Listen to the podcast here! / Read original article here!

She’s a study in contradictions. On one hand, she’s a renowned Yoga teacher. But she’s an Instagram sensation with beauty shots in beauty spots – of Yoga poses. Her life story is not atypical; as a young teenager she did not have to look for trouble. It drove right on up, and whisked her way to a life of excessive drinking. She is one-of-a-kind, as typical as can be, yet she aspires to teach others what she’s learned that took her way from a life that was going nowhere fast.

Rachel Brathen’s ‘Yoga Girl’ tells us her life story (so far) and shows us the basics of Yoga. The embrace of opposites that makes this more than a fashion journal. ‘Yoga Girl’ is many things to any single reader who chances to pick it up. The power here is that you take what you wish, make of it what you wish and then come around again and find something new.

brathen-yoga_girlThere’s no human who is going to pick up this book without first leafing through the many photographs. Rachel is lovely, and smart enough to include both posed and unposed shots. The color schemes re bright and beachy, perfect for a summer browse. This book as a book of photos to leaf through is well-designed and eminently easy on the eyes.

If you get past the pictures, the story is a raw memoir and a tale you’ve probably heard before. A pretty girl grows up and in her teens discovers the power to party till she comes to the brink of ruin. Up to this point, familiar. But then, Rachel discovers meditation and yoga and turns her life around, and things start to fall into place.

About this time in the narrative, she’s dialing up the yoga teachings, paired with the on-the-mat photos and poses. She she learns in her life, she starts to teach readers in her book. It’s a smart way to undersell a physical and spiritual practice that can seem daunting., especially when practiced by someone who is clearly quite skilled.

‘Yoga Girl’ represents a fascinating intersection between our rapid, vapid social media and the sometimes equally vapid world of celebrity instant biographies. Brathen braves the world of print by simply being herself, with the idea that by doing so, she can demonstrate to those less perfect than she that it is also ok to be yourself – no improvement required. In a sense this is not a self-improvement book so much as a self-approval book. Take all this, the book itself and pair it with the on-line and social media presence, and you begin to discover a whole person. That person might even be you by the time you finish the book.

“…it’s that emotional connection to believing that you can…”

Yes, she is just as beautiful as she appears in the book, and she’s a concise, smart speaker as well. Much of what we discussed involved social media. She came to the world via her Facebook page, and in particular, her Instagram page. She is an Instagram star, with millions of views. It’s rather a lot of responsibility, which she handles with the ease of well – a yoga instructor.

We talked about her life and how she wrote the more raw parts of her memoir. For a woman who rules the Social Media Yoga World, which includes rather a large number of people, she did not have it easy and she did not at first make it easy on herself. But when you her speak, you can hear a core of inner strength. “Core” of course, is a concept of some import in yoga practice. Rachel brathen had that core long before she took up yoga.

Berathen is the first to admit that Social Media is a shallow pool, and that she wanted to dive deeper. This book get readers part of the way there. Paired with her social media, we have a new sort of gestalt creation, a woman who exists in two worlds. You can hear her bridge those worlds by following this link to the MP3 audio file.