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5 Things I Learned From Attending Rachel Brathen’s Gratitude Tour

As many of you know, Rachel Brathen is a world-renowned yoga instructor and inspiration leader. She has become a yoga icon with her book, Yoga Girl, Instagram account with over 1.9 million followers. To me and so many other yogis, Rachel is a guiding light and inspiration.
Aside from the obvious physical benefits of yoga, many of us turn to the practice to heal, fill a void in our lives, or sometimes, just to find ourselves. Rachel’s presence on social media has helped thousands of people, on an ongoing journey, to do all three.
Like many of you, I instantly became a Rachel ‘groupie,’ following her journey around the world. Her words are so honest and her heart so open, it amazes me how someone can be so free.

They really should make What Would Rachel Do (WWRD) bracelets.

She was coming to New Jersey for her Gratitude Tour and I eagerly bought my ticket for her guided practice. I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived that day, but I walked away feeling like I was finally able to let go of all the burdens in my life that have been weighing heavy on my heart and racing in my mind. And I was not the only one.
Five hundred people gathered that day to share an experience, a yoga practice, a good cry, and when the tides in our eyes finally settled, each and every one us left the arena a better person than when we walked in, clarity shining from all of our faces.
The purpose of this article is to share with you five philosophies that I took away from that class with Rachel. These concepts have not only helped my yoga practice, but have also helped me grow personally and find more balance in my life.
Here are 5 things I learned from attending Rachel Brathen’s Gratitude Tour:

1. Acceptance.

We started our class that day by setting an intention (as we usually do), and the card Rachel pulled from her deck of Angel Cards was “Acceptance.” It was perfect.
We are always trying to change ourselves: be stronger, more flexible, more open, more everything, and sometimes, accepting that progress will happen in its own time, (in your life and in your yoga practice) is the most daunting thing to do.
Just take a deep breath of acceptance right where you are, right now, and remember that you are enough, just the way you are.

2. Trust: in yourself and in your fellow yogis.

This was a strange notion for me to warm up to. There were 500 other people in class that day and our yoga mats were very close together. Rachel encouraged us have trust in our neighbors; to lean on them when we needed balance and trust that they would be there to help us.
There is so much competition in our world today and we are so reluctant to ask for a helping hand or support from those around us that it ultimately inhibits our own success. (MAKE BOLD QUOTE)
During stretches in the beginning of class, I was reluctant to move off the real estate of my own mat. I felt like I was being intrusive, but as class progressed, we all relaxed, and as the flow got more difficult, I found comfort and strength when I broke through my own boundaries and allowed myself to let my neighbors help me.
You have to first trust in you own ability to connect with another in order to reach your full potential.


3. This too shall pass.

The shaking in my legs that day was unbelievable. I think I was nervous – scared of not being on the same level as everyone else. It can be very intimidating to practice with so many people. It’s hard for me to not look around the room in a studio with ten people, let alone 500!
During the Q&A portion after the practice, someone asked Rachel how she was able to handle the great deal of pressure and stress that comes with being so open and exposed on social media.

She said very simply to all of us, “this too shall pass” – a mantra she tells herself when she is feeling overwhelmed, criticized, sad, or upset.

Something can only hurt you if you let it, so do not give attention to negativity – it can eat you up and control you. But the only thing you have to remember is that this too shall pass, and let it go at that.

4. There is not one “perfect yogi” mold.

Impossible to forget, yet hard to remember – we are unique and special and wonderful – each in our own ways. Yet we live in a world that encourages comparison, and it is difficult to turn that off when we arrive on our mats and expect ourselves to suddenly transform into the ‘perfect,’ selfless yogi.
Rachel was so honest with us and she was shamelessly herself: emotional, calm, and brave all at the same time. We all were.
It’s hard to believe that she ever has moments of doubt, but it’s natural and she reiterated that IT IS OKAY. When your mind is buzzing with judgement (or just thinking in general), recognize your thoughts for what they are, label them, and then return to your breath.

Self-awareness is key.

We all work at our own pace and we are discovering and developing ourselves on our own individual journeys. That progress is not only ok and acceptable – it’s perfect. Embrace it as such.

5. Open Your Heart.

Be kind. Realize that everyone has their own story and we are all doing the best we can.
Countless people shared their lives with complete strangers that day, all with the intention of thanking Rachel for helping them survive through tough times.
Everyone can use a little inspiration. Some need it everyday just to get out of bed. Others need it to cope, to move on, and some need it to achieve personal goals.
When you open your heart to the possibilities that await you, only then can you start achieving your wildest dreams.
We all have preconceived notions of what we should be, where we should be, and who we should be. Honestly, it’s very overwhelming. It is important to remember that everything you will ever need already lives within you. But in days of doubt, I hope you can recall these philosophies and breathe easy.
Be well, live with good intention, and stay grateful.
Featured image: Instagram @yoga_girl

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Brittany Nowicki

Brittany Nowicki is a yogi and writer drawn to the practice on her journey of self-discovery. Finding inspiration around every corner, she takes joy in writing on her blog as well as reading on the beach, running, painting, and a fresh vase of flowers.

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