She is a teacher of yoga and the author of the book Yoga Girl, which became a New York Times best-seller. She has millions of followers on her social media accounts. Her self-founded yoga studio called ‘Island Yoga Aruba’ is her place comfort place to just be! A leading magazine also rated Rachel as the most influential social media person in the fitness category! Here is a candid conversation with the leading yoga lady.
How do you define yourself as an individual (and professional/as yogi)?
I am first and foremost, a mother and a wife. I am a friend, a daughter and a sister. I also consider myself a writer, a yoga teacher, podcast host, entrepreneur and someone who is always searching for deeper healing and meaning in my life. After all, that is the practice!
When did you realize that you had such a strong interest in fitness?
I wouldn’t say it was such a strong interest in fitness, but more an interest in getting to know myself better and feel good in my body. It all led me to yoga. It began after I moved to Costa Rica when I was 18.
How did you discover yoga?
I first discovered meditation when I attended a meditation center in Sweden when I was 18. After moving to Costa Rica shortly after, meditation played a big role in my life. I was also reading all the books I could find on yoga’s philosophy and history. It was only after practicing meditation for years that I slowly transitioned into an asana practice.
When did you first start teaching yoga?
I began teaching yoga after I moved to Aruba when I was 21 years old. This is when the asana part of my practice really developed. It started with teaching small classes on the beach, to teaching at a hotel, and now owning my own studio.
Why did you decide to open a studio in a commercial space?
I had such a strong, committed community of yoga practitioners in Aruba, as well as a community all over the world – it just made sense to have a place for all of us to gather together. I wanted to create a place that everyone could truly call home.
Where did you grow up? What was your childhood like?
I grew up in Uppsala and Stockholm, Sweden, mostly with my mother and siblings. My childhood was full of drama, separation, loss and unhappiness. I really didn’t see any meaning in my life until I attended that meditation center. Everything changed after that and I began on the journey I am still on today.
How did you make transition into a fitness career?
Again, I don’t really consider myself as having a career in fitness because that’s not what yoga is, but my transition to doing this work began when I started teaching classes to the local community where I live. A few years later, I started sharing my journey on Instagramand after that I began traveling around the world and sharing my practice through yoga classes, books, podcasts and more.
Do you have a fitness mentor or role model?
Yes, Ram Dass! I come back to his teachings again and again, and have ever since I began this journey over a decade ago. There is something about his words that ring such truth in my heart.
What motivates you or pulls you towards fitness?
When I am practicing yoga, I am in the present moment. I am not in the past, overthinking things that happened, and I am not in the future feeling anxious about what is to come. I am in my body, not in my thinking mind. It is this practice that brings me back every time. Our entire life is spent in the present moment, so the more we can tune into that, the more at peace we will be.
From where do you get your inspiration?
Right now my biggest inspiration is my daughter. She is 3 years old, and nothing but herself. She cries when she is sad, rests when she is tired, laughs when she is happy. I think adults can learn a lot about feeling their emotions through the role model of a toddler who always remains true to theirs!
Please tell us about the best moments of your career so far.
The moments that stand out to me career-wise are the release of my two best-selling books, and the launch of my platform Yoga Girl (www.yogagirl.com). I have put so much heart and love into these, and seeing them out in the world feels like the first step in important work for all of us.
What does your regular day look like in lockdown?
Aruba is slowly transitioning out of lockdown – something I have mixed feelings about! It has been nice to connect with our community again, but somehow I miss the quiet days at home with my family! Usually I spend the morning having breakfast with my family, then my daughter goes to daycare and I roll out my mat to practice. After that I spend some time behind my computer working, then I do my Dynamic Meditation (right now I am practicing dynamic every day!), prepare lunch and pick my daughter up. In the afternoon we tend to our vegetable garden, do arts and crafts, play or do something fun, like go to the beach! Our days are pretty calm.
What are your top ‘yoga’ tips?
Always, always, always listen to your body! Listen to your needs and adapt the practice to meet them. Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing on the mat. Your practice is for you. It’s easy to start comparing ourselves to others so remember that this journey is unique to you – it’s yours, and yours alone. Keep practicing and you will feel changes in your body, mind and heart.
Any pro tips for people trying to adopt a healthy lifestyle at their homes?
If you can learn to love yourself as you are, without feeling the need to change, you will automatically adopt a healthier lifestyle. You will cherish your body for all that it is and the blessings it gives you every day, and then you will treat it better, and then you will love it even more. It is a beautiful cycle that starts with knowingyou are good enough the way you are. I recommend healing practices like journaling, and sharing, as complements to our yoga practice to continue doing the inner work we need to feel balanced in life.
What does your daily diet include?
My family and I are vegan. For breakfast, we usually start with a smoothie, and we love pancakes! I make my own plant-based mix that’s both nutritious and delicious. Every day looks really different depending on how I am feeling. I love green juice and salads, but also banana bread and a glass of wine!Lunches are usually soups or stews and my husband Dennis and I usually cook dinner together. It ranges from vegan chili to veggie burgers to curries… Really anything you can imagine! We love being creative in the kitchen together.
Favorite Holiday Destination
My home country, Sweden to visit my friends and family. Costa Rica is also a second home to me, and I love going there with my husband and daughter.
Jeff, Who Lives At Home
Your Pamper fix
Spending time in my garden, for sure! And I love our sauna, and taking long baths.
I love dahl! And tacos.
What advice would you offer someone just discovered yoga?
Be patient with yourself. Yoga and meditation are lifelong practices. So many people quit when they are just getting to the good part. If you are willing to look deep within yourself, to heal what needs to be healed so you can heal the community around you, then welcome to the practice!
What are some common fitness mistakes you’d caution people to avoid?
Don’t get caught up focusing on what you look like. What matters is how you feel! You don’t have to go into the deepest posture you can every chance you get. Our bodies are different every day, so our practice on the mat should look different every day. The most important part of the practice is listening to your own body.
How has fitness and yoga changed your life?
It has changed every aspect of my life! Yoga is a sacred practice and so much more than exercise (with great benefits to our bodies and our health, of course!). It is a lifelong practice, and something I try to incorporate into all parts of my life, from my practice on my mat, to my relationships, my business, and even when I am standing in the grocery store line feeling impatient. Yoga helps me ground into myself; it’s an anchor in my day-to-day life.
More about Rachel Brathen : https://www.instagram.com/yogagirlofficial/