing ballet and tap jazz, doing gymnastics, taking piano lessons, and attending horseback riding camp. 

She has said in previous interviews it wasn’t until she started to teach yoga that she realized how uncomfortable and scary being upside down could make people feel. This is an impressive fact given how accessible and beginner friendly her yoga videos are known to be.

I felt for a kid my age, I was in my body, probably more than other kids my age.

Adriene Mishler

Acting

In an interview with Light Watkins, Adriene reflected on the innate calling to perform as a young child though not aware of it at the time.

Adriene has shared how growing up her family couldn’t afford a video camera. However, every once in a while when her mom had one rented out for a project she was working on for the university, little Adriene would set it up and record herself doing bit after bit just for the camera. 

She started performing in musical theater as a preteen and recalls missing a lot of school as a kid. She remembers feeling eager to spread her wings and fly in pursuit of her creative expression.

At the age of 17 decided to obtain her GED and immediately started college to order to tour with Siti Theater Company.

She would go on to graduate from St. Edwards University (a catholic school) with a degree in film and acting. She still considers herself an actress and has starred in big-picture films like “Joe” alongside Nicholas Cage.

Adriene Mishler’s Young Adult Life and Spirituality 

Adriene has spoken about her affinity for books, language and her dreams of being a writer.

She grew up in a Catholic and Christian home. In her early teen years, Mishler’s parents separated, and around this time she recalls she and her mom developing a church and bookstore ritual.

This would lead her to find the prose and poetry that has carried her through to present day. Sufi poetry was the one that called her heart the most with one of her favorites being the great Sufi poet Hafiz

This bookstore is still one of her favorite places to visit as a self-love ritual.

Her Early Beginnings In Yoga 

Adriene was introduced to yoga by her parents at an early age. However, she truly found yoga freshman year of college at the age of 17 after coming back from theater training with Siti Theater Company. 

She wanted to feel stronger in her body and decided to take a kundalini yoga class for college credit. She also took studio classes in Austin that were Hatha/ vinyasa based. 

Shortly after, at 18, Adriene enrolled in her first Hatha teacher training to make some additional income to support her acting career. This first 200-hour teacher training was extended out to 4 years due to other commitments with acting and school. 

Tenacious Adriene

Before selling out stadiums, Adriene’s teaching stages were at the YMCA, in the lobby of her old theater studio (Salvage Vanguard Theater), and at an art co-op.

She also rented her own space from a theater house where hardly any students showed up and many that did only came because she advertised it as free and donation based.

A Leap Of Faith

When she started filming Yoga With Adriene she was working full-time as a drama teacher, a nanny, and a professional actress.

When the channel started to require more of her attention she was being offered a steady 9-5 job with benefits but she decided to turn it down and pursue Yoga With Adriene full-time instead.

“I knew I wanted to teach yoga professionally, to share that with as many people as possible, and I spent a lot of time training as an actor. My training focused on vocal work, so there were ties, always, between the physicality of that training and vocal work, which is all about breath and yoga. Looking back now, I’m certainly able to see the beautiful cross-connect.”

Adriene Mishler

Previous Careers 

Adriene has said that many people would be shocked to know the number of jobs she has worked in her lifetime.

To name a few she has worked at an ice cream shop, as a backstage tech, as a house cleaner, as a nanny, as a teacher, a voice actress, as an actress actively going to auditions, and of course a yoga teacher. 

Adriene has said at the heart of it she was cultivating relationships in any work setting instead of just transactional ones.

“Alot of what I did during my twenties, I look back on and i’m like “wow. people trusted me big time with their everything.” Keys to the costume shop, keys to the house, folding laundry and putting it in drawers. I was thinking, not only do people trust me with the keys to their home but they trust me with their home and with the things they leave out, metaphorically and literally. I had a lot of keys basically. I had a lot of keys on my keychain.”

Adriene Mishler
(At the end of the tunnel interview with Light Watkins)

Now, The Teachings Of Yoga With Adriene Begin 

Adriene met her future business partner, Chris Sharpe, while on set for a movie called Spider Babies, where Adriene was a female lead. This film ended up getting scrapped but their connection remained.

Yoga With Adriene

Chris pitched the yoga youtube channel idea to Adriene causally via email just to get her thoughts on it. Adriene thought it would be a cool idea to pursue and that it might give her some side money to pay her phone bill and nothing more. 

The first Yoga With Adriene video premiered in September 2012. Adriene would have been around 27 years old at the time.  

At first, no one watched their videos but they were consistent which Adriene says was a driving force behind their success. By the end of 2014, their follower count had grown to 150,000 followers.

This was when Mishler and her team started to realize they were on to something. Fast forward to 2022 and their follower count currently stands at 11.6 million and growing.

Adriene Mishler’s Influences 

Adriene doesn’t credit her yoga teaching style to any particular yoga teacher or yoga program.

Instead, she credits a lot of it to the Austin theater community, her mother, Mr. Rogers, kids yoga, and the Suzuki Method- an intense physical and vocal training for theater professionals. 

Her mother

Adriene credits her mom as the guiding force behind her teaching spirit and for always pushing her to dream big. Her mother, Melba Martinez, is an artist, director, and actress herself. She is one of the first of her 12 siblings to graduate college and currently holds 3 Ph. Ds in academia and art.

Mr. Rogers

When conceptualizing Yoga With Adriene, she and her business partner Chris took inspiration from the warm TV personality.

They particularly loved how Mr. Roger’s felt like an invisible production. 

Some have even referred to her as the Mr. Rogers of yoga, or rather, Miss Rogers.

Kids Yoga

Because Adriene’s introduction into the world of teaching yoga was first done with kiddos she credits a lot of her teaching style and approach to teaching kids.

