Surrounded on all sides, and with my rucksack and shoes tucked on to the end of my mat, this is not the zen and calming approach I would normally go for when embarking on a Sunday morning yoga session.
The 200 of us squeezed in to the Oval Space in east London, which must have been scrubbed and sprayed to get rid of all traces of last night’s revelries, are trying something different for the chance to share this practice with Adriene Mishler and with each other. And somehow it works.
THE MORNING AFTER: usually a club venue for hipsters, Oval Space became a yoga studio for the day
Adriene’s message is that yoga is for everyone, for all shapes, sizes and abilities. At the beginning of this session she tells us she wants to do away with ‘levels’ in yoga, and for everyone to do what feels right for them. This is not a radical message from any yoga teacher; and yet her youtube channel, Yoga with Adriene (YWA), which offers free yoga workouts to try in the comfort of the viewer’s own home, has amassed more than four million subscribers.
The practice on the day was designed to take in the uniqueness of the event. No longer are these devotees taking part in their living room, potentially with room to swing a cat. We are nose to tail (or extended right leg) and I bumped the hip of my neighbour with my knee in a stomach twist near the end of the session.
But the proximity, strangely, becomes part of the magic. We move together, but in our own way, breathing in each other’s breath and gaining confidence with each new round of vinyasa.
Sarah, 25, had travelled from Wandsworth for the event. She said: “I think Adriene is so popular because, whilst she takes positivity and looking after yourself seriously, she is still able to make it funny and you don’t feel as if you’ve failed if you can’t get into certain poses.”
She added: “I had followed YWA for several years now, and she’s brought me back to the mat time and again so I couldn’t miss the opportunity to be in a room full of people who felt the same way.”
There is a community spirit to this, which Adriene draws on and expands with her warmth, humour and humility. Her gratitude sounds utterly genuine and is infectious. By the evening, my arms were aching but my heart still felt full.