Make It

From self-made teacher to YouTube superstar: How 'Yoga With Adriene' inspired millions

Adriene Mishler, host of "Yoga with Adriene" with her sidekick, Benji.
Courtesy of Find What Feels Good
Adriene Mishler, host of "Yoga with Adriene" with her sidekick, Benji.

In this ever-connected world, finding time to switch off and focus solely on personal well-being can be a rare moment for many.

Enter "Yoga With Adriene": A platform inviting people of all shapes and sizes to do yoga from their own home. With hundreds of free exercise videos available, it's no wonder that the inclusive brand has over 4 million subscribers on YouTube alone.

For Adriene Mishler, the host behind "Yoga With Adriene" (YWA), it's taken time to build the brand up — but with a global following, the hard work appears to have paid off.

Sitting down with CNBC Make It in London, the yoga superstar breaks down what obstacles she's had to overcome before becoming an online sensation.

Third time lucky

Based in the city of Austin, Texas, it was around the age of 17 when yoga began to impact Mishler's career trajectory.

Around the millennium, it wasn't as easy to find a place in the city that offered yoga training for prospective teachers. But after walking into a studio and taking a class, Mishler had a realization that she wanted everyone she knew "to have this experience."

After completing her training, Mishler launched two separate yoga businesses – 'Love Kids Yoga' and 'Austin Darling Yoga'.

While Mishler put a lot of passion and time into both projects, it was the third attempt — with producer and business partner Chris Sharpe — that stuck. With a background in film and commercial production, Sharpe had already helped create a successful channel called "Hilah Cooking" and wanted to apply what he'd learned in the wellness arena.

Adriene Mishler, host of "Yoga with Adriene"
Courtesy of Find What Feels Good
Adriene Mishler, host of "Yoga with Adriene"

"I was already teaching at the time, truly, six days a week — it's crazy," Mishler, yoga teacher, actor and co-founder of video subscription service Find What Feels Good (FWFG), told CNBC.

"I would drive all over town with my huge boombox, burn CDs, just to piece together a living. I was constantly using Facebook already to invite people to classes — so anyone who knew me, knew that I was hustling already as a yoga teacher."

"So, Chris knew this and invited me to start the channel. It sounded really scary for me at the time. I had really no confidence," she said, adding that she initially saw it as a risk.

Despite any concerns she had, Mishler loved collaborating with Sharpe and was "pretty desperate" to do anything between her dream jobs of acting and teaching — and this opportunity offered a chance to incorporate both.

'Labor of love'

From day one, Mishler has had "full reign" and responsibility over the content published on YouTube and the Find What Feels Good platforms.

When YWA debuted, Mishler began with basic poses, accrediting her slight nervousness as a reason for starting with the practice's foundations. With her professional theater background, Mishler took the job very seriously, focusing on getting comfortable with the online format — and with time, this confidence grew.

Starting off, the duo were "super poor" but the YWA host saw their commitment to the channel as a "labor of love"; as both of them worked hard to deliver fresh content and cheered when a video received 100 views.

"Chris and I shook on it early on that we always wanted to be trailblazers, or doing what other people were doing, but doing yoga for the people who are not already doing it — rather than just try to be the biggest yoga channel," she said.

Fast forward and beyond the high-ranking YouTube videos, the FWFG team has expanded the brand further, from online merchandise, and all content beyond YouTube being available via paid monthly subscriptions, to tour dates frequently selling out.

4 million and counting

Mishler's individual influence hasn't gone unrecognized either. When Adidas chose to completely "reset" its female sportswear division in 2015, Mishler was one athlete that caught the designer's attention, with the instructor now being part of the Adidas Women Global Creator Network.

Yet, even as the brand expands, YWA remains true to its mission: serving the community.

"It's my personal goal to empower people to do yoga that serves the present moment. So we've really grown with the community," Mishler said, adding that videos reflect "what the community needs now more than ever."

As 2019 approaches, Mishler is already planning on what content to publish next, from individual videos to month-long series of themed tutorials.

When she's not doing yoga, the instructor is learning Spanish so that she can eventually teach yoga overseas. Mishler's love of acting also remains on her agenda, explaining how she hopes to one day get back on stage.

So, whatever is in store for Mishler — whether that's travelling overseas, working on a book, or doing a tour specifically for schoolchildren — it wouldn't be surprising if the YWA community was cheering her on, every step of the way.