I cannot say enough awesome things about Rachel. She is just a joy to be around. She is always smiling, always mindful and present, always kind and thoughtful. She is literally the reason why I built TULA. Thank you, Rachel, for showing up everyday. We are a better community because of you.
Here’s a bit more about Rachel.
Hometown: White Rock, British Columbia
Sign: Total Gemini.
Favorite Color: Phthalo blue
Favorite Movie: Empire Records
What would your last meal be? BC cedar smoked salmon and blueberries!
What brought you to yoga?
I started doing yoga at home as a teenager while struggling with anxiety and depression. I also wanted to become physically stronger. During university I worked at a health store/yoga studio in Vancouver and got much deeper into my yoga practice—but unfortunately for the wrong reasons. My mental health had deteriorated and I found myself doing physical yoga practice to lose weight, which is not a good situation for someone with anorexia. I ended up having to take a break from yoga for many years while I worked on my recovery.
What brought you to TULA?
I started coming to Tula in 2016 in an effort to keep myself stable and healthy while writing my PhD dissertation and digesting the aftermath of a very painful breakup. I was terrified I was going to fall back into the eating disorders I had finally kicked, and I needed to learn how to be with myself kindly. I tried a class at Tula after biking past it. The first time I walked into the studio I felt safe. It means a lot to me that there are no mirrors in the studio, that people of all ages and sizes do yoga here, and that every teacher at Tula focuses on the interior aspects of yoga.
What is your favorite yoga pose (and why)?
Dancer. It requires you to find your balance, open your heart, and stand strong, and then be able to laugh at yourself when you fall on your face.
What are the benefits you have experienced from a regular yoga practice?
There are too many too count! I have a much greater ability to investigate what I’m feeling and to sit with it. I can actually feel my body now. There’s a condition called alexithymia that a lot of people dealing with eating disorders and other mental illnesses have; it means you can’t determine what you’re feeling or what sensations mean. Spending time on my mat or sitting quietly in meditation has enabled me to sense what my body is doing and how that relates to how I’m feeling—like if my chest is so tight I can’t draw breath I might find myself experiencing panic. Yoga has also enabled me to sit with joy more, and to accept love.
What is your Least favorite pose (and why)?
Double pigeon! My hips cannot deal.
What advice you would give someone just starting yoga?
Be patient and stop beating yourself up for not knowing the poses. Try lots of different classes and teachers—there are so many different ways of doing yoga.
What is your favorite after-yoga activity?
Floating home listening to a Harry Potter audiobook and then making a mess cooking something.
List 3 fun facts we don’t know about you:
- I’m the middle of 5 kids
- My spirit animal is my dissertation advisor’s Airedale, Kazoo, who I’ve been looking after for 6 years. We have a lot in common—she’s delighted by life, has the attention span of a toddler, and finds the world deeply confusing.
- I have degrees in painting, creative writing, and English lit.