Whether you’re a devoted yogi or you just love wearing your “Namaste in Bed” T-shirt 24/7, you’ve probably heard of Rachel Brathen, a.k.a @yoga_girl on Instagram. With more than two million followers, the bendy blonde’s account (filled with tons of photos taken on the beach in Aruba, where she lives) could inspire anyone to at least give savasana a shot. “I never set out to create a yoga-centered account, I just chose the name @yoga_girl for a very random reason,” says Brathen. “I was just sharing my dogs, my breakfast, and other regular things, and I realized any time I shared anything about yoga, the response was big, people were curious, and they had tons of questions.
Today, Brathen’s yoga brand has expanded beyond her Instagram account to her website, OneOEight, which features online classes taught by yoga teachers, meditation guides, and healers. “I wanted to create a home, a bridge between social media and the real world,” she says. “Social media isn’t really for instruction or deep guidance, it’s great for inspiration. I launched OneOEight to create a community for healing.” These days, Brathen (who’s pregnant!) considers her yoga practice a time to get active—but also a time to de-stress and maintain her zen. “Some days you need to feel like you’re moving and sometimes you need to make space and time for yourself and sit in silence,” she says. (Tone up, beat stress, and feel great with Rodale’s new With Yoga DVD. Here, she shares her favorite moves for when she needs to relax and unplug—plus, how to modify them for soon-to-be mamas like her.
How to: From tabletop position, separate your knees wider apart, then sit back to your heels so your heart can melt to the floor, forehead on the mat. Rest your forehead on a block or place a blanket between your knees if necessary. Stay here for 10 breaths or more, focusing on breathing deeply in through your nose, feeling the breath as it flows. Pregnancy modification: “If your belly is big, separate your knees even wider so you have space for your stomach,” says Brathen. “In the third trimester, you might not be able to put your head down, so use a block so you’re elevated.”
How to: Position yourself in tabletop, then inhale to open through your heart and pull your shoulders back, letting the belly go (A). Exhale to round the spine, pressing your rib cage to the sky (B). Repeat for 10 rounds and 10 breaths. Move slowly and listen to what your body says. Pregnancy modification: “The cow stretch is a lot more challenging than it looks if you’re pregnant,” says Brathen. “Pause when your body tells you and aim for less of a curve of the spine.”
Bent-knee downward dog
How to: From tabletop, tuck your toes and press your sit bones up to sky, bending your knees so your heels lift off the floor. Press your belly toward the top of your thighs and lengthen your spine so you have a long line from your neck all the way up to your tailbone. Take five slow breaths here. “This is a softer, less energetic version of downward dog,” says Brathen. “For anybody who has the slightest tightness in their hamstrings, the first down dog of the day can be really challenging; this makes you not want to focus on your hamstrings at all, instead you focus on lengthening your lower back.” Pregnancy modification: Separate your feet wider to make space for your belly and hold the pose for fewer breaths if necessary, says Brathen.