I fell for yoga many years ago. It started with a hot & stuffy room and the practice of Bikram yoga. As with many my infatuation with that form of yoga was fast and furious. I even engaged in a thirty day challenge at one time, literally taking thirty classes in thirty days. It was grueling but I was invigorated.
While I practiced Bikram yoga for many year, my interest in yoga eventually turned toward meditation and other types of haha yoga. Last year I decided to turn my hobby into something I can legitimately share with the world. I'm now studying to become a certified/registered yoga teacher.
For the next six months, I'll be part of an extensive training program at a black owned studio in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. And this yogic journey includes the study of moral restraint, personal observances, physical practice, breath control, mindfulness, concentration, meditation, union with God.
I'm looking forward to sharing my journey here on the blog.
My favorite attributes about natural hair are that it's wild, free, and unique! Like the rest of your body, it tells you what it needs and responds best when you give it what it needs. I've said this before in real life and on the blog, with natural hair you must develop an appreciation for being imperfectly perfect. With no longer having relaxed hair, gone are the days when your hair responds consistently and lays the same way. I still take my scarf off in the morning but my hair doesn't gently acquiesce by falling neatly down around my shoulders. She wants to be touched and massaged into into her shape for the day. She wants moisture and hydration. She wants love.
I've been perm free for five years now and this was my second time going natural. The first time was in 2002 and it was much more challenging as there were far fewer products geared toward kinky perm free hair and the onslaught of YouTube bloggers had yet to revolutionize the Internet educating those of us who hadn't seen our natural textures since childhood.
I'm no hair care expert nor do I play one on tv, but I can say that getting to know and managing my natural hair has been a labor of love, growth, acceptance, change, and occasional times of frustration. So rather than posit my way as THE way...I'll simply share some of the things I've learned and what works for me. As products go, there's always the "next best thing" out there so this post is more about perspective and to a far lesser extent about products.
Accepting your hair comes with accepting that no two hair days will be the same and that's ok! Find a kick-ass detangling conditioner and determine whether you'll use it as both a shampoo AND conditioner. I usually wash my hair with conditioner but every so often I use a sulfate-free shampoo to remove the gunk from my scalp. Find a good leave-in conditioner, a good oil or cream, and a hair gel that won't flake or leave residue in your hair.
Prep, Wash, & Style
To prep my hair for washing, I divide it in two, spritz it with water and generously apply coconut oil. Then I twist my hair into two buns, put a plastic cap over it, and let that marinate for 15 minutes.
My wash routine is simple and takes between 30 and 45 minutes total. In warm months I wash my hair weekly and when it's cold I wash it every two weeks. In the shower I let the warm water, heat and coconut oil do their magic of loosening my tangles. I further divide into four sections, wash my scalp with shampoo (when necessary) and my strands with conditioner, detangle with a wide tooth comb, rinse and twist into four big twists. On a side note...I keep my hair shears with me when I wash in case I encounter knots. YES I cut them out when I do. Upon exciting the shower, I put and old soft cotton t-shirt on my hair to soak up the excess water.
My go to style is a braid-out. I apply my leave-in conditioner, my homemade whipped shea butter cream, and hair gel to the section of hair I plan to braid, distributing it with my palms from root to tip. I then brush my from tip to root with my Denman brush and start braiding. A half inch from the ends, I stop braiding and start twisting. When done, I have four braids in the back of my head and three on each side in the front for a total of ten braids.
Once dry...I undue the braids, separate them and fluff my hair with a pick. I also apply some oil. My first day hair is ok, but for me the magic happens day two and beyond. On the first night, I re-braid in larger sections and sleep with a scarf to stretch my hair. After that I alternate between two pony tails (one on either side of my head) or pineappling (pulling my hair up on top of my head and wrapping my scarf Aunt Jemima style.
I spritz my hair with lavendar water every other morning after taking my hair down and shaking it into place. The hydration helps my hair retain moisture, keeps it soft, and helps it grow. I believe in the power of watering my hair.
As I've said, no two hair days are the same. Natural hair is truly an adventure! If you're on this journey, be encouraged that you will figure out what works for you and your hair.
Pictures included were taken between 2/2014 and 10/2015