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I Am More to Love Collection

The I Am More to Love Collection is a glimpse into the real jewel of More to Love...our inspiring community comprised of ordinary people who are doing something extraordinary: daring to love their bodies and life, any size.

 
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Introduction

More to Love has always been bigger than one person alone.

In the past two years, we have welcomed over 1,300 individual people in our weekly More to Love Yoga class. Most have never practiced yoga before; most come with bodies that traditional yoga spaces have never prioritized; all know what it's liked to feel judged. 

But through our experience together of one hour devoted to yoga and body acceptance, all have left More to Love Yoga feeling more whole, more loved from the inside out than when they arrived. At least, that is my goal as founder and Chief More to Lovely - to have everyone feel welcomed and cared for.

But I don't do it alone.

One of the pillars of More to Love's approach to body acceptance is sharing your story with others because it's how other people become sparked to participate in their own body-love.  Over the few years, many Lovelies have truly embodied not only the MTL spirit on their yoga mats but out into the world.  And it's been a vision of mine to be able to share with you some of their faces and personal stories. 

The I Am More to Love Collection is a glimpse into the real jewel of More to Love: our inspiring community comprised of ordinary people who are doing something extraordinary, daring to love their bodies and life, any size. This collection just the start - and a mighty one - of what I hope builds into a robust gallery of More to Lovelies. 

Is there a Lovely you relate to? Who inspires you? What little step can YOU take this week to be More to Love?

You're also welcome share your own picture and story on Instagram, just use the hashtag #IAMMORETOLOVE

Thank you to the photographer, and More to Lovely herself, Janelle Leroux for taking these beautiful images and being a wonderful collaborator on this project. Thank you to my dearest friend, Jenna <3, for creating the I Am More to Love poster. Thank you also to Borealis Yoga Community for letting us use your luminous space. 

But most of all, thank you More to Love community, to these Lovelies profiled, to all the Lovelies yet to join us. Know that each day I am working to create a space and experience that honors all of you. I do it because it's valuable, needed, and most importantly, in my ability to.

I hope you become as inspired by these Lovelies as I continue to be.

More to Lovingly Yours,

Rachel Estapa


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Healing and Growing
Meet Anor

What brought you to yoga?

After I started suffering from chronic back pain, sciatica, and arthritis in my knees, a friend suggested I try yoga. I resisted at first. Having visited a few yoga studios over the years, I really didn’t respond well to their approach. This all changed in December 2016, when I found More to Love.

What makes More to Love special?

At More to Love, I found a home where I felt the instructor and students understood and shared my struggles and encourage me to celebrate my body. Since then, the chronic pain, sciatica, and arthritis are all infrequent instead of constant.

Any words of encouragement?

Yoga works, especially the yoga as practiced at More to Love. All yoga is about acceptance, healing and growth. Accept your body as it is. The process of growth never ends, so relax and enjoy it!

 
The process of growth never ends, so relax and enjoy it!
— Anor

 
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Make Room for Love
Meet Lauren

What helps you be body positive?

I've struggled with self-image and self-love since I was little. I'm not sure when it happened, and I'm sure it was a gradual shift, but I learned (and am still learning) that I am worth love, and positive attention. I attribute this to surrounding myself with supportive, loving, and unique people including the More to Love community.

Why yoga?

I joined More to Love because I wanted yoga to be part of my health plan. A More to Love yoga class is an hour during which women of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds lift each other up by joining together in self-care. It feels like a haven. Rachel continuously puts forth a concept that has stuck with me in yoga class and in life: it's not about a race to get from yoga pose to yoga pose and 'achieve' them; it's about the journey you take, the flow of your breath and body between the poses.

The self-love you can achieve when you know a class full of people are not only NOT judging you but rooting for you as you push your physical limits, and do something healthy for yourself.

Got a body-love motto to share?

Be gentle with yourself and savor moments; little victories when you can celebrate your body. Put on your favorite song and dance in your undies or an outfit that makes you feel smashing! Surround yourself with supportive people and nourish those relationships.

Put on your favorite song and dance in your undies or an outfit that makes you feel smashing!
— Lauren

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Unapologetically Me
Meet Rachel

What does your body acceptance look like?

