When Rachel Estapa was just eight years old, her ballet instructor pulled her aside and said, “Rachel, you have no grace." Hearing that hurt, but she wasn’t shocked. “When I looked at my ballet classmates, I knew the painful truth: my body didn't look like theirs,” she recalled in an essay she wrote for The Huffington Post.
Now, 12 years later, Estapa—founder of a body-positive movement called More To Love—is on a mission to show women out there that you can be active, even graceful, at any size. One way she's spreading her message? Awesome snaps of herself doing perfect poses.
“I had never seen anyone with my body type doing yoga—I always had this feeling like I’m not allowed to be there,” Estapa said in an interview with Health. "I’m a larger woman, and women like me feel intimidated about it."
When Estapa first took a yoga class eight years ago, she hated it. The moves felt awkward, she couldn’t keep up in class, and her hands slipped off the mat. “Not to mention I went into it feeling like I couldn’t do it,” she said. But there was something about yoga that made her want to try again. Classes continued to be difficult, but she kept returning.
“There was just something right and wonderful about it—it was one of the only times in my day that I could be completely in the present moment,” said Estapa.
Now yoga is an integral part of Estapa's life, so much so that she's about to begin training to become a certified instructor so she can integrate yoga into her body positivity platform. She hopes more women pursue whatever activity brings them happiness and body acceptance, whether that's yoga or something else, hence her sharing her photos.
“Visually seeing someone like you doing what you want to do is encouraging—and it’s something I wish I had seen when I first started with yoga,” said Estapa.
Her plan is already working. One comment at the bottom of her blog for The Huffington Post reads, “I've been wanting to do yoga but I was going to wait until I lost more weight. I think I might have a go anyway.”
Estapa's advice for anyone who is considering a class but nervous about what observers might have to say about it:
“If you’re able to experience all the things about moving and bending in awkward positions, and love yourself in that moment, you can apply [it] to so many aspects of your life outside of class, too. What you get from it is more important than what other people’s comments may be.”