I Tried the “Yoga With Adriene” 30-Day Challenge…and Failed
It’s not Adriene. It’s me. As a 2021 wellness experiment, I tried the 30-Day Yoga Journey from YouTuber and yoga teacher Adriene Mishler. My editor insisted I needed to finish the whole thing to write about it from a more informed position. And yet, I failed. Spectacularly.
Type “yoga” into YouTube — the go-to place for free workout classes — and Yoga With Adriene is the first search result. The channel has around 9.5 million subscribers and features Adriene in generally short classes — 30 minutes or less — that are both approachable for total beginners but can also be incorporated into more advanced yoga practices.
This is the seventh year that Adriene has designed and produced a 30-day challenge course in which, for a month, she drops a class a day and challenges viewers to take the journey and grow as yogis with her.
30 Days of Conscious Breath for an Impatient Person
“I know this type of practice takes patience,” Adriene says on day four of her challenge. And it certainly does. Adriene chose “Breath” as the theme for her 2021 yoga challenge, and every video encourages the viewer to do just that. It sounds simpler than it is. In one session she introduces us to the concept of ujjayi, a calming type of breath that you can take as just another chance to finally get into meditation.
The thing is, I’m a bad yogi. I’ve detached yoga from most of its spiritual elements. Ever since I stopped going to my regular yoga studio due to COVID-19 I’ve been practicing at home and skipping Shavasana — you know, the way a class typically ends with the yogi in a corpse-like position to find final relaxation — altogether.
I’ve been practicing yoga on and off since 2012, but for the last four years, I’ve been regularly getting on my yoga mat at least once a week. Yoga is my go-to safe workout. I like it because you can challenge yourself and opt for an almost-cardio flow abundant in Chaturangas — a.k.a. yogi push-ups — or take things easy and stretch in downward dog. Yoga is also sort of medicinal to me. It alleviates the neck and back pain I feel sometimes from working all day in front of a computer. It’s also helped strengthen my wrists, arms and core. It’s the only flexibility exercise I do. But, for the most part, I’m in yoga for the planks — which I actually really hate — not for the mindfulness.
An Approachable Practice at Home
Adriene’s 2021 yoga challenge has been designed as a slow burn, and it’s abundant in its dedication to breathing and stretching. But my lack of patience led me to cheat. YouTube makes it easy with the preview feature, and I fast-forwarded to the segments where I thought classes started. Did I skip the many minutes where Adriene explains how to properly master Breath of Fire? I’m afraid I did. Bad yogi.
In class five or six of the challenge, the influencer talks about all the time you need to put into the type of work she’s asking you to do. I’m talking about holding Warrior Two or Bridge for minutes on end just breathing. It can be painful. It can also be boring. Bad yogi.
Adrienne’s classes can be very challenging. She’s the one who says it. But by the time it gets to the challenging bit, I’m not there. I already gave up.
Part of my issue with Adriene’s yoga challenge is I’m a woman on a mission. My mission for the last 78 days and counting has been to close all three rings from my Apple Watch every single day. I have a personal goal of 600 active calories a day that I only complete with around two hours a day of exercise. On days when I’m pressed for time, I run (as my fastest way of burning calories, it’s also the most exhausting). On other days I’ll take an online Pilates class, do some walking (I’m also a woman on a mission to walk at least 10,000 steps a day) and try some yoga.
I’ve been practicing intermittently the Yoga With Tim 30-day challenge since early summer last year and love his teaching style. Maybe it’s because there’s less breathing and he cuts to the chase. In some of his classes, someone else is practicing while Tim corrects the yogi’s posture and makes jokes. So there tends to be constant chatter while you’re enduring a pose.
My whole closing-of-the-rings gets out of whack if I spend half an hour on a yoga class and only get around 30 active calories out of it, which is what happens with some of Adriene’s classes — and the real reason why I ended up giving up on her challenge.
Would I still recommend Adriene’s yoga challenge? Absolutely. I think she has a great way of making her classes a good fit for most people. She gives variations of a posture for all kinds of levels (plank on your knees, regular plank, plank with one leg lifted or plank with one leg lifted and the opposite arm also lifted). The lessons are designed for at-home practice. The slow rhythm could be good for anyone trying to stretch a bit and unwind after a busy day at the home office. Plus, her blue heeler dog Benji is always there making things furrily cute.
It’s just that this yogi is too fretful to breathe and be mindful. I still think I should give Adriene’s challenge a try sometime again in the future — and see if it teaches me some patience.