Braiding it Together
I finished reading the last 2 books in the Hunger Games trilogy while I was in Italy teaching. I couldn’t put them down! I asked my husband to bring the 2nd 50 Shades of Grey book (since I had read the first already) with him when I met him in Switzerland for our hiking trip. I figured it might be a good light reading choice after the Hunger Games. After finishing it the first half of our trip, I felt I needed a bit more serious read and opted for Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder which I picked up on our trip in to Bern. I finished it on the plane home back to NYC. If you can’t tell, I am a voracious reader and absolutely love to get swept away in a good book. If you have any good recommendations for me, please send them my way!
What I find so interesting about all of the books I mentioned above, is the reference to hair and braiding in each and every one of them. Katniss, often talks about putting her hair back in her signature braid, Christian Grey erotically braids Anastasia’s hair before their kinky erotic love making sessions; and Marina has her hair braided by the Lakashi women in the Brazilian Rio Negro.
One definition of a braid as a verb is “to interweave three or more strands of (hair, straw, etc.) to make by such interweaving”. In yoga we interweave our breath, our body and our mind to feel more connected, integrated and whole. A braid can also be defined as a noun: “a band, ribbon, etc., for binding or confining the hair.” When we braid together pieces of ourselves in asana (physical yoga postures) we are in a sense binding ourselves together or tying ourselves up in to a knot so we can fit ourself and feel confined or safe in our own body.
I was pretty blown away this past Thursday, I took yoga class with my all time favorite teacher and mentor, Nevine Michaan, and she had us braiding our sun salutations! We started in a cross-foot downward-facing dog then stepped the back foot forward in to a lunge before stepping it back so it’s on top of the opposite foot in the crossed foot dog. We kept stepping the back foot forward from behind to continue lunging and crossing over in downward dog, creating a braiding motion with our movements. The sun salutation became more and more complex with the cross over’s in upward dog as well and standing forward bends etc. I will work on getting a video made of her awesome flow and sharing it with you.
I wonder if it’s some sort of universal message about communication and the importance of fully enveloping and embracing things. From post apocalyptic novels, to chic lit porn, to contemporary adventure; braiding, connecting, tying things together, is important in ourself and with others. In a day and age where we can easily hide behind our computer screens and mobile devices, it’s crucial for us to find ways to intertwine and braid our lives with significance and meaning. It’s also downright beautiful to see a gorgeous braid in someone’s hair and watch the skillful hands creating the masterpiece; or to watch Nevine make effortless effort as she weaves her way through her imaginative flow.
Kristin McGee is a celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor in New York City. She is currently teaching yoga with Peloton. She is the star of over 100 videos, seen in several magazines and tv shows and is a spokeswoman for many brands and causes she believes in. A proud mom to three, she sure keeps herself busy!