Interview with Rachel Brathen, Yoga Girl
Rachel Brathen, the Yoga Girl
Swedish native, Rachel Brathen, 27, better known as “Yoga Girl”, is an Instagram phenomena, international yoga instructor, New York Times best-selling author, motivational speaker and more, who is based in Aruba.
How did you hear about the Path of Love?
My mother did it in 2008 when I was 20 and I saw how it supported and helped her. I’ve been meaning to do it since then. I actually did a couple of Osho-inspired groups when I was 18 and 19 but my mother told me POL was so much deeper and so I knew it must be the one. But I obviously wasn’t ready for it when I was 20.
How does doing POL relate to your yoga practice?
It actually made me realise how surface my yoga practice (Vinyasa Flow but I improvise and bring in all sorts of different influences) has been. I’ve been doing yoga for 10 years and it has been wonderful physically and I always focus on heart-opening in my teaching, but on Day 3 of POL I did Child’s Pose on my yoga mat and I actually for the first time felt my heart really reach and drop down to the ground. That was phenomenal. That has never happened to me before. Because of all the emotional work that I had been doing, I was able to feel my heart in that way. That felt so good.
Why was now the right time for you to do POL?
I actually signed up for POL three times but I finally made it to Germany this time. Two years ago, some awful things happened to me. I lost my best friend just before my wedding in a car accident. Then my dear dog died and my grandfather passed away. I knew I needed to grieve but instead I got busy. I didn’t stop, I was teaching yoga all over the world and my classes were getting bigger and bigger. My social media status was also growing. And yet, I knew I would have to give myself some time and this was the time for me. In the end, I was so determined I took a 14 hour flight to Cologne in order to finally do it.
Had you read about it beforehand?
No, I just had a longing to go. I saw the effect on my mum but we never spoke about it. I trusted it was the right thing at the right time.
Were you nervous?
I was calm and unprepared! But when it started, I was terrified.
I was actually scared at first that people would recognise me. I have a big public profile (1.9 million Instagram followers) and I worried about how this would affect me and if I could just be myself. In fact, I managed to get a single room because that was also one of my fears i.e. sharing, but then on Day 3, I had a very intense, negative experience in the middle of the night and found myself alone. At that moment, I wished I’d been sharing a room.
What were the challenges for you?
Well I was familiar with Dynamic Meditation and I also have asthma. I know my asthma is fear-based a lot of the time, and it’s a way my mind controls me. I did find though that I couldn’t get through the entire meditation without using my medication. And in the end, I accepted that and it helped.
How was the verbal sharing?
Terrifying. I realised that I share so much of myself on social media in such a deeply personal way but when it comes to doing it in person, I was so scared. It took a few days to build up the trust but then I started being able to do it much more. This has been a whole journey for me around vulnerability and being able to express it to others. It’s a big relief to do it.
How was having that space to feel?
For the first few days, I literally could not stop crying. I was so exhausted, I found myself leaning against walls in the breaks. There was so much sadness for me to express. It was hard for me to be this vulnerable.
What else did you discover about yourself?
How connected I have been to my mum and how it’s good to be separate too. This has been a big teaching for me. I also learned how to truly let go. I always thought I was letting go in yoga but this is a whole new level.
How do you think you will take POL into your yoga teaching?
I already have. In Colorado last week, I had a class of 600 and I decided to get them to pair up and share for ten minutes. This was risky because they had signed up to a yoga class. I really didn’t know how it was going to work but they loved connecting on a deeper level to each other.
And how are you taking POL into your personal life?
My husband was a bit nervous about what would happen, but he’s loving the more real me that has come back. POL has put me in touch with my purpose on a higher plane. I also really feel worthy now of teaching yoga the way that I do. It’s given me a big spark, a big zest to make positive changes in the world.
Published by Rose Rouse / Path of Love
(Photo via Instagram)