By Sarah Batcheller and Whitney Johnson

In Rachel Brathen’s new book Yoga Girl, you’ll not only find the key to a successful harmony of body, mind, and spirit, but you’ll also discover how to utilize this balance to achieve a fulfilling relationship and love life. The book is about more than just twisting on a mat; in it, Brathen shares her own life journey and how the physical and emotional healing process of yoga led her to understand the importance of living in the moment and appreciating all the good that surrounds us. Yoga Girl takes readers on an unforgettable journey from a place of uncertainty and insecurity to one of wholeness and happiness. In our exclusive author interview, we uncovered the mysteries of all the gifts that yoga has to offer.

Rachel Brathen Shares Inspiration for Yoga Girl

What inspired you to put your experiences and your yoga teachings into one book?

I have been writing for as long as I can remember, and I’m lucky to have an audience that’s excited to listen to what I have to say right now! I wanted to share my journey in-depth — not just the life I have today, but the obstacles and hardships that brought me here.

Related Link: Gaiam Product Review: Learn Yoga and the Art of Self-Love with Rachel Brathen

In the introduction, you write that “we do not love ourselves enough.” How can yoga help someone find the self-love that’s missing from their lives?

Aside from the physical benefits we get from the practice, one of the most important things that yoga teaches us is how to listen to the body. Body awareness — learning how to feel the body and be grateful for what it does for us every day as opposed to judging ourselves — is a huge step when it comes to finding love for ourselves. Yoga brings us moments of complete presence and a break from the constant labeling and drama that’s created by the ego on the daily.

Can you talk a bit about acting instead of reacting? How does this behavior relate directly to relationships and love?

Whenever we find ourselves in a tricky situation, we often react to it right away, which usually means judging the situation from similar experiences we might have had in the past. Reacting with fear from past experiences is what causes us to become aggressive or insecure. It brings out jealousy and other qualities that might not correctly represent who we actually are. Looking at the situation with fresh eyes of the present moment — acting instead of reacting — allows us to take things for what they really are without tainting our experience with emotions from the past.

In terms of romantic relationships, it’s important to know that just because a past love hurt you doesn’t mean a new one will. There is no need to play games or be afraid of commitment. Let go of whatever patterns you may have that separate you from love, and remember that each moment is new and so full of potential!

We loved the chapter titled “Love Over Fear.” What’s your best tip for someone struggling with choosing love and overcoming their fears?

Most of the time, we are the ones standing in our own way. The mind tends to look for worst-case scenarios, and before each big step in life, we automatically see all of the things that could go wrong. By focusing on the negative, we hold ourselves back and try to create in a space of fear. Instead, focus on all the things that could go right! There are infinite amazing experiences waiting for you. Manifest those by living in a space of possibility and love!

You moved to a tiny island with a man you only knew for five days…who eventually became your husband! How’d you know that he was The One?

I just knew right away. I can’t explain it… He made me nervous, and I’m never nervous! That’s how I knew the first time I met him that there was something special there — he stirred something in me that I couldn’t pinpoint. When I got to know him, I felt so comfortable and at home that five days may as well have been five months! Moving in was easy.

Newly-Minted Author Gives Love Advice

Now, we’d love to get some love advice from you! How do you believe that yoga can improve our relationships with our self and our loved ones?

We need to make peace with who we are and feel whole on our own before we can commit to another person. Yoga can help us get there by teaching us how to become present in the moment so that we let go of a lot of the judgment that keeps us from living a life we truly desire.

Related Link: How to Be Mindful When It Comes to Relationships and Love

What can couples gain from practicing yoga together?

So much! A yoga practice is a very intimate thing, and it gives us a routine to stick to as couples. Watching each other grow, learn, and have breakthroughs on the mat is very rewarding. Also, have you ever held hands with your partner in Savasana? Best. Thing. Ever.

Finally, can yoga help someone heal after a break-up? 

I think so. If we do it right, we can create lots of emotional release on the mat. Much of the tension we hold in the physical body is created from our inability to truly let ourselves feel and experience pain. By not expressing and releasing pain, it gets stuck. If it has nowhere to go, that tense, negative energy goes into the body. That’s why the older we get and the more we experience emotionally, the tighter and stiffer our bodies become. By moving into poses with long holds and focusing on releasing tension, we can open up emotionally.

You can purchase Rachel’s book Yoga Girl on Amazon. You can also check out her new yoga programs on Gaiam.com!