Image via Instagram/Rachelestapa.
I remember vividly the moment my ballet teacher said, “Rachel, you have no grace.” I was eight, embarrassed, but not surprised.
When I looked at my ballet classmates, I knew the painful truth: my body didn’t look like theirs.
So with my less-graceful body, I went down the athletic road, diving into two seasons of soccer a year and basketball in the winter. Despite an active life, weight from an early age became my problem.
By the age of 12, I was already seeing a nutritionist who insisted I track everything I ate. I was afraid to write “water” down — was I even allowed to have that?
After a few months with little change despite following a regimented plan, I remember my father saying, "Rachie, you don't need to worry about all this, OK? Just keep moving."
All through my teen years, I played active sports, and my body type was more suited to the rough-and-tumble they required.
On the field, I was a rock. It was one of the only places I felt my larger body did me well. But off the field, I just wanted to feel graceful.
For years I looked at yoga with curiosity, but reservation. Ingrained was my shame of being too stocky, too big, for the more refined arts. (Post continues after gallery.)
My first yoga class was terrible. I couldn't keep up, I slipped my hands off the mat, I felt exhausted, and I certainly didn't experience a shred of grace. But I returned, week after week.
Despite echoes of ballet class, of embarrassment, something deeper inside began to emerge: maybe I just needed to make yoga work for my body, not the other way around.