Yoga made me realise that I have no control over anything, and I don’t need anything or any person or any status or amount of money to be totally at peace with myself.
How many times have we unrolled a yoga mat, desperate for a tiny piece of peace?
Adell Bridges is one of the most famous yoga teachers in the world and, because of her “yoga-celebrity” status, it might be easy to think her life is one big glamorous, globetrotting asana experience.
But what we learned in this amazing interview is that Adell is very much grounded in gratitude, nature, and the simple goal of being happy and helping others to be happy, too. In fact, we once heard Adell describe herself as being in the business of “spreading happiness”, rather than “teaching yoga.”
How amazing is that?!
And even more amazing – you’ll get to practice with Adell at the VibeWell HONORS Yoga Festival on May 11, 2019. You can learn more about the class she’ll be offering in this interview too!
How long have you been practicing yoga and why did you start practicing yoga?
I’ve been consciously practising yoga for about 4 years. But I sometimes answer that question by saying, “all my life” because I believe many of us are practising yoga without realising it. Because yoga isn’t movement. Yoga is a lifestyle. And I think that many of us are yogis all our lives, even if we don’t label it, as long as we are living in a way that aligns with yoga principles. ie living with compassion, awareness, love, and with a selfless desire to better the lives of others.
I began practising yoga asana however, like many people, as a form of exercise and as a way to heal old injuries. But this powerful practice had its effect on me and before I knew it, I was just as interested in the non-asana aspects of yoga.
What impact has yoga had on your life? Who were you before you started practicing and how have you changed, evolved and transformed?
Yoga has quite literally changed my life in every way. I sometimes speak of my life before yoga as “my previous life” because I look back and see a totally different person. I wanted to control everything. I didn’t really know myself. I took no notice of why I reacted to triggers in certain ways, I simply reacted mindlessly. This made me fearful, and that fear made me greedy, selfish, and anxious.
I mean, I wasn’t a horrible person, but I just constantly lived with an assumption that I had to grasp onto everything in my life or I would lose it all, and that losing the stuff in my life would be a total disaster. Yoga made me realise that I have no control over anything, and I don’t need anything or any person or any status or amount of money to be totally at peace with myself.
Why did you decide to start teaching yoga?
Ohhh, I don’t think I made that decision. I was so lost at that time, but I had my yoga practice. I think my friends saw that. Even if I didn’t see it myself. And so my friends asked me for yoga lessons. My friends told me I should teach. My friends convinced me to go get my 200hr certificate. My friends were the ones who got me teaching at yoga studios. All the while I just let myself be dragged along with it all, because there was something in me that liked what was happening, even though I didn’t understand it.
Now I know it was simply the desire to share this practice which has made such a meaningful impact on my life.
What style of yoga do you practice and what makes that style most effective?
I practice vinyasa. I love a good sun salutation! And then to add onto that classic sequence in whatever way I see fit. I believe that it’s good for our bodies and our minds to move with creativity, in a variety of ways. So I love the freedom that comes with vinyasa to take it to anywhere you need to, depending on what your intention or goal is for that particular practice or that particular class.
Describe the practice you are offering at VibeWell Honors:
I’ll be sharing what I practice myself; a mixture of creatively linked postures and transitions that build to create a deeper awareness of the breath, body, and mind. And it’ll be fun, because I believe yoga should be fun!
What has been your biggest struggle and your biggest milestone in the practice?
Meditation. Why is it so hard?!
What will “yoga” look like in 10 years?
I do believe the yoga world is changing rapidly, as it grows in popularity. I think we are already seeing a shift in how asana is taught, away from simply getting into postures but thinking about their functional purpose.
And while there is a lot of complaint out there about Western yoga being too physical-focused, I believe that the reason yoga has become so popular is because of the non-physical magic that happens through the practice of asana, and so that is what will keep it going. Those who can teach that will keep inspiring people to dig deeper, face their shadows, and live true loving kindness off the mat.
What is the single most defining issue facing the global yoga community today?
Judgement. I see so much judgement. Accusations like “that’s not yoga” and yoga teachers criticising other yoga teachers. All these things which create rifts and divides — they are not yoga. Because yoga is union. Yoga is connection. But yogis are humans, yoga teachers are humans, and so we’re all just doing our best, trying to figure it out, and sometimes we make mistakes and judge our fellow yogis. The more we can see past our differences and remain supportive of each other’s journeys, the better off the global yoga community will be.
What is your dharma, your life mission?
I feel right now that all I hope to achieve is to help people to understand themselves as individuals better. I want to help give people the tools, the motivation, and the inspiration to explore and discover where their own individual balance lies for all aspects of a healthy and happy life. I believe that just as we all need different foods to fulfil our individual nutritional requirements, we also all need slightly different ways of moving, sleeping, creating, working, playing, adventuring, connecting, learning, and earning. To learn all these things about ourselves takes time and effort, but it’s a fun and beautiful journey!
What’s your favorite thing to learn about outside of the yoga world?
Nutrition! I’m also a health coach, because I get really really geeky about food and nutrition and diet.
What does your “off the mat” practice look like?
It’s basically being present as much as possible, practising mindfulness in all things.
Tell us about a student who inspires you:
I’ve had a few older private clients who, in their 50s or 60s, are still childlike at heart and interested in learning handstands! I love that! So many people get to an age that they’ve decided is “too old” to learn new things and they give up and let their inner child die. I never want to be like that. My older private clients are my biggest inspiration to stay thirsty always for new knowledge, adventures, and skills.
Tell us something that your yoga students would never guess about you:
I always meditate before every class, to help get me into a mindset ready to share as a humble servant. I’ve noticed that the ego often gets in the way and says, “everybody is watching you Adell. You have to make them all love you. You better be perfect and not mess up your sequence.” But when I close my eyes and take a few moments to remember I’m not trying to perform, or be perfect, but rather to simply share this practice and what it means to me, I remember my intention for teaching.
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