OM catches up with world-travelling yoga teacher and health coach, Adell Bridges
How did you first get into yoga
I got into yoga semi-accidentally. A friend of mine suggested a yoga app and I remember thinking: “Whatever, I’m never gonna use an app and do yoga!” But I was going through a pretty stressful time in my life, plus I was in a lot of pain and looking for something to help my body, so I tried it one day in my bedroom (no yoga mat, and I might have been wearing jeans and socks!) and I remember at the end of the class, I was surprised at how peaceful I felt. I immediately started another class! At the same time, I discovered Instagram and all the yogis on there. Suddenly, I was transformed as this practice and all the people around the world I was connecting with were filling my life with something
that made me feel amazing. I didn’t understand what was happening at the time, but as I look back I see now that I was finally giving myself a chance to listen to my body and pay attention to the beautiful and magical connection between the breath and the mind.
What inspired you in those early days
It was the big Instagram yogis at first. But then there were so many others that I learned from and who inspired me as I discovered more and more of the online yoga community. Not just the big names, but just other yoga practitioners from all over the world who were sharing things that made me think: “Oh cool, I didn’t know that was yoga!”
What does yoga give you personally
I can honestly say that yoga gives me everything. It teaches me and reminds me who I am, beneath the labels and beyond the fleeting thoughts and emotions. Through yoga – mindfulness, awareness, meditation – I gain a clear perspective of every single situation I find myself in.
Describe your teaching style
I think I’m actually more of a teacher’s teacher. I love to educate people more on the micro level of what’s happening and get people to spend time thinking about one particular thing. I teach mostly workshops because I love to give people a chance to stop and break down a posture, a breath, a thought, whatever it is, to really understand it, before moving on. But when I do teach a yoga class, it’s vinyasa, a very dynamic but anatomy-based and flowing vinyasa class.
Yoga career highs so far
I had a private client who had severe scoliosis and working with her totally transformed me as a yoga teacher. I also taught a bad masterclass in Sydney and learned a very important lesson in being poorly prepared; I’ve never made that mistake again. And there was a time when I was about to quit teaching yoga. I cried for hours through the frustration, and came out of it recognising that I only had to share the practice and what it meant to me. After that I re-wrote all of my workshops and taught entirely differently. It’s the times that were the most challenging that I consider my career highs.
New yoga trends
People are standing up to yoga-related injuries and getting smarter about how they move. They are taking anatomy and biomechanics more seriously and questioning some of the old methods. I’m excited when I see practices such as functional range conditioning (FRC) making their way into yoga classes. It’s why I created, along with Celest Pereira, the hyper-mobile yogis community where we educate people on healthy movement rather than goal-orientated shape-making.
“I can honestly say that yoga gives me everything. It teaches me and reminds me who I am, beneath the labels and beyond the fleeting thoughts and emotions.”
I just really hope that we as a society can move more in the direction of recognising that healthy is beautiful. That if you’re treating your body like the ineffably valuable vessel that it is, giving it clean, nutritious food, a balance of movement and rest, if you’re doing what is best for your body’s resilience against this hectic world and longevity in this bonkers life, then your body is going to be perfectly beautiful.
Diversity in yoga
Yoga is currently not diverse enough, that’s for sure. It is still sadly seen, I think, as something that only skinny white women do. But there are several outstanding yogis and yoga teachers that are showing the world that yoga can be whatever you need it to be, whoever you are. It’s more than a trend, it’s more than a way to get flexible, it’s more than moving around on a rectangular bit of rubber. So, no matter who you are, you can practice yoga. But if you’re reading this, chances are you already know that!
What do you do when you’re not doing yoga
When I’m not doing yoga I’m thinking about food! Not just about what I’m going to eat (although that’s often the case!) but I love nutrition and learning about the gut and finding new recipes and everything else related to eating.
10-SECONDS… WITH ADELL BRIDGES
Favourite go-to book Out Of Your Mind by Alan Watts. I’ve listened to the audiobook probably 10 times.
Life motto “Nothing is permanent”
I am happiest when …I’m swimming in the sea and the waves are kind of rough, but not too rough.
Tips for students new to yoga
Stick with it! There is so much to learn and you’re not going to be able to do everything and achieve everything all at once – and that’s the beauty of it.
What do you say to people who feel they can’t do yoga
I would ask them what’s really stopping them, because believing they’re too inflexible, old or whatever, is either an excuse, or it’s based on an idea that they haven’t taken the time to question… because nobody is ‘too much’ or ‘too little’ of anything to have a meaningful yoga practice.
Advice for nailing down a regular practice
Be curious! There’s always more to learn about yourself, especially because you’re a little bit different every single day. So go into your practice with a sense of intrigue. Ask: “How can I get to know myself a little bit better today?” Then go and explore. And if that sounds like I’m encouraging a slightly narcissistic state of mind, remember that how we interact with the world and others will absolutely be determined by our relationship with ourselves. So it’s not at all about being self-centred or narcissistic.
Tips for incorporating yoga into daily life
Simple: bring awareness to your breath anytime you feel you’re faced with a challenge, and use the breath to keep you calm. It’s like magic, except it’s not because there’s loads of science that supports why the breath is so integral to our overall wellbeing. But it does feel like magic sometimes!
Healthy living tips
Living healthy is simple when you just consider nature as the one true teacher. Compare what you do – whether it’s lathering yourself up with soap under a hot shower, or cramming your feet into high heels, or sitting in a chair for hours – to how our ancestors would have lived before we domesticated ourselves, i.e. when we were still hunter-gatherers or living in caves. Live as close to nature as possible, because nature is balance. And we are a part of that constant rhythm of nature, whether we realise it or not – and so the more things we do that are unnatural, the more we become unbalanced.