I met Rachel Brathen (@Yoga_Girl) this past August 2017 in Sweden. I had signed up to participate in her NGO 109 World Women's Mission Trip dedicated to raising awareness of sexual violence and funds for the Panzi hospital in Congo. (Photo credit Soda Lime @sodalime)
I admit when I first saw Rachel in the flesh I had butterflies and swoon eyes and felt a bit star struck. That is until I heard her speak and greet each and every one of us. She is such a down to earth, lovely and caring person and immediately I realized she is human just like us.
Her knowledge of Yoga is in depth and studied. She knows alignment, and her cuing is so good that she doesn't even need to move to demonstrate, we can move into the postures easily following her words.
I think the part that stuck with me the most about Rachel was how she made sure to chat with all of us, and she would sit down amongst us at breakfast or lunch and just chat about light things or about heavy things. She never once left us feeling like she was any more important than the rest of us. I'm not sure why I thought she would be any other way - after all her Instagram account is flooded with real life and vulnerable moments and feelings. She just lays it all out there.
Her work around the world spans way farther than handstands on the sand and yoga poses in tropical places. She owns and operates 7 companies - two of these are NGO's aiming to help the world change for the better (109 World and Sgt. Pepper's Friends) and she has most recently partnered with a Swedish initiative and Yoga of Hope to raise funds for Childhood Cancer in Sweden.
She does all this all while owning a studio in Aruba, a cafe a boutique, an online yoga platform and she is going to be launching her first teacher training this year. Oh and did I mention that she is a mom! This woman is bad ass and shows us that you can have it all and do it all and make the world a better place!
So, when I had the chance I asked Rachel a few questions about her life and gratitude.
Can you think of a specific situation where finding gratitude was really hard and you had to dig deep to find it?
Yes - any time the universe throws me a curveball. When things get hard, one of the first things that happen for me is I tend to get stuck in whats not working and I forget about all the things that actually do. My best friend past away and for a very long time I didn’t feel grateful for anything, which was a downward spiral into things feeling much, much worse. We NEED gratitude for our live to function! No matter how tough things are, there is still beauty in the world. Find it!
As a new mom in social media you have had so many opinions come your way about parenting. Seems like it’s "open season" and anyone and everyone thinks they have a right to judge your choices. How do you handle all of these negative comments and opinions?
It’s hard. I try to remember that people like to share their opinions because thats whats worked for them and not only because they like to judge (even though there is plenty of that around, too). We are all just doing our best. I try to tune the negative stuff out and focus on following my intuition when it comes to parenting - so far so good!
I myself have struggled with body image. You posted not long ago about your followers commenting on your “post-baby body” and how frustrated you were with these comments. It’s super ballsy to comment on someone’s body to begin with but, can you share your thoughts on this concept of “post-baby body”?
My body did a superhuman thing! It birthed a baby! Now is not a time to judge or label it, it’s a time to celebrate and appreciate it. Yes, it’s softer than it was before. Yes, it weighs more. But for a greater purpose than anything I’ve ever done! We lose sight of the magic that is our bodies when we try to change it. I’m doing my best to stay healthy and feel good but still enjoying all the sweet things life has to offer without guilt.
What is your version of a gratitude attitude? #mygratitudeattitude
Gratitude is something we need to connect with every day! Not just once in a blue moon. Make it a daily practice - keep a gratitude list!!! And try to automatically drop into gratitude when things get rough. It’s the best way to step into the light again :)
Thank you so much Rachel for your generosity in answering these questions!