Cooking with Adriene

Adriene Mishler has been in my living room at least a hundred times — guiding me through stretches and reminding me to breathe — but we’ve never met. Still, when I walk into her house and Mishler greets me with a smile and a warm hug while her pup, Benji, offers an approving sniff and a nuzzle, there’s a genuine feeling of friendship and familiarity. I drop down to scratch behind the blue heeler's black-and-silver ears and admit, “When I told my husband I was coming here, his first question was ‘Do you get to meet Benji?’” Mishler laughs. “He’s the real star, for sure,” she says with characteristic humility.

Mishler is that Adriene, of “Yoga with Adriene” (YWA), a YouTube channel and online community boasting millions of followers globally, created with the mission of providing free, accessible yoga for all. She has created hundreds of videos, largely shot in her own East Austin home, with themes like “Yoga for Neck and Shoulder Relief,” “Yoga for Anxiety and Stress” and “Yoga to Start Your Day.” The entire library is free, but there’s a subscription model too, called “Find What Feels Good,” that helps fuel the free videos and offers members bonus content.

Mishler's adorable kitchen is equally familiar to me, since I’ve watched her video, “How to Make Yogi Tea,” filmed here. I’ve also admired the naturally lit breakfast nook, honeycomb-tiled counters and seafoam-green backsplash via her Instagram. Today, the counter is piled with a rainbow of chopped vegetables and a package of rice paper rounds for making fresh summer rolls. “It’s a small kitchen, and every Texan knows that at a certain time [of year] you just stop using the oven,” says Mishler.

In addition to being a force for accessible yoga on the internet, Mishler works as an actress and tours internationally with her yoga teaching (she led asana to a sold-out crowd at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado this summer). "I decided on the summer roll because I’ve been traveling, and doing all this prep is all I’ve wanted to do.” When a colleague recently asked her whether it feels good to sleep in her own bed after traveling, she says she replied, “It feels good to cook in my own kitchen!”

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“I like to put on music and do slow, mindful prep,” Mishler says. Over a groovy, chill tango by Chicha Libre, she explains, “I’m listening to all my Spanish-language tunes — I just got back from Mexico City.” She shares that, “In spite of being a native Texan and half Mexican … I realized I definitely knew more sign language and Sanskrit than Spanish.” Last year, she took on the challenge of learning the language as an adult with the goal of teaching bilingual classes and creating free, Spanish-language yoga videos to stretch the "yoga for all” mission even further. After pausing to blend the dipping sauce, she says, “I thought about making a Mexican dish; my grandmother was a cook.” She shows me a lovely card with one of her Grandma Emma's recipes printed over a rose that Mishler’s mom hand painted. We joke that Mishler just needs to spill a little of her sauce on the recipe card to complete the familial culinary collaboration.

As she tells me about her days as a Snapchat cooking star, Mishler artfully and methodically prepares the summer rolls. All the while, she maintains an easy laugh and makes lots of eye contact while her hands dance over the ingredients. Gesturing to the spectrum of vegetables and herbs, Mishler excitedly reports, “I recently subscribed to the Johnson’s Backyard Garden [CSA] box, and it is amazing … It’s pretty affordable, and you know you’re supporting the people who are waking up every day and doing back-breaking work to put food on our counters.” (As an offering of even more support to those who work the earth, one can find “Yoga for Gardeners” in the YWA video collection.) Mishler also mentions she’s working toward a zero-waste kitchen and her food choices are guided by both finding what feels good for her body and consciously caring for the environment.

As I gather my bag, she invites me to come to her next public practice (along with a few hundred other Austinites) and proposes we do this again, but make something for Benji next time. Until then, we can all stay well with Mishler via her vegetarian recipes, tips for living our best plastic-free lives and YWA video flows. And while you’re taking care of yourself, Mishler advises sharing that love: "When you’re cooking for someone, there’s the nutrients in the food, but there’s also the love that you put into it … it’s a gift. I’m hoping we can continue to find that.”

By K. Angel Horne • Photography by Dustin Meyer