Rachel Abrahams: Dancer, Yoga &Pilates instructor

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Bio:

Rachel Abrahams has been practicing yoga for over ten years taking classes at Atmananda Yoga, YogaWorks, Jivamukti, and in Ashtanga yoga. Yoga became the cross training routine for her career as a freelance dancer. Rachel has performed with BODYART Dance, Yin Mei Dance, Third Rail Projects, Shen Wei Dance Arts, and Jessica Gaynor Dance. She has performed in New York City and internationally with FUERZABRUTA. Her love for the body and all things movement led her to go deeper into the practice of Yoga to become certified to teach with the intention of spreading knowledge and helping others get closer to their bodies and themselves. Rachel currently teaches weekly studio classes open to the public as well as one on one sessions in New York City and Brooklyn, New York.

What do I do best?

Collaboration, improvisation, intuitive sequencing. I know I still have a long way to go as far as acquiring knowledge and honing my teaching skills, but I’m definitely proud of myself and my movement/anatomical intuition so far. Sometimes gut instincts and a little thinking on the fly (relatively speaking) yields some really rewarding choices.

What makes me the best version of myself?

Coffee! Just kidding. Feeling balanced allows me to feel most like me. Living in Brooklyn with the hustle of New York City, it’s easy to get lost, be frustrated, and operate from a place of negativity. Anytime I’m drifting too far off I try to do little things to remind myself of what I’m working towards, or what it feels like to live life again. The work hard/play hard dynamic is so tired. I’m interested in things that lift me up. That assist me in feeling centered so I can really be present rather than feeling like I’m living in a work machine that never stops moving.

I also look at wrinkly bulldogs on Instagram. Internet therapy dogs help A LOT.

What are my aspirations?

I aspire to be a valued resource for the people I love and my family in the yoga community. I aspire to handstands on my fingertips and enough strength in my mind to complete a Half Ironman. I aspire to living fully, be of service to others, and help people to get down and have fun. Movement is so important, dance, yoga, running, whatever it is. Helping people figure out what they love about being physical I absolutely consider to be part of my job as an instructor. Movement is part of being and connecting. It’s so important to remind people of that!

My Biggest Success?

A big success in recent years for me has been honoring what I have and what I have accomplished so far. These days it’s so easy to see what other people have, or appear to have. I try not to get overwhelmed by what I think I’m missing out on, what I haven’t worked towards, or opportunities that just aren’t in the cards for me. My ability to adapt and move forward is really fulfilling to name, recognize, and remind myself of when I’m feeling self conscious or shaky in my decision making.

My Most Challenging Moment?

In 2013 I had surgery on my right leg that took me away from dance for a long time. Even after I was healed, it took a lot longer to be as functional as I previously was. I was working in restaurants and dancing a lot but long before the surgery happened, I had been feeling like I wasn’t using my brain, I felt incomplete. The time after being healed, after traveling a bit, and getting back to work ultimately put me on the path to deciding what I needed to do: teach Yoga. I was afraid my body wouldn’t be strong enough. That there was too much damage or that I would some how end up hurting myself through practicing. Being unsure of the body’s resilience is scary because there’s always the other option. In 2015 thyroid cancer was found in my body and another surgery took me out of my dancing and teaching life. This time I was in the middle of a Pilates Mat training. There was all of this renewed trauma that was stirred up. Through it all I was able to remind myself that the training wasn’t life or death. I gave myself permission to be the worst Pilates instructor ever, to take my time with healing and getting back to work completing my hours, and not only did I end up loving the work, I found a weekly teaching job shortly after finishing and booked an Off Broadway show one month post-op. The surgeries shifted my life but everything I’ve done after has been in pursuit of strength, balance, and knowing that there is always a way to return. It’s not always about going back or having things be the way they were, but it is about showing up again to what you knew with renewed openness and fresh perspective.

My Motto?

I don’t really have one. I find it very helpful to use mantras during meditation and intention setting during my yoga practice, but day to day I don’t really have one thing I come back to. Except music. Maybe it’s music! My motto is listening to music : )

My Favorite People/Role Models?

I’m inspired by a woman who’s killing the game, creating, innovating, running her company or studio, and providing opportunities for others. I like diversity of jobs and opportunities for myself, but chances are I’m mostly focused on one thing. I’m always impressed by people who can juggle many interests and projects simultaneously. I’m always in awe of the talent people possess. It makes me dig deeper for my own passions.

I’ve been fortunate to have grown up with my mother and grandmothers still living and present in my life. Even mothers in the form of Aunts and close family friends have helped show me how modern women can be different, can exist, and thrive. I take all of these people with me when I make major decisions

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

Thailand is one of my favorite places. Well, really just exploring Southeast Asia. Montauk, New York has a special place in my heart because my grandparents used to live out there. I’m really just in love with the ocean, a balmy jungle, or being surrounded by trees…and yet I live in NYC! Anywhere I can feel spiritually free whether through experiencing new cultures and customs or by being connected with nature, that’s the place I want to visit. I love the feeling of “I live here now” even if it’s only for a short time. Traveling makes me so happy and centered. I have to remind myself that there is importance in staying home for extended periods of time too.

My Favorite Products/Objects?

COCONUT OIL! Eucalyptus or any plant life. Coffee. A golf ball/tennis ball/foam roller type of contraption.

My Current Passions?

I get really excited about Anatomy, Evolution, and Biomechanics. I can nerd out on Skeletons and observing movement for an unusually long amount of time. Sharing the information with other teachers is also some of my favorite teaching to do. I’ve been working on different workshops and curriculums and hopefully will have some passion projects coming to fruition soon!

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B&W photo by Chad Wagner & Steven Trumon Grey

Tree Pose Color Photo by Jaqlin Medlock Photography