Yogi Rachelle Tratt's Advice on Breakups + What Keeps Her Heart Open



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Rachelle is a wild, free, gypsy soul. It is her magnetic energy, her ability to feel the needs of her students and her delectable playlists that keep her yoga classes packed. When she’s not teaching or leading yoga events, she’s spreading beautiful blue hamsa necklaces around the globe as the founder of The Neshama Project which she started in honor of her mother. You can follow her adventures (and her cute pup Bailey!) @theneshamaproject.

HER FIRST HEARTBREAK
“My first heartbreak happened when my mom died. I was a nine year old little girl and my mother passed away very suddenly and tragically. That changed my life. I went through post-traumatic stress as a little girl, so my body actually shut down and I don’t remember a lot of my childhood due to that. And it’s been a constant journey ever since to get back to matters of the heart in a healing, conscious way and hoping to help others that have gone through something similar.”

INNER WORK
“I’m a big advocate of self-help and psycho-spiritual work. I’ve been seeing various forms of different healers and therapist since I was a little girl. So I actually think it’s weird when people say they haven’t had therapy in this day and age. Right now I’ve been seeing a traumatologist. She helps people who have been through trauma in their body to get it out of their body. A lot of times, we store it in our bodies and you can get triggered very easily. It’s interesting how I’ve chosen a profession where I help people get more embodied and sometimes I’m not. A lot of what we do is inner-child work and so I actually have a photo of myself as a nine year old little girl, in my house, and if matters of the heart get triggered, I’ll visualize her and that I’m holding her hand and I’m like ‘Hey were perfect right now. Life is perfect. It’s great. We’re here in the present moment, and we got this.’ Thats a great visual. I do a lot of visualization work with that.”

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REASSURANCE SHE WOULD GIVE HER NINE YEAR OLD SELF
“Life is beautiful. You did it. You made it and this pain that you feel now is going to help people in ways that you don’t know yet and it’s going to deepen you in ways you’re too young to know. And you will love again and you will have your own family one day. You will be a light in the world because of this.”

REBELLIOUS HICCUPS + FINDING YOGA
“There were different life events that forced me to go inside, such as rebellious hiccups I had as a teenager. I was forced to take a look at myself and reasoned with myself, Ok what path do I want to go down? If I go down this path, I don’t know what’s going to happen and if I go down this path, I have a chance to live and thrive. And that’s actually when I found yoga. I was eighteen. It wasn’t just a physical aspect for me, but also to be still - in my head. And it eventually started to permeate in every area of my life and turned into a lifestyle. But in the beginning it wasn’t. In the beginning it was physical and it was a way to get a little more space in here [points to head].”

HER FIRST ROMANTIC HEARTBREAK
“It was when I moved to Venice. I was living in Florida. I grew up in upstate New York. I’m the gypsy of my family so everyone is still there and after high school, I was like peace out. I went to Arizona and then to Florida, and then moved out here seven years ago. And I moved out pretty much on a whim. I came out to do a yoga training with Shiva Rea and, at that time, I was not doing that type yoga and it changed everything. I was here for a week. I was in Venice Beach and I hadn’t traveled yet. I was twenty three, and at that time, I had been in a two year relationship with a really beautiful, amazing person, who was older and he was ready to settle down and I wasn’t. So I pretty much broke his heart, picked up and moved my stuff in a matter of a month. My family didn’t support me. They told me I was crazy for breaking things. I had about six months worth of savings in my bank account. I brought my dog Bailey, hopped in my car, and moved in with the only person I knew. And so that decision was very heartbreaking. It was like leaving a life of comfort and stability for the unknown, not having a supportive network and just trusting. I just had to believe that it was going to make sense one day. I regret the pain that was caused on someone special, but I don’t regret my decision. And that was about seven year ago.”

HER MENDING RITUAL
“At that time, things were intense because I had just moved out here and everything was new. It was challenging. I had Bailey, was working a few jobs and was trying to figure out how to make it all work, but my ritual was always yoga. Yoga, walks with Bailey and nature have always been and always will be my source. Get on the mat, move it out, get into nature, connect.”

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HER HEARTBREAK VICE
“My rebellious hiccups when I was in high school. I was very into partying. I wouldn’t drink every day but when I would drink, I would black out. I was just numbing. I was finding ways to numb. Not wanting to cope and not having the tools yet to cope with such an intense heartbreak that I dealt with as a little girl.”

