I say this a lot, but I could not be more excited to introduce September’s Writer of the Week to you, Rachel Brathen!
Internationally renowned yoga teacher, social media sensation, and one of the realest, most inspiring young people out there, Rachel truly embodies WOTW in all her yogi glory.
If you’ve been on pinterest, let alone the internet, and seen pictures of a blonde woman in yoga poses and crazy pants, it’s a safe bet that’s Rachel. Her pictures have been shared around the web tenfold and not just because they are stunning and impressive, but because Rachel’s pictures emit potent joy and air of inspiration, with messages of self-love, belief, and goodness.
If you don’t know of her, I am so pleased to be able to invite you to do so here on (Sense)story in her interview and posts later this week!
“Rachel is a yogi on a world tour. Born and raised in Sweden, she currently resides in the beautiful island of Aruba where she is busy teaching yoga at a resort in the mornings, coordinating retreats at noon, taking her three somewhat crazy dogs to the beach to keep up with the surf in the afternoon and trying to survive as a vegan (where no vegetables grow!) in the evenings. She firmly believes that life is not black or white – it’s black and white and blue and yellow with rays of pink and sparkle in between. You can teach yoga and still be a party animal. Meditate and ignore your spending problems. Be vegan and eat too much chocolate. Have a Swedish passport and live in the Caribbean. You can do anything, as long as it’s you!”
1) You are a “yoga internet and social media phenomenon” but you’re known and loved for your authenticity. What has been the most important way you stay grounded and true to yourself?
That’s a really good question. It’s not easy starting grounded when I’m constantly traveling, and also the social media thing can get a little crazy… I do my best to just be myself, in every situation. I listen to my intuition and if something doesn’t feel 100% right, i step back or make sure my voice is heard. I try to be honest with who I am, i have bad days, sad days, crap days just like everybody else… It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, and I try to show all sides of my life. I find, from staying true to who you are all sorts of amazing things are presented in your life!
2) How did you originally branch out into yoga through social media? What made you think, “hmm this could be a good idea?”
I started with a Facebook page, a few years ago. I didn’t have a big plan, all I wanted to do was inspire people and spread some yoga awareness. I started very differently – I was posting pictures of asanas with descriptions, benefits, contradictions… very serious. It’s not who I am! Now my social media sphere is fun and playful and a little goofy, and there is inspiration through that, too. My Facebook page grew, I got Twitter, then started an Instagram account just for fun – and here we are!
3) In what direction do you think yoga and social media are going in together? Do you think the movement has the right motivation behind it?
There are definitely two sides to it. I think it’s great because yoga is reaching so many people now, from all over, with all kinds of backgrounds. Yoga is not just for girls anymore, you don’t need to be flexible to start, you don’t have to practice every day… A lot of stereotypes about yoga are being shattered with this easy access. I get so many emails daily from people thanking me – from inspiration from my pictures they took their first class, fell in love, healed their back, lost weight.. List is endless. It’s beautiful. But at the same time – it’s just social media. The idea of people holding challenges and random new yogis with no knowledge of asana or how to prepare the body start to jump into advanced poses just for the sake of pictures – that’s crazy. I don’t condone it at all. That is not yoga. Yoga is for you, it’s your practice, it’s not a pose. I’d never tell people “do this pose today” – I’d rather tell people “go find a yoga studio close to where you live and take a beginners class!”. People have a hard time seeing the difference between cool acrobatic shots on Instagram, and what it actually means in time and dedication to get to that place.
4) Being as popular as you are, what was the most profound moment for you during all of this?
Wow. So many. I did a two-month tour this summer and met so many incredible people. Some girls drove 20 hours to get to my class in Vancouver, a girl flew from Paris to LA just to take my class, people went through such lengths to attend it was incredible. People with terminal cancer, with eating disorders, depression, you name it, came to my classes just to give me a hug. It’s hard to grasp the difference some people have cerated in their lives simply from the words I put out there. That’s why I’m here. To inspire, to share love, to connect.. Yoga is a plus, but this love and connection between people is the core of it all.
5) Your favorite:
Touch? I love a good neck massage!
Taste? Does chocolate count? I have a big sweet tooth.
Sound? The sound of my puppy yawning in the morning. it’s the cutest thing ever.
Smell? Verbena! I have Marseille Verebena candles in the house… Love it.
Sight? The ocean. Always.
All pictures courtesy of Rachel Brathen Yoga Lifestyle