Living in my body unapologetically made a huge difference in my own self-image and self-care, and in my perspective on disability rights. Being unapologetically disabled is a radical condition to which I've aspired for a long time, and More to Love has been a huge help for that.

I like yoga a lot, and More to Love Yoga was the first time I realized that yoga didn't have to be uncomfortable or painful just because I'm a big girl. It's not all or nothing, Rachel acknowledges that self-love and self-acceptance are processes, not instant epiphanies. And I LOVE the focus on wellness without insistence on weight loss!

Any inspiring thoughts to share?

You are allowed to take up space in the world exactly as you are, and you owe no one any apologies for doing so.

Follow Rachel online and listen to her new podcast on disability, public health, and policy.

You are allowed to take up space in the world exactly as you are, and you owe no one any apologies for doing so.
— Rachel

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Affirm Your Life
Meet Wendy

What's your yoga story?

I tried taking a yoga class many years ago but I did not feel comfortable because of my body type so I retreated back to my home where I would practice yoga for 1 hour every morning before going to work.

Then the yoga Gods sent More to Love Yoga into my life. I decided to take chance and attend a More to Love class and I have never regretted the decision. Practicing yoga with the More to Love ladies is fun! Yoga has made my body stronger. It keeps my mind clear and focused and it helps me to deal with the day to day stresses of life. 

What keeps your body-love strong?

Words are powerful! Tell yourself something positive - out loud - each and every day about your body. Write notes of affirmation on post-it-notes and put them on your bathroom mirror and on the refrigerator. This is the only body you have...embrace it!

 

Tell yourself something positive - out loud - each and every day about your body.
— Wendy

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More Compassion. More Acceptance.
Meet Megan

Why does body-love matter to you?

As a woman in a larger body, I have always struggled to feel I belong in our diet-centric culture, especially in health arenas that promote certain body types as more valuable than others.

More to Love has broadened my knowledge of the health at every size movement and shared great resources with me (such as podcasts and events) to help me grow individually in my journey to body acceptance. Because of More to Love, I treat myself with more compassion, which to me is the biggest key to my own body acceptance.

What's your pearl of wisdom to share?

Admire your body for its strength and for all it is capable of doing.

 

Admire your body for its strength and for all it is capable of doing.
— Megan

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Dare to be Seen
Meet Wendee

What was your body-love "ah-ha" moment?

When I turned 30, a lot of things started to change. I finished a degree. I ended a bad relationship. I really looked at my body and saw it for the first time. And somehow, I have no idea where the courage for this radical idea came from, I chose to love and care for it. Ten years later, it’s a different world. Body-acceptance is nearly mainstream. People of all shapes are allowed to love their bodies.

What makes More to Love special for you?

I’m happy to be part of a community of people on the same journey as I am. Some are just beginning, some are miles past me, but we walk the same path. More to Love Yoga has given me the simplest, most basic thing you would expect from a yoga class: guided practice with a skilled teacher who provides both encouragement and corrections.

In my very first class, Rachel gave a modification to a movement that suddenly made one of my favorite stretches not just doable, but sustainable. With just a few words that came from her own experience, she changed everything for me.

Advice for someone new to body acceptance?

This is the body you have now. You need to dress it, feed it, and move it to the best of your ability. If you can, make friends with it. Maybe even dare to love it. Take pictures of yourself with friends, family, and on your own. Selfies aren’t vanity. Document your existence. Get prints made."

This is the body you have now. You need to dress it, feed it, and move it to the best of your ability.
— Wendee

Follow Lauren & Wendee's dance Troupe Ki-ra Luna!


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A Worthy Journey
Meet Johanna

What is your favorite part of More to Love?

Community is so key in this journey to body acceptance, as our society marginalizes fat people. So having people who understand where you are coming from is hugely important.

The More to Love online e-course has helped me a lot in this, in giving me community and realizing that body love and body acceptance is a worthwhile goal to fight for and struggle with. More to Love Yoga gives me a fun, in person community and a way to center myself in the craziness of everyday life.

What wise words can you share to help people just starting out?

Body acceptance is a journey – there are going to be good days and bad days. Everyone has them – even the body love superstars! Don’t let the bad days dim the light of the good.

Follow Johanna on Twitter

Don’t let the bad days dim the light of the good.
— Johanna