Inspiring Person - Rachel Brathen (aka Yoga Girl)
A couple of days ago I had a bad day. Just like we all do sometimes.
It was grey and rainy out. I had a shift at my retail job that morning. My boss was a half hour late, leaving me outside waiting. Rude customers annoyed me. When I got home one of my cats punched me in the face, cutting my nose with his razor sharp nails (I was just trying to love him!). My partner was stressed out. I couldn't fall asleep for hours that night. It was just not a good day.
When I woke up the next day though, I decided to change my mood. Days earlier I had been planning on going to a Yoga class where I work (this is the job I do like), as it was my day off.
Lying in bed, part of me was saying "you can just go back to sleep, that's easier, you don't have to do anything". I told that negative voice to please shut up. There was no reason not to go to Yoga. It would only be GOOD for me to go. So I dragged my sleepy ass out of bed and went.
Now, I've taken Yoga a few times at work before, and I've dabbled in it the last few years. But yesterday in class, something clicked. I felt like some part of me opened up to let all the bullshit out and let love in.
That class set the tone for the rest of the day. I was happy for no reason other than being happy. And it became so clear that my next blog post had to be about the reason why I considered going to Yoga in the first place.
That reason is Rachel Brathen.
Yoga Star + Huge Inspiration
Many of you may already know her and follow her on Instagram, but for those of you who don't I'm going to do my best to tell you.
Rachel is a woman who lives in Aruba. She is a Yoga teacher, but she is so much more than that. She's a tremendous business woman, building up her Instagram empire, hosting Yoga retreats, traveling the world teaching Yoga, opening up Island Yoga (her own studio in Aruba), starting oneOeight (an online studio), writing a book, opening up Sgt. Pepper's Friends (a non-profit dog rescue foundation) & starting a podcast.
She is also a mother to a happy, adorable baby girl, Lea Luna.
To be quite honest, for a long time I knew she existed (because of my mum actually) but I never paid too much attention. I wasn't big into Instagram. But last year my mother said to me "did you see? Yoga Girl is pregnant!", my interest was piqued.
I had been following lots of different accounts of popular women documenting their pregnancy journeys. As a doula I love seeing the process of what different mothers go through and share online, and eventually seeing the posts announcing their little ones arrivals, sharing their birth stories, & seeing their babies grow up.
And Yoga Girl was no different! I was so excited every time she shared a new post of her ever-growing bump, and reading about her blisses and challenges surrounding her pregnancy. As she grew more and more uncomfortable in the last weeks of her pregnancy, just like all of her followers I was so anxious for her to finally give birth (she used a doula by the way!). My mom and I gushed when Rachel posted the first few photos of her long awaited baby. How special is it that we all get to see Lea Luna grow up too!
Lately though, since she started her podcast shortly after her birth earlier this year, I became even more immersed in her life.
I read her book, I listened to her podcast episodes, I even scrolled way back on her Instagram account to find the posts around the time where her best friend died. I saw her grief and recognized it like the grief I had after my father died.
I began connecting to her on a deeper level than just liking her pretty photos online.
I saw that she is a real person who goes through hard times and still finds the good. Her view of life resonates with me and inspires me all the time.
How She Did It
Her story is not mine to tell. So I'll try my best to be very careful and only say things that she herself has described either in her book or her podcast. Because this is too good and inspiring not to share for anyone doing the whole entrepreneur thing.
She found her niche with Yoga and Instagram. She started her account when it was still very new and there weren't many people posting photos of themselves doing Yoga on the beach; something you see very often now. Naturally, her photos quickly gained popularity, but where she was living, on a small Caribbean Island, she was still quite unknown.
It wasn't until a trip to Orlando at a surf expo for her husband Dennis' work, that people suggested she teach a class. So she just started cold-calling Yoga studios in the area, asking if they would rent the space to her. After many "no's" she finally got a "yes". She advertised it only on her Instagram and just expected like 6 or so people to show up. Over 40 people ended up coming, more than the studio could hold. Some driving for hours. Just for her.
This sparked the idea for her and Dennis, that she could do this for a living. To travel the world teaching Yoga. And she did just that! She kept calling studios, and making things happen, and everything eventually just snowballed.
Part of the reason she became so popular, why people connect to her so much (including myself), is that she is authentic. She doesn't shy away from talking about hard things. She talks about her difficult childhood, and teenage years (outlined in her book which I highly suggest). She talks about depression, and pain, and all that negative stuff that everyone experiences. But she also shares the good. And it's not fake. She is an enormously joyous person (something her baby has brought out tenfold in her), finding the love in most situations.
She promotes a healthy lifestyle, the whole core of which being self-love, however that may look. She is about loving yourself & empowering people, something that speaks directly to my soul. It is this sincerity that made her the inspiring person she is.
I sometimes on occasion have even asked myself "what would Rachel do in this situation?". And then I try to do that.
A loving insight from her book:
"It doesn't matter where you've come from or what you've experienced in your past. Your happiness is in your hands! We are not victims of our circumstances. We have the power to change how we are feeling."
I try, all the time now, to look at life and situations with this in mind. It's not always easy. But man does it feel good!
One of my goals is to one day take a trip to Aruba and take one of Rachel's Yoga classes. I can't wait for that day!
Rachel, if by chance you should ever read this, I just want to say thank you. Your story, your authenticity, your gratitude, & your love inspires me all of the time.
Really, thank you, thank you, thank you.
If you need help trying to figure out which Yoga mat would best help you with your practice, there's a great guide here!