THE HARDEST LESSON ON LOVE SHE'S LEARNED
“That in one moment everything can change. That just because you love someone doesn't mean that you are right for one another. And that timing in life truly does take a big role in how a relationship will play out.”

BEING AUTHENTIC
“I had to go through various heartbreaks and experiences so that I could understand myself a little bit more. And even with my current relationship, at one point in the beginning I said to myself I’m just going to show up as me and I’m going to do the things that I like to do in relationships. I’m very giving. I like to leave notes. The second that I’m doing it because I’m expecting it in return is when I have to stop and look at myself.”

PUZZLE PIECES
“It’s very new but all these puzzle pieces that I’ve been putting out in my life are coming together. I often feel like I’m a walking dichotomy. I’m a yogi, I’m an entrepreneur. I grew up with a traditional Jewish background and I love Israel, but I go to Burning Man - how am I going to meet someone that’s going to meet me on all levels? My older, protective brother was like, ‘Rachelle, I’m sorry but I just don’t think that your GQ, spiritual, Jewish, Israeli, entrepreneur, model exists.’ I was like, ‘Thanks bro, but I’m not going to buy into that.’ I don’t live my life thinking that way because that’s a very limiting point of view.”

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CAN EXES BE FRIENDS?
“I have always believed that love doesn't necessarily go away once you are broken up. While the relationship may not have worked out, if there is still love that exists, a genuine care for another human being, than yes I do believe you can still be friends. It will always be a little weird at first, and new boundaries need to be put in place, but I am still friends with some of my exes who I care deeply about as beautiful souls that I was lucky to cross paths with at some point on this adventure. If you find yourself stalking your ex on social media and getting triggered, then I highly suggest to stop following them. Only positive vibes.”

THE NESHAMA PROJECT
“The word ‘neshama’ means soul in Hebrew and when you’re in Israel, everyone sort of uses it as a term of endearment. Theyre like, ‘oh you’re such a neshama’. The ‘N’ is in honor of my mom - her name is Nicole. While teaching yoga in Florida, a student of mine from Israel gave me this necklace. It meant so much to me because I was like, Oh my god! This is from where my parents met. And people commented on it everyday and it became a conversation starter. The necklace was about overcoming love and loss and principles of yoga and Israel. I was around twenty at the time and in the back of my head, I was like I’m going to do something about this one day. I bought the domain and it stayed dormant for nine months because I had no idea what it was. No idea. Then I went back to Israel, found a manufacturer in Tel Aviv and got thirty stones to start. I went to Downtown Los Angeles to find some chains. I picked up Trader Joe’s bags because they’re a better brown hue than Whole Foods. I’d get a typewriter and type out different positive sayings on the card. And I would put those on the cards the necklaces came with. It wasn’t because I thought it would be business - I just needed to create. Then one person wanted one and another person wanted one, and I sold out. A friend was like, ‘I’m going to build you a website because I believe in you.’ And then I went back to Israel and got more stones. I partnered up with Innovation Africa. They’re an Israeli company and they take Israeli technology and bring it to African villages. It’s really exciting and now we’re in the process of figuring out what our next campaign is. It’s been me with a little bit of help, and what keeps me going is the stories of how it connects me with people around the world.”

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WHAT KEEPS HER HEART OPEN
“Honestly, I believe that life will constantly give you opportunities to both break your heart and crack it wide open. You can either choose to be a victim or you can choose to be a survivor and take your heartbreak and turn it into a beautiful piece of art that starts to paint the portrait of your life story. I choose to survive and thrive and create meaning from heartbreak, not just for myself, but also to help inspire people along the way.”

HER MANTRA: SHOW UP AS LOVE
“The world and people are constantly going to break you heart. In any given moment - no matter what is received or given back - how do I show up as love for myself and for the people in my life? I think so much of the time, people are afraid to be themselves, especially in romantic relationships, because their minds get filled with ‘oh maybe I’m too this, maybe I’m too that.’ Fuck that! If you’re too much anything, then you’re with the wrong person. No matter what, show up as you, as love, at all times and it will eventually be received by the right person. I’ve been told that I’m too much by many people, and I just don’t have any room for that anymore.”

Photographed by Ellen Huerta in Venice.