This is evident in her gentle and invitational language and imaginative visuals that tap into all of our inner children. 

The Suzuki Method 

Adriene attended this training while still in high school. It is all about alignment and breath control which mirrors the yoga she now shares in a way. She defines this as a pivotal moment in her life leading her to commit to pursuing an artistic path.

Adriene Mishler’s teaching style and contributions to yoga at large

High-Quality Free At-home Yoga For All

Though not in person, she has touched millions of her students around the world with her online teachings.

Like many famous yoga gurus who are only now known by their students through their teachings and books, most of Adriene’s students know her only virtually.

Come as you are

Adriene wanted to deliver yoga to the people who were getting it the least, not the ones who were getting it the most.

Passionate about making Yoga accessible to those in marginalized underrepresented communities she committed to keeping her yoga offerings entirely free and accessible for those who might be struggling with mental health issues or rigidity in the body.

An Invitation To Community

Unlike many mainstream yoga teachers who might instruct you to “sweat it out”, Adriene invites you to find what feels good and move with ease, love, and tender care.

Her classes rather than 1-hour vinyasa sequences range from 10 to 45 minutes and are themed “yoga for the hips” or “yoga for anxiety and stress”.

Ultimately, her teachings center around community. Community with the global network of students practicing at home with you and most importantly, community with yourself.

Impact On Minority communities

When Adriene began teaching yoga back in the early 2000s, it was mostly only accessible in affluent communities. This made it inaccessible to the people in marginalized minority communities who might need it the most.

Many in these communities, myself included, claim they never thought to be able to do yoga because they weren’t flexible enough- that is until Adriene came along.

Scroll down on one of her youtube yoga videos and you will find hundreds of comments from students all around the world claiming Adriene saved their life.

The mission of Yoga With Adriene is to offer as much high-quality free yoga to as many people as possible. She makes sure viewers know they don’t need a yoga mat or fancy yoga tights. Just their breath, their body, and themselves.

An Activist In The Community

Adriene is a steward of social justice and uses her platform to uplift underrepresented communities by raising awareness on important social and political issues such as voting rights and racial equality.

She’s been known to share her platform with minority influencers who promote anti-racism and activism through spiritual wellness. She believes in fostering opportunities for young people in particular young women who might struggle to find their voice.

I wanted to create an opportunity for people who are getting yoga the least, rather than those who are getting it the most. For years, nobody paid attention. Nobody cared, truly. But I was consistent and I stayed true to my original intention. Young women – all young people – must cultivate a relationship with their own inner voice. It took me a while to figure that out.  When I did, Yoga with Adriene began.

Adriene Mishler

30-days Of Yoga impact

Adriene has admitted the first 30 days of yoga in 2015 was when things really started to expand. Many people that are new to yoga struggle with showing up and accountability.

The 30-day of yoga offers newcomers community in the safe environment of their home, especially when they feel too self-conscious to be in a public class.

The 30-day journey offers students a go-at-your-own-pace system that can help them cultivate a daily yoga practice. It is a high-quality program curated by Adriene Mishler herself with tremendous intention and love.

In response to the announcement of her new 30-days of Yoga for the year 2023, Center, students had this to say:

Adriene’s yoga has completely changed my life. Two years ago I started a 30 day challenge and have done it every day since. I am fitter, calmer, stronger, more centred and I no longer have any backache !! Thank you thank you thank you.

[Comment on the video “CENTER – A 30 Day Yoga Journey”]

“Your 30 Day journey is such a life affirming way to start the year. Thank you Adriene for all your hard work and love in helping us travel with you.

[Comment on the video “CENTER – A 30 Day Yoga Journey”]

Manduka With Adriene

In September 2022 in honor of the 10th Anniversary of Yoga With Adriene, she launched her yoga collection in collaboration with Manduka. Her line features a wool bolster, meditation cushion, and yoga blocks in addition to her signature YWA mat.

Find What Feels Good App

Wanting a bit more structure and control than Youtube could offer, she created the Find What Feels Good app which is her own membership-based virtual yoga studio.

It features exclusive members-only content curated by Adriene and other talented teachers.

Adriene Mishler Yoga Teaching Rituals 

Here on some tips from Adriene when preparing to teach a class.

  • Wash your feet before class
  • Gather your thoughts (journal)
  • Prepare the mat by polishing it with your favorite essential oil.
  • Hydrate/ Brew a cup of tea.

Her Advice to Yoga Teachers

  • Allow people to see you for who you really are.
  • It’s not about doing yoga so much as it is about sharing it. 
  • Let it be raw. Each time, just make one thing better.
  • Don’t worry about what you think it’s going to be. Just let us look at you. Let us see and hear you. Don’t worry about it being messy. It’s fine to see the humanity behind the teacher.

Her favorite mantra to recite while teaching: I am leading Yoga

In conclusion

Yoga With Adriene students can attest to the feeling of joy and relief one feels when the upbeat jingle to Adriene’s yoga class starts to play. It’s like that feeling you used to get when you were a kid and your favorite show was about to start. 

It’s the same one that has played for a decade at the beginning of her yoga videos. Where you can see Adriene with bangs, sitting in an easy seat with prayer hands as the wind blows her hair and she calmly sits in the center with her eyes closed.

Something about her sitting in the middle of that circle as the camera catches different angles of her, wind in her hair. She has an aura of peace and timelessness.

To read up on more famous and influential yogis, feel free to visit our yogi profiles page to learn more about important figures who helped shaped the way we practice yoga today.

Photo of author
Anna is a lifestyle writer and yoga teacher currently living in sunny San Diego, California. Her mission is to make the tools of yoga accessible to those in underrepresented communities.

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