Hair a problem in yoga? That’s a bald-faced lie

Bobbie made any number of excellent points in her post earlier this week: Battling a hairy Ashtanga problem.

Now, it is time to speak up for those of us with the opposite problem: Not nearly enough hair.

After tonsure on our first Yatra -- it seems a fitting photo.
After tonsure on our first Yatra — it seems a fitting photo.

I’ll spare you any sob story. I know some follically challenged individuals who seem to really feel like they are an oppressed minority. Last I checked, being bald — or heading that direction — doesn’t end up getting you killed by police, so I can’t agree. (Sorry to slip toward the political there.)

Here’s the crux of Bobbie’s argument:

Hair is part of a collection of logistical issues that come along with the practice, the small details that help things run smoothly, like flat-seam pants that are just the right length and that you don’t have to constantly pull up. Like keeping straps out of the way of your leg, your bind, your shoulder stand. These are fairly serious matters, people. I know yogis who’ve been injured by bad pants or slipping tops. And every time I have to stop the practice to fix something, I lose everything: breath, bandhas, dristhti.

Join me if you will: Wah.

Cry me a river. There are (at least) two far more pressing problems when there ain’t that much hair up there. They are:

  • Sweat in your eyes. Always in your eyes. Take Bobbie’s argument above about having to stop the practice to fix something and insert “wipe the sweat out of your eyes.” All the time, if you’re doing things right. That’ll break the drishti and keep it broken. Unless you go all ’70s with a headband. And who wants to do that?
  • No padding for headstands. I don’t the best way to find out just how much your hair helps in headstands, but it does. (The obvious way is to shave your head. That might be a little extreme.) It’s something between a cushion and a little throne that makes balancing a lot easier.

And a third bonus one: You lose heat through your noggin. We all know that, right? OK, that one’s not actually true, sadly enough. But it feels true. Let’s call it truthy.

And yoga is all about getting to the truthiness of things.

I will admit, there are some benefits. Showering is really quick when one doesn’t have to scrub through yards of hair. There’s no issue with hat hair. (You can get a gnarly sunburn, though.)

But the benefits in this case don’t outweigh the negatives — and I haven’t even listed the ones off the mat.

Posted by Steve


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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

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