Yesterday night, I took a yoga class with 299 other people, all brought together by the power of social media and one sassy Texan.
I've mentioned Yoga with Adriene before, on at least two occasions. She's Google's most searched-for workout and exercise query, and she's got hundreds of YouTube videos available to her 1.7 million (and counting) subscribers. She's fun and encouraging and silly, three things I definitely think should be part of yoga (or at least, whatever "yoga" means for me).
I was lucky enough to snap up a ticket to one of the sold-out-within-minutes classes on her UK tour, and last night I turned up to see a line stretching around the block leading into York Hall in Bethnal Green. We were let in, rolled out our yoga mats, waved at tour manager Jeff (the warm-up act of sorts - this almost felt more like a rock concert than a yoga class at points), and waited to begin.
And then Adriene herself walked out, and the crowd, as they say, went wild. I was so impressed with the reaction. This is the power of social media, yoga-style. That half a world away from Austin, Texas, where Adriene is based, Londoners were going crazy because they liked her and her message. Adriene introduced herself and chatted a bit before class began, cracking jokes and - gasp - letting out a cuss word or two. "I think I'm a good yogi," she said, "because I am me." When she suggested we choose a mantra for the practice, I chose something I'm not always equally good at: "I will honor who I am." So tough some days.
And I'll be honest, I wasn't really feeling my body last night. Though it wasn't a particularly difficult class, things felt 'off' somehow. My never-ending hamstring injury has been flaring up recently, my flexibility is back-tracking, and I'm just generally having some tougher-than-I'd-like moments of frustration. But I was there, and I was surrounded, and I was safe. It was nice.
After the class ended, there was a collective buzz of energy in the enormous room. People smiling, snapping photos, enjoying the moment. I proudly (and a little dorkishly) lined up with many others to get a hug. When it came my turn, I introduced myself, asked her to sign my ticket (nerd alert - own it!), and told her I'd recently certified as a yoga teacher. She told me to check out an upcoming forum for teachers in her online community - score one for inside information. Then we put our arms around each other and turned to the camera.
And we smiled.