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This month we hosted one of the world’s most popular, young, international yoga teachers out there – Rachel Brathen. Rachel is a relatively new teacher on the International Workshop circuit; growing her popular Instagram handle – Yoga Girl – to full-time International Teacher and Handstand Pro in under 2 years. Born in Sweden, a University town called Uppsala just outside Stockholm, Rachel finished school at 18, and feeling uneasy in her situation and in her own skin, decided she needed to move and travel – in seek of adventure and a different way of life. Rachel arrived on the tropical shores of Costa Rica, Central America and decided to make a home there. Although she had practiced yoga in Sweden, Costa Rica was where the love affair with yoga grew and began to change her life. She trained as a Yoga Teacher and began leading classes.

Alea Warner Photography

Skip to 3 years later – still living in Costa Rica – Rachel goes on a holiday to Aruba (a Dutch Colony in the Caribbean) with her family. There she meets a local guy who owns a surf and skate shop, falls head over heels and decides not to leave! This is where Instagram and the social media phenomenon that have made her a well-known and sought after yoga teacher developed.
Rachel started taking photos of herself practicing Yoga (mostly handstands) on the beach in Aruba with her dogs. She then began teaching SUP (Stand Up Paddle Boarding Yoga) on the island. Her pictures of the clear azure seas, powder white beaches and toned bikini bodies practicing yoga seemed to do the trick, appealing to Instagram users all over the world – Rachel’s fan base exploded. She now has over 600,000 followers on Instagram and is growing her reach using other social media platforms like Facebook and a weekly Blog.

So what does Rachel ignite in her followers? Why are girls and boys, men and women of all ages interested in her life and point of view?
Firstly there is the element of escapism – people wishing to be at the beach, wistfully scrolling through her photos and seemingly care free, easy life. Then of course there are guys and girls that fancy her – an attractive, athletic Scandinavian practicing in the Caribbean sun, in a bikini, on the beach (it’s easy to see why). Thirdly, Yoga is constantly gaining popularity across all demographic profiles, ages and genders globally. Thanks to people like Rachel, yoga is becoming increasingly popular as everyone from health and sports professionals are incorporating yoga into their lifestyles and feeling the benefits.

But even for all the reasons I’ve mentioned above it doesn’t explain why amongst the hundreds, probably thousands of similar types of accounts on Instagram, Yoga Girl has managed to separate herself from her peers, achieving the most rapid success in growing and developing her following Although beautiful, tanned and with a fantastic body – it seems that people can easily relate to Rachel and are not intimidated by her. She is very open about her body by regularly expressing her own positive and negative thoughts and the struggles she had growing up in image-obsessed Sweden. This refreshing honesty about body image is a break from the usual air brushed ‘perfection’ that celebrity culture constantly bombards us with.

She offers ‘lite’ positive psychology and positive body image content along with her Instagram shots. She posts the good, healthy food she eats and also the indulgent, sugar heavy treats. She talks about life being fun and enjoyable, but also times of stress, unease and anxiety – it’s all about finding the balance. Basically she seems to have hit the lifestyle nail on the head, posting just the right amount of relatable honesty, while keeping her colourful life in Aruba aspirational. Rachel has broken the mould of the International Yogi, she has harnessed the Internet to create and spread her image. She is honest and forthright in her posts and is leading the cultural wave in wellness, self-belief and healthy living.

Alea Warner Photography

Her biggest achievement though is opening over 600,000 people’s eyes to yoga every day. She has shown people that may never have noticed or been interested in Yoga, that it can be whatever you want it to be – physical, spiritual, healing or transformative.
Hosting Rachel brought yogis and non-yogis from all over the country and even some from abroad. People who had never set foot in a yoga class before showed up to learn and practice with her (in the midst of a huge gale force storm I might add), and yogis with a strong practice came to learn more. Rachel is an inversion specialist and her ability to instruct the handstand basics was so effective that plenty of handstand novices around the room very quickly found themselves upside down, seeing the yoga mat from a different perspective. With assistance from her fiancé Dennis, the two demonstrated the handstand basics mixed with some heat building, flowing vinyasas creating a light hearted yet intimate atmosphere.

Using social media, Rachel has helped to plant the seed and open the door for people who might never have tried yoga; whether they were too scared, put off by the spiritual element of the practice, or rebuffed it as too easy and only available for the older generation.
She is a young face changing the Yoga landscape – inspiring us to practice and live positively.


Author Matt

I started YogaHub out of a room at the back of someone else's house back in 2012 with nothing more than an idea. I'd been teaching Yoga since 2008 and had no intention of opening a Yoga Studio. I think, like everything I've done, I just decided one day I was going to give it a try. And try I did and if you're reading this I guess I'm still trying.

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