Rachel was sixteen when she took her first yoga class at a Bikrim studio close to her home in Salt Lake City. She signed up because she saw the sign hanging in the window and was curious, but knows now she was searching for something deeper.
“Looking back, I was searching for an escape,” she says, "I had a rough home life, and needed a space to let go of everything that was going on around me.” During that first class, she really struggled with the heat. “I think that was part of why I loved it - I loved the idea of overcoming physical sensations with the mind.” She began a regular practice immediately. “I joined and started going as often as I could. I was there every day, sometimes twice a day.”
Growing up competing in various sports, Rachel wasn’t a stranger to adversity, but the notion of taking time for herself was new. “Playing sports, there’s a lot of external distractions; you’re pushing yourself and trying to win, trying to be good for your team or your coach or your parents,” she says. “But yoga was just about myself and about healing, and that’s what I fell in love with. Taking time for myself in a moving meditation really helped me be able to quiet my mind and be present with my breath, something I had never done before.”
When she moved to New York for college at NYU, she found herself feeling lonely and homesick. Soon, she took refuge in her practice at the donation-based studio across the street from her apartment. After hearing a couple of teacher training announcements after class, she figured she should enroll, as she’d be around for the summer anyway. “I didn’t go in with the intention of becoming a teacher - but like anyone who’s taken a teacher training, you’re in this crazy space for a months with like-minded adults and you get to be drunk on yoga all day, and I absolutely loved it.” Still, she struggled with self-doubt and didn’t think she was ready to be a teacher.
After graduating college, she found herself faced with a wide open future. “I realized when I looked at my life, I had always come back to yoga. No matter what was going on with me - through all the hardships and stresses and joys - every time I always unrolled my mat and worked it out. So when I was figuring out what I wanted to do with myself professionally, I decided to push for yoga and go down this path and see where it took me.”
Since then, she hasn’t looked back. Moving to LA shortly after college, she enrolled in more trainings and has been teaching regularly ever since.