We were delighted to interview Adell Bridges, an adventurous yogi, traveling teacher, health nerd, and overall curious mind. She shares her definitions of success, mindfulness, and most exciting of all, she tells us about her new project with Celest Pereira, an online community to support hypermobile yogis through their journeys to better health.
What was your life goal when you were 10?
When I was 10, all I wanted was to go to the Olympics. I was a competitive gymnast, and I think all gymnasts at that age dream of going to the Olympics!
What are some of the choices you’ve made that made you who you are?
Moving to the UK when I was 19 is a big one. Getting out of small-town America, becoming a foreigner, and travelling around Europe at that age taught me so much. I also look back to a seemingly insignificant decision I made in May 2016 to attend a workshop taught by Dylan Werner. I met him there along with so many other people who have greatly influenced me and helped me along this journey. I have Dylan to thank for so much that I have now. Besides being my friend, he has been my mentor. He took me as an assistant on his Asia tour in 2017, where I learned a great deal from him about being a yoga teacher and travelling the world.
What does success mean to you?
Success is all about being free from constraints and feeling at peace with oneself, for me.
How much of yourself do your share with your IG followers? Are there any areas of your life that you consider private and “off limits”?
For sure, many areas of my life stay off of Instagram. I don’t think of those things as “off limits” as it’s not that I’m hiding anything or trying to paint a picture on IG that’s not a true reflection of my daily life, rather that I just don’t feel they would be consistent to my overall message of yoga and wellness.
Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
I really want to go sky diving. One day I will. I just haven’t yet had the right alignment of opportunity + time to make it happen.
What’s your definition of mindfulness? What is the first step to becoming mindful in your day-to-day life?
Mindfulness to me is simply paying attention to what you’re doing, thinking, or saying with a sense of curiosity. I think of it as becoming a scientist, closely examining –with no judgment, only intrigue– what is happening. I think the first step can be to ask the question “why?” when you do something. For example, getting a cup of coffee, I may ask myself “why am I getting this coffee?” and then I might realise I don’t actually want it, or maybe it’s because I feel tired and feel it will give me a boost. Then if I get the coffee, I can drink it mindfully, with awareness for WHY I bought it.
What’s your advice to recent graduates trying to make it as instructors in a big city? Do you recall any misadventures when you were starting out?
Take every opportunity you can. Nothing will teach you how to be a good instructor more than just experience. And there will be times when you totally screw up and teach an awful class; take it as an opportunity to learn!
What kind of opportunities came to your life because of Instagram?
Literally everything. I can trace almost everything in my life back to a connection I made through Instagram. I think if you live somewhere that has a community of people where you feel you belong, you may not understand the impact a social media app like Instagram can have.
But when I found yoga, I was living in a small city where yoga was just something older people did for their back pain. If it hadn’t been for Instagram, I wouldn’t have discovered that yoga can be so much more than that. Through that app, I connected with like-minded people all over the world and eventually left that small city to go practice with, learn from (and take Instagram photos with!) the people I’d met online.
What is your advice for people who aspire to build a successful business?
Do it because you love it, because you have something to share or give. Do it with a sense of servitude. Not for money. Not for success or fame or to get anything. Give, give, give, and it will come back to you.
What lightens you up?
I love learning new things, and it excites me to share it with others. Anything related to health and wellbeing lights me up. I believe that if we can constantly work to achieve optimal health (whatever that may be on any given day), we can go through this life making the most of each day.
Ancient vs. modern yoga: do you think it’s okay to invent new styles of yoga? Why or why not?
I do think it’s okay to invent new styles of yoga. Because as times change, cultures change, people change, so should yoga. That’s not to say we should break the tether with traditional styles or forget where they came from. There is immense value in studying and understanding the history, and even practising some of the ancient techniques. But some of the traditional alignment cues are not anatomically sound, and some of the ancient practises are frankly pretty unhealthy if you ask me. I mean…amaroli? No thanks. lol
What is there not enough of in yoga classes? Too much of?
Too much focus on flexibility and relaxing into poses, and not enough focus on building strength and mobility. Sometimes I wonder if yoga is going to create a generation of super happy, peaceful people (thumbs up!) who also have knee problems (thumbs down).
Speaking of building strength and mobility, you recently created an IG page with Celest Pereira to share content and tidbits for hypermobile yogis. Can you tell us more about that project?
Yes! It’s my new baby, and it’s growing so quickly. For a long time, I’ve wanted to create something for flexible people in yoga. It came from seeing how my own practice needed to shift if I wanted to be able to carry on with it for years to come. Because as much as I loved what yoga brought me mentally and emotionally, it was actually leaving me in pain physically. I also recognised the same in so many others in my classes and on Instagram. My practice became about building strength, but people still only seemed to see my flexibility, and they still asked me to help them become more flexible.
So I carried this idea of creating something to promote strength over flexibility around with me for probably a year before I finally told my friend Celest, who is a very knowledgeable physiotherapist and yoga teacher, that I wanted to create something for flexible people in yoga. I asked if she would help me, and she said she had the same idea!
So we’ve created an Instagram page (@hypermobile.yogis) where we share tips for strengthening hypermobile joints, information about what hypermobility means, and a community of hypermobile people to share with, encourage each other, and learn together. We’ve already seen such a positive response from the yoga community, both hypermobile and not.
There’s simply so much information we want to share that we also send out longer, more in-depth blogs, as well as videos for strengthening and access to a private Facebook group to our mailing list.
How much do you care about showing your true self through social media? What is the recipe for a post that reflects that opinion?
I think as human beings we have amazing subconscious abilities to understand other human behaviour, even if we’re not aware of it on a conscious level. So I believe it shows when a post isn’t honest and authentic. For me, simply sharing my own journey, rather than trying to dictate to others what they should do, is how I choose to write out my captions. I try not to be preachy, just along the lines of “this is my vantage point today. This is where I am on this journey through life right now.”
How do you react to controversial or critical comments and messages?
It depends on if someone is simply sharing an opinion that contrasts with mine, or if they’re just being a bully or spreading mistruths. If it’s the former, I thank them for sharing and try my best (it’s not always easy) to listen to what they say and stay open to being wrong. If it’s the latter or a message that contains some level of cruelty, then I turn it around and ask them how they came to that conclusion. I like to get people thinking about why they chose the words they wrote.
What are three people or sources you’ve learned from – or followed closely – in the last year?
I’m a big fan of Ben Greenfield’s podcast. I’ve learned so much from him about implementing changes to the modern lifestyle to replicate how our bodies on a biological level are meant to exist in this world.
I’ve also gotten really into the Wim Hof Method and was fortunate enough to go spend a week with the man himself in the Pyrenees this past summer. The cold taught me just how much the thoughts in the mind can have control over how you experience life, and once you grasp that, you can let those thoughts go, so they no longer have control over you.
Finally, a big shoutout to the book “Move Your DNA” by Katy Bowman. Her work opened my eyes to so much about how we move and how it affects our experience in this life.
Read more about Katy Bowman’s philosophy on life and movement in our 19 Yoga & Movement Teachers to Watch in 2019.
Edited by Ely Bakouche