Dedicate: To Commit to a Way of Life

Yoga with Adriene, a YouTube channel with more than 400 free yoga videos led by Adriene Mishler and her blue heeler Benji, is one of the greatest things to happen to yoga. That’s right. You heard me.

Adriene and Benji help democratize yoga through the accessibility of the videos (free) and Adriene’s teaching style (goofy, loving, kind – you will often be called “my friend” and be invited to enjoy your own “private love cave”). She brings a yoga practice to those who can’t afford a studio membership or who don’t yet feel confident enough to practice in a class setting. When you fire up Yoga with Adriene, you’re at home partying on your mat with a girl and her dog. You have the power to practice in your own way on your own time…and in your own pajamas as I am wont to do.  

Yoga with Adriene offered a 30-day program beginning January 1st called “Dedicate.” How is this relevant to you? As Adriene says, “You have 365 days to complete these 30 days.” Here’s the calendar. Here’s the YouTube playlist. Go nuts.

As with most things in my life, I approached Yoga with Adriene’s 30-day Dedicate challenge with concern and resistance. 62 days stood between Day 1 of Dedicate and the Napa Valley (half) Marathon. Just 6 weeks prior, I was set to limp across a finish line with self-diagnosed tendinitis in my knee. I was very worried that a daily yoga practice might lead to another injury to carry for 13.1 miles.

Dedicate starts slow, which makes sense if you consider the mass of people who resolve to start practicing yoga on January 1st. I did not take this into consideration. Adriene did a lot of talking and not much moving. I’m not proud of the number of times I yelled “GET TO THE POINT!” When we finally began moving our bodies, the poses were entry-level. Much of the movement was done while sitting. I was bored. I was resistant. I wasn’t listening.  

Something shifted around Day 7, not because the practice had become more challenging, but because I began to accept Dedicate for what it was…kinda brilliant. Dedicate is designed to introduce the idea of a practice, slowly build confidence, teach you to locate and move from your center, and progress through the most common poses in a mindful manner. After the first week, every session is less than 30 minutes long, a very manageable length of time to slot into anyone’s busy day…if you choose to dedicate yourself.

My time on the mat became sacred. I set an intention for the practice while lighting candles each morning. I practiced by candlelight until the sun slowly rose and sorbet colored clouds dotted the horizon. I craved the daily practice and what it brought to my mind and body. I found a greater sense of peace and openness that allowed me to be more focused and creative with my work. That same peace and openness bled into my relationships. I listened better, found greater forgiveness for imperfections, and gave more kindness to those around me. Oh – and I’m a month from the half marathon and am currently injury-free.

30 days on the mat with Adriene and Benji brought me so many gifts I never expected.

  • Unification of Mind & Body: With daily practice, I finally found true presence in my body. I began to notice which muscles clenched with resistance to some poses as well as the open spaces that brought ease to others.

  • Grounding:  The second video, Foundations, grounded my practice. Adriene taught her viewers to hold poses with active intention. I learned to find my center by noticing my breath and finding that fire in my core. No longer was I going through the motions. My muscles were awake. Ready.

  • Freedom: My default is to force, do, ACCOMPLISH. Learning to find my center and to properly activate my body gave me the freedom to play and explore. A rooted foundation gave me the structure necessary to tap into the energetic alignment of each pose rather than fighting to GET IT RIGHT.

  • Grace: I slowly released the judgments I had previously felt about the poses that I couldn’t do. With this new perspective, I was able to find the best fit for my body and accept that my body’s needs change day to day. I stopped criticizing myself for needing adjustments to accommodate my wide hips, my injured shoulder, and the trauma my body houses. I gifted myself acceptance and grace.

  • Confidence: One of the greatest gifts from Dedicate was the confidence gained through the mind-body connection and the repetition of sequences. Practicing (mostly) alone in my living room meant there was no one to compare myself to. As we know, comparison is in direct opposition to confidence. With no other students to use as a measuring stick, I learned to trust my intuition and build my confidence internally rather than seeking external validation.

Adriene appears to be sponsored by Adidas, so forgive me when I say: Just do it, y’all.