Rachel Brathen Yoga: The Ultimate Collection

Add Spice to Your Home Yoga Practice

Rachel Brathen Yoga Collection
Rachel Brathen in Partnership With Gaiam

Move over Pinterest and YouTube! Instagram is the new frontier for budding fitness superstars, and Rachel Brathen is one example of a fitness-Instagrammer turned super-success. Her @yoga_girl Instagram channel now has more than 1.5 million followers who regularly check in to see her impressive yoga images and videos set against a background of island paradise.

What's really amazing to me is how a platform like Instagram can catapult a user's career to new heights.

There's no doubt Brathen was a talented and accomplished yoga instructor even before Instagram was born, but by sharing her teachings through beautiful images online, she was able to expand her reach and become a household name to yogis around the world.

It was this, online following, that led to her New York Times best-selling book, the Yoga Girl Book, as well as a partnership with Gaiam to release her first-ever downloadable yoga collections - Find Your Purpose and Release & Let Go!

In other words, her career is rockin', in no small part due to social media.

But the question remains - are Brathen's yoga collections each worth the $25 price tags they come with, or the $40 combined rate? I had the opportunity to test drive the full collection to give you the inside scoop.

The Ultimate Collection: What You Get

First things first - if you're going to purchase the collections, I'd highly recommend opting for the $40 Ultimate Collection that includes both series, rather than buying the programs separately.

Each individual collection includes five, 20-minute practices, so when you purchase them together, you get 10 practices, or 200 minutes of instruction for $40. Not a bad deal, and the combo package means you have many more options when it comes to trying and combining different routines.

Individual and Combination Practices

The Find Your Purpose series includes the following practices:

  • The Everything Is Okay-Flow
  • Rise & Shine!
  • Sun Saluters Unite!
  • Find Your Purpose
  • Time to Relax

The Release & Let Go! series includes the following practices:

  • The Shoulder Unfolder
  • Intuitive Body Awareness Flow
  • Twist & Shout
  • Connecting to Your Center
  • Release & Let Go!

Based on the practice titles alone, you can probably tell that each practice seems to fit with the next practice, as if to form a full yoga workout. For instance, The Shoulder Unfolder is a fairly calm, stationary routine consisting of more methodical movements and poses and longer holds. The next practice, Intuitive Body Awareness Flow is still fairly calm and steady, but gets you up and moving around more, while still purposefully helping you tune into your body.

Each series continues to progress, becoming more active and challenging until the last practice in the series, where Brathen slows things down again, leading to what amounts to a cool down.

While I really enjoyed performing each practice (and I did perform many of them back-to-back), the reality is most people don't want to spend 100 minutes to complete a full yoga workout.

While users can absolutely pick and choose between practices, opting for a 20, 40, 60, 80 or even a 100-minute routine, something about this setup felt "clunky" to me.

For instance, if I only want to workout for 20 minutes, but I want to do a more challenging routine, my body might not actually receive enough of a warmup during the Twist & Shout sequence, making it tough to use as a stand-alone workout. Instead, if I wanted to do Twist & Shout, I'd probably need to give myself a full, 40 minutes and pair it with The Shoulder Unfolder or the Intuitive Body Awareness Flow to ensure a well-tuned warmup.

To this point, I wish the series came with suggestions for practice pairings. This would help students properly select practice combinations to fit within their exercise timeframe while ensuring a safe and effective flow.

Stand Out Moments

After several years of taking online and real life yoga classes, I'd say I'm pretty familiar with standard sequencing and transitions. One of the things I liked most about these practices were the surprises. I'd never heard of transitioning from a supine position (on your back) into a chaturanga (essentially a pushup). I'd also never followed a class as free-flowing and loose as the Intuitive Body Awareness Flow. These surprises kept the series interesting - I wanted to know what the next class would hold.

The Double-Edged Sword of the Online Class

Online workouts are becoming the norm, but it's still a brave new world out there, and downloadable videos aren't without drawbacks. While I love the instant-access to online workouts, and I appreciate the ability to take the practices with me wherever I go, I'm not a fan of watching videos on small screens. Brathen's workouts are designed to be watched on iOS, Roku, Chromecast, Mac & PC, but aren't compatible with Amazon Fire TV (the service I use). While I could watch the videos on my phone and PC, I wasn't able to easily sync them with my big screen.

On the up side, Brathen's verbal cues were excellent, which meant I didn't have to spend a lot of time looking at her for guidance on poses, but when I did have to look up at my phone or PC, the picture was small, making it harder to discern the nuances of poses, especially some of the new ones I learned.

Who It's For

All-in-all, I think The Ultimate Collection package is a good buy for anyone looking to spice up their yoga life, introduce a few new sequence transitions to their practices and benefit from a wide variety of class styles. On days you want a more yin-yoga class, stick with The Everything Is Okay Flow or The Shoulder Unfolder. On days you want to feel the heat, try Sun Saluters Unite or Twist & Shout. There's a little bit of something for everyone (particularly those with a foundational understanding of yoga), and Brathen's quality instruction makes it a solid purchase.

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