Tanzina Vega: I'm Tanzina Vega and you're listening to The Takeaway. With all the stress happening for so many of us right now, maybe we need a little breathing and stretching. Our next guest spends a lot of time thinking about the human body and how to find relief from the physical and emotional stress of this time. Adriene Mishler, is a well-known yoga teacher and her YouTube channel, Yoga with Adriene has more than 9 million subscribers. She joins us on the show now, Adriene, thanks so much for being here.
Adriene Mishler: Oh, it's a pleasure. Thank you for having me.
Tanzina Vega: Adriene, you've been in the business of teaching yoga for a decade now. What differences are you noticing this year, in terms of how people are relating to their physical bodies? I know that your YouTube channel has already gotten a 30% increase in subscribers just in this year alone.
Adriene Mishler: It's true. We had a busy year, a very eventful year on the side of things in online yoga. It's been really interesting to witness the difference pre-pandemic and now, how people are showing up more and more of course, because they have to. I was thinking just this morning that the reason why people are showing up is starting to shift.
I've noticed where people were more likely to log on for something that was maybe designed to help transform their physique, now I'm seeing a lot more people in our international community log on. Or, make requests for practices that don't just tend to the physical body but that are also going to address, how they're feeling mentally and emotionally.
Tanzina Vega: Adriene, are you also noticing people who are logging on who are just in pain, and who are turning to yoga potentially as a way to relieve some of that?
Adriene Mishler: Absolutely. I hate to sound so harrowing right out of the gate, but I am. I have noticed a big increase in requests for yoga for loneliness, yoga for anxiety, yoga for heartbreak, definitely.
Tanzina Vega: The physical pain as well of like, backaches and other issues.
Adriene Mishler: Oh, and the physical pain as well. That was something I saw before a lot, yoga for lower back pain, yoga for neck tension, shoulder pain, pain in the feet, the legs. What I'm saying that I'm seeing now, the biggest shift is in addition unfortunately to the physical pain. We're seeing a lot of people speak to emotional and mental struggle. I've been really trying to see if we could use the tools of yoga to address both, because people don't have hours upon hours to spend on the yoga mat, so finding efficient ways to address the back pain and the heartache, all at once.
Tanzina Vega: Have people become more alienated from their bodies during the pandemic? We're not really doing a lot with them these days, particularly if people are living alone and quarantining at home.
Adriene Mishler: Absolutely. As Amanda was saying, there's so many opportunities for us to not even realize that we've crumbled up our spines, or we've been tightening in our low backs, or our hips. These things happen slowly over time, and we may not realize till we're in pain. Of course, the body's telling us that something needs to change. I feel really also very hopeful that this time is going to bring us closer to our bodies, and to our own inner awareness because we don't have other people telling us as often like, “Hey, are you okay? Your shoulders are all the way up to your ears.”
Or, “Yes, your breathing seems a little labored” or “You look a little pale.” I think that on a positive day, I'm really thinking that this could be a great opportunity for us to become more in touch with the systems of our bodies so that we are in tune, and we can pay attention a little more so that we can feel healthier and sustain that.
Tanzina Vega: You often speak about being a proponent of the fact that a little goes a long way. What are some little things, or small things that people can do to find relief right now?
Adriene Mishler: Yes, absolutely. I realize it doesn't sound super groundbreaking. As a Yogi, it can sound rather cliché but I still stand by “a little goes a long way”. For one, just slowing down the breath, becoming more aware of your breath. Again, this is not groundbreaking, we all know there's a lot of wonderful research science that backs up how beneficial conscious breathing, or breath technique can be for boosting function of the body. Slowing down your breath, just having an awareness of your breath.
When we become really panicked or stressed and we have a very uncertain relationship right to the future, things can feel stressful, anxious, slowing down the breath can help. Also, small things like a forward fold with bent knees daily for the low back, some neck and shoulder rolls, just very small things. Usually, we can gain benefit from the small thing itself but usually I find one thing leads to another.
If something feels a little good or you start to notice, “Oh, wow, I really needed that,” then that can bleed into the next moment and the next moment. Ultimately allowing you to be more present each day, and your experience in your body and of course in your mind as well.
Tanzina Vega: We've talked a lot about hitting the pandemic wall one year into this pandemic right now. People just feeling demoralized, unmotivated, it's winter here and it's a really tough time. Some people are going to find it difficult to really do much of anything, is there any advice for people who are just really not motivated right now?
Adriene Mishler: Yes, it's so true. I think that for those listening if this speaks to you, I would just like to say you're not alone. I'm in this business, I have created a really direct line to the tools of yoga to assist me and even I am feeling that lack of motivation. Just the difficulty to show up for myself, it's becoming harder and harder in a lot of ways. One just acknowledging, talking to friends and even to strangers, listening to people connecting over the airwaves is a great example of how we can just remind each other that we're not alone in this.
If you're feeling that way, you're certainly not the only one. Just acknowledging that, I think can be motivating to go, “Okay, well maybe I can begin again today.” Then for me, because I really do believe in the tools of yoga and mindfulness, I would say the hardest part is showing up again. It sounds so cliché but it's so true. Just carving out five minutes, five easy minutes, not that they'll be easy but five minutes is easier to take on then maybe 50.
Just for some slow movement, maybe even just sitting quietly, noticing your breath and just connecting consciously to your physical experience of your body. Then, using that awareness to train your brain to be more stable, calm, genuine and present with what is, because each day we know is very different during this current time.
Tanzina Vega: Adriene Mishler is the founder of the YouTube channel, Yoga with Adriene. Adriene, it's been a pleasure. Thanks so much.
Adriene Mishler: Thank you for having me. Take care.
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