Source: Rachel Brathen/Instagram
October 12, 2016 07:13 AM

Social media fitness star Rachel Brathen – aka Yoga Girl – is 20 weeks pregnant, but it hasn’t stopped her from doing daily yoga workouts.

“I think the practice of getting on your mat every day is really important to keep that routine, but [it’s also important] to not have an expectation of what it needs to be,” Brathen, 28, tells PEOPLE. “Some days I want to do a lot of sun salutations and I want to sweat a bit, and that’s great, but most days I’m really craving slow [movements that are] about opening up and breath work.”

“Even if it’s five minutes of meditation or connecting to your baby and to yourself and checking into how you are feeling, I think that routine of stepping on your mat every day is good to keep,” she continues.

Brathen says she has been modifying her workouts throughout her pregnancy, and only does what feels right.

“I’m a really big believer in listening to your own body,” she says. “I don’t think there’s a perfect yoga recipe that fits everyone. For me, anything that involves deep twisting or core work, I stay away from that. Then, of course, lying on your belly. Even in the beginning it didn’t feel good, so I had to remove those types of poses.”

“More than anything for me it’s been slowing down,” she continues. “I’m used to this very sweaty, dynamic 90 minutes of yoga every single day, and it’s become 45-minute gentle practices at the end of the day.”

Practicing yoga regularly has helped the Aruba-based yoga guide get through the different phases of her pregnancy.

“Physically, it’s helped me steer clear of back pain, and any hip opening is really good in preparation for birth,” she says, “but I think more than anything the most important part is just keeping that connection to your body as it changes, from hormonal things that you can’t even see, to watching your body change. Having that body awareness is really, really helpful.”

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Being aware of her body needs has also helped guide Brathen with her food choices.

“If you have that body awareness, it’s also super helpful when it comes to your nutrition – what you’re eating and how much you’re eating and how often – being able to listen to that,” she says.

After getting past her first trimester in which any foods that were warm or spicy made her nauseous, Brathen now mostly craves fruit and healthy foods – but not always!

“One day I had a massive McDonald’s craving. I hadn’t had meat in a decade, but I thought, maybe it means I need to eat a little bit extra today or more iron,” she says. “I actually got a Big Mac without the meat, and then I made my own veggie patty at home. It was the first time in like 15 years I’d been to a McDonald’s!”

And though her body is in the spotlight thanks to her social media following – Brathen has 2 million Instagram followers – she is embracing any changes it has been going through.

“I’ve always been a big supporter of self-love and embracing and accepting ourselves as we are, and that goes along with transition and change – it’s even more important at that time,” she says. “I’m just concerned that the baby’s healthy.”

While Brathen hopes to be able to continue practicing yoga throughout the rest of her pregnancy, she is going to take it day by day.

“I’ll play it by ear,” says the founder of non-profit 109 World. “I haven’t done this before, so I don’t know what it will be like!”

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