Yoga Girl Rachel Brathen

“I choose to love myself” is pretty much the best summation of this awesome interview with Yoga Girl/girl crush/ general inspiration Rachel Brathen. Brathen is the star yoga teacher whose poses have taken Instagram by storm (or at least her two million followers by storm).

If only we could live our lives with the same effortless cool as she does; life would be pretty sweet that way. From being an absolute yoga legend (yes she can do all of the insane positions), to cooking vegetable curry and adoring chocolate, this accomplished lady seems to have it all (That, and the perfect Downward Facing Dog). We think that we too shall start cooking tacos and being kind to ourselves. Discipline to do yoga for ninety minutes a day sold separately…

From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day?

Hot water with lemon when I wake up, a green juice after yoga, then either a tofu scramble with loads of veggies or vegan pancakes for breakfast. A big salad for lunch, something with grains or gluten free pasta, with coconut water on the side. Snack o’ clock means a giant cup of green tea (I mean, really giant) and a pomelo. Dinner is something I cook up at home – a veggie curry with brown rice, or homemade veggie sushi rolls, or tacos…And a big piece of chocolate to take to the couch for Netflix afterwards!

How do you practice beauty from the inside out?

I choose to love myself. With that I mean, I choose to focus on the positive and being kind to myself versus obsessing over things I’d like to change or alter. Self love makes you glow! In addition to that, I practice yoga every morning (ninety minutes or so), eat a whole food, mainly plant-based diet, drink a ton of water and spend a lot of time cuddling my dogs and husband every day. And I enjoy the good things in life freely – wine and dessert is meant to be had without guilt or remorse! Eat up. Drink up. Laugh. Happiness looks good on absolutely everyone.

What foods and drinks make your skin glow? Which make it duller?

Water, greens, organic fruits and veggies [make you glow]! Judgment, non-acceptance and talking down to yourself when you check yourself out in the mirror dulls your skin…In addition to too much alcohol, fried foods, and processed foods, of course.

An effective de-stressing breathing exercise one can do in the comfort of their Uber…

Try a five-count breath. Inhale through the nose slowly to a steady count of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Exhale slowly to a steady count of 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Repeat for five rounds or until you feel your body and mind calming down.

What are your morning and nightly beauty routines?

I drink hot water with lemon first thing when I wake up, every day. I oil pull with organic extra virgin coconut oil (twenty minutes). I use Origins products for face; the White Tea Series is lovely. I always put on sunscreen, also Origins. I use argan oil for the ends of my hair. I keep rose water mist in my purse throughout the day to freshen up my skin. In the evening I use Tarte Maracuja Oil on my face before bed.

How do you always start your day?

Hot lemon water, oil pulling, and ninety minutes of dynamic yoga practice. I do these three things every day. After yoga I usually make a green juice; I eat breakfast later in the morning.

What are your tips for keeping your yoga routine when you travel?

Bring a travel mat! Jade has a great one that is so thin it actually folds into a little square and fits in any hand luggage! Make time to practice in the morning – while traveling it’s usually much harder to squeeze in a practice in the evening (at least it is for me).

6-8 crucial health benefits of yoga…

1. It calms the mind.

2. It strengthens the body.

3. If practiced correctly, it can help heal injuries and pain.

4. Learning how to breathe – really learning how to breathe fully – is the most beneficial thing. Knowing how to slow the breath down and bring attention inward can help us in every day difficult situations, wherever we are.

5. It’s a practice of letting go. When we struggle or push ourselves deeper into poses we get nowhere. The moment we let go is usually the moment the body finds release and can sink deeper into the pose.

6. Community! Friends that yoga together, stay together.

What’s your personal mantra?

Trust that life will always, always take you where you need to go.

Advice to those looking to kick start a good fitness routine after many months of nothing…

Start NOW! Don’t wait for better days or for when you’ll have more time, or when you’ll be more ready. The time is now. Starting up a yoga practice is a great way to truly get to know your body – find a type of practice that works for where you are in your life at this moment and it will move mountains. Trust me!

Could you give us three yoga poses best for toned arms, toned legs, and core?

Arms:

Chaturanga

Crane/Crow Pose (Kukutasana/Baksana)

Eka Pada Koundinyasana II

Legs:

Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)

Chair pose (Utkatasana)

Goddess Pose (Utkata Konasana)

Core:

Boat Pose (Navasana)

Side Plank (Vasisthasana)

Handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana)

What 3 poses improve posture and why?

Mountain Pose (Tadasana) – Grounding to the earth properly helps us align and lengthen the spine.

Legs Up The Wall Pose (Viparita Karani) – It’s healing for the lower back and neck and helps release back tension.

Pigeon Pose – Opening the hips and releasing tension in the gluten is extremely important for back health and will release tension in the lower back.

Five pointers for an incredibly active, beneficial Downward Facing Dog…

1. Ground down through the index and thumb and grip at the mat with your fingertips (think active hands – you don’t want to dump too much weight into your wrists!)

2. Wrap the triceps back to engage the arms and create space for the upper back.

3. Relax your head but don’t tuck your chin; think neutral positioning for the neck.

4. Lift up through the sitting bones, inner thighs rotate back.

5. Bend your knees if your hamstrings are tight! It’s more important here to keep space and lengthen the lower back than to put your heels on the ground; bending your knees and lifting your heels will take the hamstrings out of the equation and allows for a longer spine.

Five pointers for an incredibly active, beneficial Warrior II…

1. Widen your stance! A good Warrior II is usually a little bit wider than we think.

2. Engage the upper arms without lifting them higher than shoulder level.

3. Bend deeply into the front knee but don’t allow the knee to tip inward.

4. Press firmly down through the edge of the back foot.

5. Hug your lower ribs in to engage from your center.

What are your favorite cities for food? What restaurants do you go to in each?

I love Gracias Madre in San Francisco, Café Gratitude in LA, Harlow in Portland, Pure Food & Wine in NYC, and Matapoteket in Stockholm.

In the same vein as ‘what is the new black?’ in fashion, what’s ‘the new potato’ in yoga?

The new potato in yoga is yoga focused mission trips. People don’t just want to feel good, they want to do good! 109 World hosts social mission trips with a yoga component all over the world. It’s like a yoga retreat, but instead of lying on a beach all day in between classes you do community oriented work. Down dogs and handstands aside, doing what we can to make this world a better place is what yoga is truly about.

Jen Widerstrom of The Biggest Loser gave us some health and fitness tips. Laura tried hot yoga…read about how it went

*Rachel Brathen, photographed in New York, NY by Danielle Kosann.