I have always had a love-hate relationship with Yoga. I love it because regular practice has helped me increase strength, flexibility and focus over time. I hate it because it is intimidating. It does not do much to boost your ego when other people in your class are able to turn upside down & simultaneously do a push-up, while you barely manage to touch your toes.
And while I was able to squeeze in one or two Yoga sessions a week earlier, the pandemic-induced lockdown motivated me to turn back to one of my favourite YouTube channels – ‘Yoga with Adriene’ to complete her 30-day at Home program. I noticed that not only me but hundreds of people were going back to her past YouTube videos to practice Yoga during this stressful time.
There is something about Adriene. This unassuming woman from Texas has become a YouTube star for Yoga with more 7.6 million subscribers from across the world. Some of her most popular videos have more than 10 million views each. But what works the best is her 30-days series that she diligently releases on January 1 each year. It helps a lot of beginners like me make to make Yoga a part of everyday life.
Adriene was popular even before the pandemic, with 5 million subscribers around the same time last year. But a scroll through the comments sections of some of her latest videos will indicate how hundreds of subscribers are now following her Yoga routine. With everything going on in the world, people have found her videos incredibly regenerating, both for the mind and the body. Her channel has gotten over 1.4 million views over the last hundred days itself.
In fact, I have found her knowledge, instructions and overall flow to be better than some of many real-life classes that I have attended and there are multiple reasons why she stands out.
One thing I like the most is her respect for this discipline that comes from ancient India. While she brings in a lot of wit, humor & enthusiasm in her videos she also remembers to tell us the Sanskrit name of the Asanas. All her videos end with the Hindi greeting of Namaste (It’s funny that despite having Hindi as my mother tongue, I use less of the greeting in real life and hear more of it through Adriene’s videos). Fun and respect coexist in Adriene’s world of yoga.
She also has a very direct conversation with her audience. It literally feels like someone is sitting across the hall on their yoga mat and telling – ‘You got this’, ‘If you fall, we’ll catch you’, ‘I’ve got your back’. She is honest, does not sugar-coat, and encourages you to put your best forward, one day at a time.
Adriene also has her catchphrases like ‘Find what feels good’ and ‘What are you grateful for?’ – simple yet powerful, giving people moments of peace and self-care, and helping them remain calm amongst the anxiety that the current situation has created. Practicing with her gives hope for better times to come.
As people around the world continue to distance, self-isolate or quarantine it is likely that they will look for Yoga & Meditation options online. And ‘Yoga with Adriene’ channel is a perfect path, for which all you need is a tiny corner to spread your mat at home.
The irony of the situation is that while the world grapples with ‘Zoom Fatigue’ – a term coined to define mental exhaustion associated with online video conferencing and digital screens, YouTube videos still retain their pull factor. Even if our ecosystem is over-saturated with online video content, a lot of YouTube content creators (like Adriene) have such a strong appeal and connect with their audience that users go back to their videos again & again.
As more of us look at conducting virtual sessions with colleagues, clients & students, there is a lot that we can learn from Youtubers who have built their own niche through their passion, style and originality of content.
Here a few things that you can learn from how Adriene in case you plan to facilitate online sessions and have a more meaningful virtual dialogue:
1. Be Authentic- Be consistent in your messaging, clear for what you stand for, and repeat the message that you sent. Authenticity reflects in the body language & the intent that you set.
2. Guide – Know what you are talking about. Guide your audience in the right direction and provide that with insights that will help.
3. Ask – Do not hesitate to ask how your audience is doing during this time, and yes, this can be done effectively virtually. Create a safe space where everyone’s feelings are different and valid.
4. Encourage – Your encouragement will go a long way for those who are struggling to keep going. Take a step further and give your audience a sense of belonging and make them feel valued.
5. Express Gratitude – Acknowledge those who participated. Recognize that people have shown up for you, despite their own set of concerns.
A lot of these tips were relevant even before these uncertain times, but they were ‘good-to-have’ behaviours. In the world of digital interactions, these steps should not only be a priority but a minimum requirement for any professional or leader to enhance and enable people in the new reality.