Samson’s hair symbolized his connection with God. Dennis the Menace had hair as unmanageable as he was. Teenagers have long used their hair to rebel, while others use hair to fit in. The long and the short of it is that hair is not just something shallow that we take care of. It helps us define who we are.

I’ve been platinum blond for several years now. It all began when my husband tried to highlight my hair. Before you decide that I’m foolish, it helps to know him. I call him jack-of-all-trades, master of all. He can do anything and everything well—except highlight my hair.

The next day, he told me delicately that maybe I should go to the salon to get my hair fixed. It had been awhile since I’d had my hair professionally colored so when I walked in and sat down, I went a little nuts. I told my new stylist to “make me platinum.” She did, and I haven’t looked back—until recently.

Lately I’ve been contemplating going back to my lower maintenance—and much darker—roots. To me, this isn’t just some superficial decision to change my hair color—it’s symbolic of a new period in my life.

I’ve been known to do extreme things to my hair during periods of life transition. I’ve had red hair and various shades of blond and brown, as well as long, short and in-between. This most recent metamorphosis in my life—another move and the changes that it brings—has forced me take a deeper looker at my connection with my hair. Such self-discovery is reminiscent of the constant self-observation and reflection that happens on my yoga mat.

Whether we like it or not, we are often defined in society by how we look. Yoga teaches us to be non-judgmental, but we have those other non-yogis—and, sadly, often ourselves—to contend with. Hair is one of the first things that other people see—and one of the first things that we see in the mirror.

As a woman, I’ve also had a long journey with my self-esteem. Yoga was the one thing that truly helped me learn to love myself. For the first time, I saw my body as strong, capable and beautiful. I went from working out mainly just to look good to exercising in order to feel good and get in touch with myself. More importantly, my yoga practice has taught me to appreciate what my body does for me on a daily basis rather than abuse my body in order to fill some arbitrary expectation. So where does my on-going relationship with my hair fit in?

I don’t think it’s shallow or self-absorbed to care about what you look like, and I don’t think it’s necessarily high maintenance to dye your hair. I do, however, think that not acknowledging our personal interests in our appearances is dishonest. Worse, we should want to care about our bodily health and up-keep. Our bodies are, after all, our souls’ homes.

Regardless of how dark I decide to go with my hair on my next visit to my stylist, I’ve set up an internal conversation with myself about what matters in my life. As a mom, managing your time is all-important. As a yogi, well, getting in touch with the deeper me is the entire reason I hop on my mat. While I’m certainly not pretending that my hair color is one of life’s biggest issues, I do believe that it’s helpful to connect with the reasons why we do the things that we do. In the end, what we look like doesn’t equal who we are, but sometimes these little glimpses into our behaviors lead to bigger realizations—whether in the salon or on the mat.

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