We’ve been following Rachel Brathen’s rise to stardom for years. From when she was a virtual unknown beauty living on the island of Aruba posting photos of her açaí breakfast bowls and adventures at the beach, to now a New York Times best-selling author and world-renowned yoga personality.
Last year, we unfortunately missed her book signing in San Diego since we had just moved back to NYC. So when her Gratitude Tour announced a stop at the Pine Belt Arena in Toms River, NJ, there was no doubt we would cruise down the Garden State Parkway to flow with Yoga Girl.
Admittedly, we weren’t sure what to expect: Would Rachel live up to the hype? Would her queuing and anatomy knowledge be on point? Would she make us sweat? Would we be transported to a spiritual place that only someone with several million Instagram followers can inspire? The answer was yes, yes, yes and yes!
Two 90-minute classes were held on Saturday, January 16th (11:00am and 4:30pm). In a dimly lit sports arena in South Jersey, 1,000 yogis laid out their mats, cozied up to their neighbors, and flowed as one.
Rachel’s class was a strategic blend of yin and yang incorporating longer held poses to release tension, mixed with vigorous sun salutations, lots of core work, and purposeful physical touching of one another meant to add support and stability during challenging poses. This intentional connection made a room of hundreds feel extremely intimate and personal.
With her dog Ringo in tow, Rachel walked through the arena adjusting, massaging, and even cracking jokes. Along with assistants from local studios POE Yoga and Bodhi Movement Yoga, this class was truly Jersey Strong!
In an ironic twist on how yoga means to “yoke” or form a “union," before the class began we laid out our mat (literally) in front of long-time Vira Sun fan Megan Carlo-Gabriel. We noticed her friendly face and curly brown hair from her photos, turned around, gave a hug, and felt as if this event was already bigger than just a simple yoga class. It truly was a catalyst that brought together kindred spirits for an experience that will stick with us for years to come.