The new influencer: digital destinations that make wellness accessible and achievable for anyone, anywhere in the world. A few easy clicks and you’re sure to find yoga and meditation classes, information on how to start a healthy lifestyle or a like-minded community. Go ahead and skip the studio and head home to find healing and inner peace in a safe sanctuary, supported by thousands of (digital) friends.
Rachel Brathen, better known on Instagram as @Yoga_Girl, has become the face of the yoga social sphere and a pioneer in the digital wellness realm with nearly two million followers. The owner of Island SUP and author of her memoir/self-help book, Yoga Girl, resides in Aruba with her husband/business partner, Dennis Schoneveld.
Recently, she unveiled her latest projects: one0eight.tv, a platform with a yoga foundation, offering online classes, along with 109world.com, a social mission organization utilizing social media to raise awareness about global challenges. The ‘kicker’ if you will: Both campaigns were created online and crowd funded by her loyal legion of followers via kickstarter.com.
Rewire Me spoke exclusively with Rachel to learn more and get the scoop on why the world not only needs, but is willing to fund, online health and happiness.
“I have been wanting to use the influence I have through social media to create something good for a long time. Through the many, many emails I get every day from people asking for help and support, it was clear to me there was something missing in the online world,” says Brathen. The network oneOeight.tv is a platform with a foundation in yoga, dedicated to healing via education; whereas 109world.com focuses on raising awareness and facilitating change in global issues.
“You can come to the oneOeight site to practice yoga, to work through grief, to improve your diet, to learn how to meditate,” explains Brathen. She hopes those utilizing the platform consider it a place to call home, within a community of like-minded individuals who likely would not have met without this technology.
“Once you have found balance within, you can use that potential to make a change in the world around you. 109 focuses on urgent global cases, and each cause connects to local projects across the globe,” she says. “Through the power of social media, people can support each project by raising awareness or funds, and also by joining our social mission trips where you get to do hands-on work to make a change.”
Labor of love
These digital campaigns have been in the works for quite some time and with plenty of hands on deck. “It’s been a year and a half of hard work and definitely a labor of love! I have good people around me that support both projects,” says Brathen. The yoga pro credits the growth of her brands and businesses as the result of persistence and hard work combined with the power of social media.
Brathen first achieved Internet celebrity status via her Instagram account, posting scenes from Island SUP (standup paddleboard) yoga classes with the stunning aquatic backdrops of Aruba’s beaches. Her first wellness business, Island SUP, works with all local resorts to provide classes for tourists visiting Aruba and started on the beautiful beaches outside the Aruba Marriott Resort and Stellaris Casino. “We love the Marriott and would love to consider a more solid collaboration in the future,” says Brathen.
The Aruba Marriott Resort also utilizes digital connectivity as a means of meeting the health needs of guests. Executive Sous Chef Miguel Garcia tells us that he receives—and accepts—email requests for all types of health and dietary needs, including gluten-free, Paleo, vegan and vegetarian. “Accommodating everyone’s dietary needs is never easy but always a wonderful challenge if you have the passion for it,” says Garcia. “It’s what us as chefs are built for, to ensure that each person is satisfied and delighted with their meal no matter their health or dietary needs.”
While any yogi knows the future isn’t guaranteed, the past is gone and all that’s real is the present moment, Brathen is hard at work planning ahead on all of her platforms. “I see oneOeight becoming a leading voice for online yoga and healing, supporting people through all phases of life. 109 has huge potential. I think there is a real future in volunteer tourism where people actually want to feel responsible for doing good in the world. Hopefully, we can engage bigger companies and work together with local authorities to make an even bigger impact in the future.”
With more and more interest in wellness and constantly improving technology, the next time you want to practice yoga, meditate or connect with other health-minded individuals, all you’ll need to do is log on via your digital device.