Exercise, oversaturated with overpriced gym memberships, “body goals” and silent rivalries, is now forced to transform from public to private, as most of us are locked in our homes. Since we have no one to impress and no tangible framework to trace our goals in, working out, in all its usual painful glory, becomes almost redundant. We all know it’s healthy, but with persona health off the table, the idea of real personal health might seem distant for some at this point in time.
Movement itself, however, is arguably more important than ever. Due to being locked indoors, we naturally walk less than we usually would, and our mental health runs a risk of stagnating alongside our physical immobility. We need something to move us, both literally and figuratively, so that we can push ourselves forward along with the time that passes so inconspicuously.
Adriene Mishler created her You Tube channel, Yoga with Adriene, in 2012, where she began to share at-home yoga workouts. From the very beginning, it clearly differed from most exercise-themed platforms out there: her videos are filmed at home, and they’re frequently “disrupted” by her own downward dog, Benji, often resulting in Adriene conversationally asking the viewers to stop what they’re doing and look at him. She balances intensity with humor, and movement with stillness, while also subtly bursting into song in every other video.
Personally, I consider Yoga with Adriene as poetry for the body; apart from being able to provide a real workout, it can also be more than what it appears to be. Her videos are themed, ranging from Yoga for Insecurity to Yoga for Chefs, and they are all open to interpretation. Adriene herself invites us to take whatever we need from her videos, whether or not we care about the spiritual aspect of the practice.
Like poetry, yoga is compact. We don’t need any equipment or a real yoga mat, and we don’t need much time either. We don’t need to understand what it all means, or whether it means anything – we can go along with the flow of it. We can bask in the intimacy of physical movement, or we can use the poses themselves as metaphors, which is something Adriene often touches upon herself. And, like poetry, it is often painful and confusing; it’s not perfect, but it can be insightful.
Adriene creates a yoga calendar every month, filling each day with a practice from her channel’s archive (plus one brand new video on the first Sunday of the month). Each month is themed, invites introspection, and, not unlike a poetry collection, the videos are all more or less directly linked to the theme, and to each other. If we choose to follow along regularly, it’s impossible not to ponder upon the links between them, as well as our own responses to the theme in question.
As we’re a few days into the new month, a May calendar has been created, and its theme is Meditate. Meditation is becoming increasingly popular among many, especially those whose lifestyles are rapid and overstimulated. Although our external lives now seem to be on hold, we can still benefit from pausing and letting ourselves think. That is the original meaning of meditating, after all, employing the mind in thought or contemplation – and Yoga with Adriene can provide a structured and literal meditation in an emergency.
You can look at it as reading a poem a day, while tending to the body at the same time.