Why I Practice Yoga With My Hair Down (From the Editor)
There’s this new trend out there called Buti Yoga. It’s a tribal dance and yoga blend and the result is a butt-kicking, booty-shaking yoga workout that taps into your feminine energy (guys are not excluded here!) and releases your wild side (raaarrrrr!). But this is not an article about Buti Yoga. This is an article on tapping into your feminine energy while reawakening and embracing your wild side.
When I started yoga, it seemed so serious to me. And once I saw the serious impact it had on my mental snags (anxiety, depression, yada yada, blah blah blah), I began taking yoga seriously. Too seriously. In fact, by the time I become a yoga instructor, I practically tip-toed onto the mat—what a grave and holy practice it had become.
Sure, there’s legitimacy in this mind state. Yoga IS holy, yoga IS seriously transformative, and there are some seriously amazing beings in the yoga community. But what I had yet to realize is that all of these things point to one thing: DON’T TAKE YOGA TOO SERIOUSLY!!! Because yoga is not the pose, it’s not the mat, it’s not the studio you attend, or the teacher you love. Yoga is a way of life. Yoga is a way of living your life.
Yoga is a way of living your life.
Pre-yoga, I had a fairly solid identity. I was a hippie writer with a hood rich flair. Unique, definitely different, often labeled weird, but me through and through. Yes, I had a lot of baggage to work through—no more and no less than anyone else—just my own distinct brand. A big part of that baggage was my emotions and learning how to control them.
So when yoga came into the picture and helped ground and balance me out, I plunged head over heels into it like it was my savior.
And while yoga is a turning point, a light at the end of the tunnel, and a game changer for many, yoga does not ask you to worship it.
Gradually, over time, I began to lighten up about my yoga practice. I began exploring more avenues of yoga and what yoga meant to me. I still classified certain teachers and certain principles as somehow better or more enlightened than others. Of course this was placing a label of “right” or “wrong” on things that don’t deserve to be labeled. I still took my teaching way too seriously.
But through a series of lessons and experiences and realizations, I began recognizing that these ‘holier than thou teachers’ (in my eyes) were ordinary people, just as prone to making mistakes as the rest of us. I started accepting that these sacred principles exist everywhere—not just when we’re most quiet and most astute in our yoga practice. I was able to accept that yoga is just…what you make it. My practice was beginning to step off the mat with me.
But I still had a lot to learn.
At this point in my yoga journey, I had essentially put on mute those parts about myself that didn’t seem to ‘fit’ with the yoga lifestyle. That hood rich flair? That had to go. How could I be holy and hood? Nope—couldn’t do it. Those emotional spasms of anxiety, depression and anger? No no no—a yoga teacher cannot be these things! MUTE!
Well, my friends, I am here to tell you now (while acknowledging that I’m the one who most needs telling) that these things do not get swept under a rug. Sure, for a time, you can waste lots of energy hiding them, repressing them, looking the other way… But one day they will emerge again, asking where you’ve been! They’ve missed you, and you haven’t written.
This is when you’ll need every inch of your being to stand up and take charge. This is when you’ll wish you’d embraced every part of you all along, because you now understand that acceptance is the only path to release!!
When those ‘demons’ (who are really just your abandoned, unwanted children) finally do surface, you need strength enough to not only face them, but also face them with love and acceptance because you acknowledge that this is simply part of you who are, while also knowing that ‘who you are’ is fluid, graceful, always-evolving, and infinite. In that moment of realization, you’ll understand that every piece of you is equally as beautiful and as perfect as the rest.
I loved my yoga practice and I loved teaching, but I also yearned for balance. I yearned for the authenticity from which I once operated so fully and unapologetically. How ironic that through my path towards healing (yoga), I actually built more walls between me and that goal! I actually sabotaged myself…against myself (or should I say, my Self).
That was the moment it hit me. I had lost my authenticity, the thing I look for and respect most in others.
It was in that moment that I stopped giving a shit about anything other than my unique practice. Deep sigh! It felt like the first time ever that I could simply relax into my practice. No comparisons, no critiquing, no expectations to live up to. Finally, FINALLY, I was able to practice as a student what I preached as a teacher (bringing full circle the adage of “those who don’t know teach”).
Finally I released all the worry and concern. One day, my soul just opened up, and my yoga—the good the grand and the gutter—all of it just embraced me.
I felt free, I felt empowered, and I felt brand spankin’ new.
My ‘old’ practice felt like wearing an oppressively tight and boring bun on the top of my head. Suddenly, my new practice beckoned to me. Let your hair down! Embrace that Leo energy that’s just waiting—begging—to be released back into the wild. You’ve got this gurrl! Do yo thang, shawty!
Everything is energy: our thoughts, words, and actions all create an energetic wave that ripples out from the creator (you!) into all of creation. Translation: your thoughts become things! You are actively creating your reality by attracting the same energy of thoughts/words/actions that you put out there. So ummm….make it count!
In that moment of figuratively letting my hair down, the Universe started sending me signs of encouragement. I found Buti Yoga. I immediately found that inner voice that had been beaten down for so long. I started rapping in the car again. I blast music when I’m home alone and dance ridiculously around my living room.
These are things that I have always done that somehow, amidst the “expectations” and “limitations” that I placed around my practice, I had forgotten.
Now, here I sit, honoring that inner voice once more, and writing this story as a humble offering to that temporary hiatus. I look back on this experience with acceptance and gratitude. Had it not happened, I wouldn’t have the awareness that I do now.
There’s no need to judge or regret or dwell on the past. Not only does it take us away from the present, but it also lessens the gravity of the present. If it weren’t for these past detours, I wouldn’t so fully appreciate my authenticity now. I wouldn’t so completely celebrate the act of letting my hair down.
So when I step onto the mat these days, I keep my damn hair down. I don’t need anything restricted. To me, it’s a personal sentiment of my inner and outer beauty, and of my complete self-love. No, I’m not perfect, but I don’t need to write a disclaimer explaining that I know that either.
You can love me or hate me, but me is what you’re getting.
I am here to tell you that this is a girl who has regained her strength, her voice, and her authenticity. It has been said that you can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you. Let me tell you—living inauthentically is not a pleasant experience. You’d rather be judged for what you are (who cares!!) than loved for what you’re really not.
When I step onto the mat these days, I keep my damn hair down.
In the end, your yoga accepts you just the way you are. In the end, your yoga is reminding you to do the same for yourself. Because you are worth it. You are beautiful. You are perfect just the way you are. Because you are on the path, you are in the right place, and to change anything would be to change everything leading up to this very moment.
The next time you practice, take charge, embrace your wild side, let your hair down, and shake.it.up.!! Rarrrr!!!
In love and light,