October 6, 2012

Can You Mix Bleach & Bandhas? ~ Nickie Medici

The Yoga of Beauty

I work at a salon. I have a cosmetology license and with that, I color, foil and perm hair all day long. I have no qualms with covering grey hairs on my head or anyone else’s and I certainly advocate a new hair cut if a client is feeling frumpy.

I also hold a 200 hour yoga teaching certification and I hold the philosophy and spirituality of yoga as near to my heart as I do any of the poses. I can see how for some people this runs contrary to the beauty industry, or how the beauty industry runs contrary to yogic philosophy.

The chemical free inner-beauty lecture is one I’ve heard many times before, but I believe these two worlds (yoga and beauty) can exist as one, despite what many people may think.

Today when I go in to teach my 3:30 open level yoga class, one of my clients notices that my hair is a slightly different color. I launch into my tale of toil and triumph. You see, it took three and a half hours to change my hair color. The end result is my natural brown hair color, which I promptly covered with a different shade of brown to cover any rogue silver strands left behind from my last color. Because I was in such a mood, I put some fresh purple polish on my toes, which leaves me feeling good from the inside out.

I think about those old yoga texts that are still relevant and important, but the truth is that they were not meant for women to practice from. It is only recently that women came onto the yoga scene—and then promptly took it over.

For all intents and purposes we are a lawless bunch.

Then we went and made up a whole bunch of laws for ourselves.

I grew up with a make-up maven for a mother. I talked her into letting me get my first perm when I was eight (this was the ’80s, you know, and I wanted to be so cool). Being in a salon was my favorite place. I loved the smell and the ladies all talking and reading magazines and those stylists who seemed to know everything!

Today, I enjoy cosmetics and I still love the smell of the salon. I like the chemical combustion of peroxide and powered bleach mingling with the scent of freshly brewed coffee in the morning. I get a warm fuzzy feeling in my chest when I find a new lipstick that really brings out my eyes.

To decide that I want to practice yoga and then proceed to excise these fond memories and enjoyments would be counter-productive. I know yoga practitioners who like to be natural, wearing their natural hair color without apology—and I admire their sincerity. Some use crystal deodorant and baking soda for toothpaste.

This alone does not a good yoga student make. Yoga practice isn’t meant to cut you off from yourself or divorce you from the many facets of your being.

Yoga is a practice of union. How we see ourselves on the outside reflects how we see ourselves on the inside. The reverse is also true, but sometimes the “outside” appearance is where we begin building confidence in ourselves, in life and in practice. If I were to white knuckle it and go natural with my toes or hair I’d still be the same person—I’d just feel a little frumpy.

You can take frumpy to the mat with everything else that you practice for, but why make life and practice harder? Why abide by laws that we have written for ourselves? It doesn’t say anywhere that beauty and yoga don’t go together—just ask Lakshmi.

My Uttanasana (standing forward fold) would be just as good—or flawed—without polish on my toes, but they’re not nearly as nice to look at while I’m hanging over my legs.

The Yoga Sutras do have something to say about right livelihood.  Doing hair for a living is a trade in which I get to give my attention to one person at a time. It’s my hope to make their day better and to help them feel better about themselves by polishing some of their innate beauty.

Dear Reader, do you see how this would differ from the art of teaching yoga? Or, might beautifying the outside be a reflection of shining the light on the beauty within?


Nickie found the path to yoga teaching by way of Laura Tyree’s Dragonfly Yoga Studies training program in Fort Walton beach, Florida.  She currently leads four classes a week and attends group classes with Nancy LaNasa at The Abhaya Yoga Center in historic downtown Pensacola, Florida.  Nickie works with the public in several venues and balances work in the salon and leading yoga classes with quiet time with the cats.  Though somewhat a jack of all trades, writing and yoga are still her favorite things to do – to enjoy more of her writing please visit IcyExhale.com.


Editor: Edith Lazenby

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