By nature, I am a decisive person. Need a decision made quickly and with confidence? I'm your gal. Unfortunately, my decisions are, historically, not always the right ones (see: dropping out of college; continuing unhealthy relationships; youthful mistreatment of my liver; scrunchies). I thought that my decision making would improve with age, and it has. Mostly. But there are still those hastily-made decisions that leave me questioning my ability to navigate safely through life (see: The Great Pixie Cut of 2013). On a whim, and armed with an inspiration picture of Miley Cyrus, I visited my local discount hair salon for the $10 Tuesday special. I walked out disappointed and full of regret. I felt exposed, vulnerable, uncharacteristically self-conscious. I was Samson without the violent tendencies, Fantine without the crying. A familiar chorus: I made a terrible mistake.
By trade, I am a yoga instructor. I love yoga and believe it is a pathway to a healthy body. More importantly, yoga provides tools that help you handle the craziness of this world -- how to not get knocked down when the waves roll in. But yoga isn't about finding balance; it's about finding equanimity. And equanimity requires maintenance.
After The Great Pixie Cut of 2013, I realized I wasn't who I perceived myself to be. Pre-pixie cut, I never considered myself vain. I wore minimal make up, almost never spent time in front of a mirror. I didn't own a hair dryer. I grew up being told that girls were either smart or pretty, and I preferred to be smart. Post-pixie cut, I realized that I was more concerned with my outward appearance than I thought. I didn't feel pretty, and that realization bothered me. My hair was a security blanket, and once it was gone, I was left with nothing to hide behind.
In The Yoga Sutras, a seminal yogic text that establishes guidelines for yogic living, Pantanjali teaches that control over the fluctuations of the mind comes from practice and non-reaction. Abhyasa and vairagya. Dedicated effort without attachment to the outcome. Yoga is the work and not the reward. As a yoga instructor, I am knowledgeable and skilled in all aspects of a yoga practice, and I try to live my life in a yogic way. In my physical practice, I am able to find this balance. I can dedicate my effort to a pose without having an expectation of how the pose should look or feel. Off the mat is another story. Non-reaction is difficult and doesn't always happen, but I try. And yoga is in the effort.
The day after the pixie cut, I decided to grow it out. For the uninitiated, growing out a pixie cut is a long, painful process which forces you to become intimately familiar with how the body functions. It's similar to pregnancy, except it takes longer and you can't register for gifts. My stylist recommended regular haircuts to avoid awkwardness (see: mullet). When I had long hair, I rarely got a haircut. Short hair requires effort. In the words of my stylist: Growth requires maintenance.
In the past year and a half, I've practiced patience. I've practiced releasing expectations of how I should look. I've tried to embrace who I am and not who I perceive myself to be. I've practiced non-reaction. I don't believe practice makes perfect, but yoga is in the effort and not the reward.
I'm thinking of getting another pixie cut, because hair grows back. Eventually.