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With more than 2 million followers on Instagram, you might think Rachel Brathen (a.k.a. @yoga_girl), is in it for the Insta likes. But behind the fancy poses and swoon-worthy Aruba backdrops, Brathen uses her platform for honest dialogue. She’s shared real stories about family struggles, death, and her bumpy past. Brathen even took a strong stance during the #MeToo movement, asking her yogi Instagram followers to share their stories of sexual misconduct and abuse that happened in the yoga space. More than 300 yogis sent Brathen their stories, often naming the yoga teachers who’d abused their power.
Brathen’s Instagram wasn’t always a place for this kind of social change. In 2012, Brathen’s Instagram account looked like other Insta-famous yogis’ accounts, filled with inspirational poses that @yoga_girl made look easy. In 2014, Brathen decided to switch up her content and talk about the suffering she was experiencing. “That year, my entire Instagram following changed,” says Brathen. “I used to get questions about yoga poses or pants, but then people started asking for serious help—with depression and loss, eating disorders, even suicide. I’m not a therapist, so my staff and I began looking for people to whom we could connect our followers. I realized I needed to go way deeper if I was going to actually be of service.”
A lot has changed since 2012, including the launch of the Yoga Girl® brand and the Yoga Girl® Foundation, which was created by Brathen and her mother, Shama Persson. The three main priorities of the foundation include child safety and abuse prevention, self-love and self-esteem empowerment in women, stress reduction, and anxiety prevention.
The Yoga Girl® brand recently launched a series of products—inspirational totes, shirts, and pins—where 10% of all sales are donated to the Yoga Girl® Foundation. Here are our favorites from the collection:
Shop Yoga Girl’s New Collection
1. 1st Edition Mood T-Shirt
This scoop neck tee comes in four different colors and all different sizes, ranging from “Xtra Special” (XS) to “Xtra Xtra Lovely” (XXL). We especially love how the models on the website are all different shapes, sizes, and ethnicities, proving all of us are Yoga Girls®! $49, yogagirl.com
2. Billboard Sign Pin
Say it loud, say it proud! We love this bright-colored pin, inspired by the mantra “I am…” It’s is the perfect accessory to clip on to your yoga bag or jacket. $10, yogagirl.com
3. 1st Edition I Can’t Touch My Toes Tote
How many times have you heard the phrase “I’m not flexible enough for yoga” or “I can’t do yoga because I can’t touch my toes?”Hopefully this tote will silence those naysayers and inspire them to try yoga no matter their flexibility. $39, yogagirl.com
4. Yoga Every Damn Day Pin
We will forever support the famous #yogaeverydamnday, a hashtag Brathen created when she started posting on Instagram. It celebrates the idea that a daily practice isn’t dependent on duration, body type, location, or perfection. Rather, it’s about dedication to the practice. $10, yogagirl.com
5. 1st Edition Yoga Girl Definition Tote
This beautiful blue tote is large enough to fit all of your necessities and cute enough to tote anywhere—work, a weekend trip, or the yoga studio.
See also 6 Best Yoga Gifts for Kids
6. Ringo the Gringo Badge
Brathen’s love of animals made its way into the collection: Her dog, Ringo, is one of many she has rescued and often makes an appearance as her beloved yoga partner. This badge is a perfect way to add a little puppy love to your tote or jacket pocket. $8, yogagirl.com