Her name is Ali, but to her Instagram followers, she is the Freckled Yogi. Ali Basye-Featherston is a student at the University of Maryland, but she is also a certified 200-hour yoga teacher with a notable social media presence. For more than two years, Basye-Featherston has been sharing yoga-related pictures, videos and captions on her Instagram account, which began as just a name – freckled_yogi. “I’m obviously very freckly and so I wanted it to be some type of name that resembled who I am, but also included yoga,” Basye-Featherston said. “I was sitting on my couch and it just kind of came to me.” However, Basye-Featherston hasn’t spent much of her time sitting on the couch. She started dancing at the age of two and continued for the next 16 years. As she transitioned from high school to college, Basye-Featherston also transitioned from dance to yoga. “I wanted a new type of exercise that was going to be fun but also make me work hard,” Basye-Featherston said. Yoga fulfilled her criteria, and Basye-Featherston quickly fell in love. She began displaying her love for yoga through posts on her original Instagram account before ultimately deciding to launch @frecked_yogi. “I was like, it might be a little annoying for people I went to high school with to constantly see yoga photos,” Basye-Featherston said. “I was like, I want to post an obnoxious amount of yoga photos so I might as well make a new account.” Basye-Featherston didn’t expect that new account to attract such a large following. “I remember being pumped about 20 followers; I was like yes! I just hit 20, here we go,” Basye-Featherston joked. Then those 20 followers steadily turned into thousands. However, this success cannot be attributed to pure luck. As her account grew, Basye-Featherston actively worked to expand her reach. She ditched her phone’s camera for a higher quality camera, she began collaborating with other social media yogis and she became a certified yoga teacher. Before she became a teacher, Basye-Featherston solely posted pictures of herself doing yoga because she didn’t feel qualified enough to give her followers tips and workout ideas. However, Basye-Featherston now includes that additional content, which she said has improved her connection with followers. “Recently somebody told me that I was the reason that they started their yoga teacher training, and that made me want to tear up.” That somebody was @alexandracaroline_, who is a follower from Colorado. A few months ago, she reached out to Basye-Featherston via Instagram asking for advice because she had been considering the training process for a while. “She inspired me to do it. Best decision I have ever made! I am so thankful for that,” she said. While social media enables Basye-Featherston to connect with people like @alexandracaroline_, who live far away, her reach also extends beyond the screen. “She has a very calm voice, so it’s very nice,” Noa Dar, who has attended many of Basye-Featherston’s yoga classes in person, said. “She does a lot of actual hard workouts so any time I leave her class I’m so dead, but it feels really great.” Making people feel great is one of the reasons why Basye-Featherston loves teaching so much. “It’s just that smile that people get on their face after a class,” she said when referring to her favorite part about the job. Even though she teaches multiple people at once, Basye-Featherston said she looks out for each of her students individually. If she notices that one person’s back appears stiff, she then sequences in different elements to help that particular individual. “It’s more of a personalized experience, even though the class is for everyone,” Basye-Featherston said. Another key piece of that experience is the setting of her classes. While many yoga teachers predominantly host their classes in studios, Basye-Featherston often teaches outside. She likes to tell her students to take note of the sounds they hear as they inhale and exhale. “See if you can pick out one bird’s call, or maybe one person’s conversation,” she said to a class on McKeldin Mall, which is a large open space in the shape of a rectangle bordered by trees and academic buildings. McKeldin Mall is a central location at the University of Maryland and has become a common place for her classes to meet. Basye-Featherston doesn’t just produce content for social media and teach yoga classes; she also takes academic classes as a full-time college student. She said it is difficult to balance her schoolwork with generating new creative content; however, she avoids excess stress through living in each individual moment. “When I’m washing the dishes, I’m thinking about washing the dishes; I’m not thinking about that homework I have to do next, and I’m not thinking about that yoga pose,” Basye-Featherston said. While Basye-Featherston’s schoolwork and yoga can sometimes conflict, they also intersect. She is currently constructing her own major called, “digital marketing for wellness entrepreneurs,” in which she largely studies human behavior and marketing. Basye-Featherston plans to utilize the skills she has obtained in her studies to enhance her presence on social media, and to build her career as a yoga teacher. As a yoga teacher, Basye-Featherston believes that anyone can benefit from practicing yoga, but she also understands that classes can be intimidating for some beginners. “If you’re like ‘oh my god, I’ve never been to a yoga class and I’m worried she’s going to go in there and start saying chaturanga, down dog, get into your pigeon and fly your compass,’ all you have to do is watch some YouTube videos,” Basye-Featherston said. She explained how yoga videos are great confidence boosters, and yoga itself can be too. “As I’ve gotten more into yoga, and as I’ve started investing more time into my Instagram, it’s teaching me that everybody has something they can offer to somebody else, so you should be confident in who you are and what you have going for you,” Basye-Featherston said.