I Am Not My Hair
The Baptiste Power Flow Immersion in Colorado started a mere 18 days after from my final scheduled chemotherapy treatment for my second battle with uterine cancer. I was still dealing with nausea, digestion issues, and fatigue. And, I was mostly bald—with less hair on my head than a newborn baby. I had grown comfortable with being bald with my yoga community at home. But I would wear my wig or a baseball cap at all other times. Intellectually, I understood that “I am not my hair”and even taught powerful yoga classes on just that theme: “We are not our yoga poses.” However, the thought of being bald around over 400 people, only a small percentage of whom I knew, was causing me serious angst.
At the first asana practice of the program, there I was, with my baseball cap resting on the corner of my mat. Baron asked us, “Why are you here?” One of the first people Baron called on to share was a woman wearing a scarf covering her bald head. I had a peer in the room! I didn’t actually know her, but I knew she and I were fighting a similar battle. I was so grateful to see her there thriving, ready to practice. I don’t believe in coincidences. I found some buried confidence and had a great practice during which I decided I would not put on my wig between sessions as I had planned, but would instead stick with my baseball cap. I was not ready to face the Baptiste world totally bald.
Other non-coincidences occurred as the program unfolded. Amazing war hero and veteran, Dan Nevins, described not only the fear he experienced the first time he removed prosthetic legs in front of others in a yoga class but also the freedom he felt as result. He asked us what we could do to “take off our legs.” I took off my hat, just briefly. That small act was huge to me.
Every practice, my baseball cap stayed at the corner of my yoga mat. I was struggling not only with my baldness but with the “not knowing”of what upcoming medical tests would reveal. After a long hip-opening class, the song “Let It Be”came on during Savasana. I believed that song was meant for me and cried. I felt more ease the next day, but still wore my hat.
The last day, I had just enough courage to leave my baseball cap outside the practice room. In pigeon, someone
whispered in my ear that, immediately following Savasana, I was to walk to the front of the room to tell everyone about my non-profit, Peach Outreach, which raises awareness about uterine and other gynecologic cancers. I panicked because I’d left my cap in my bag. It was all I could think about. The song during Savasana?“Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”I laughed loudly with my feet dancing in the air.
I realized that Being A Yes to something bigger than myself felt so much better than hanging onto fear of being seen without my hair. I stood proudly in front of almost 500 people that I knew were my community and my friends. I chose confidence over fear. I chose to share my non-profit’s mission rather than hide. And I got everyone to fearlessly yell “Uterus!”in the process.
I worked at the Peach Outreach booth at the Contribution Expo that afternoon with my hat tucked away in my bag. I realized fully and freely that I am not my hair.
- Marcy Kurtz
Written with the support of Jessica Kenny.
Jessica Kenny is a writer who teaches yoga or yoga teacher who writes, depending on the day. For a long time she did neither and was not very happy. She is a Certified Baptiste Teacher in San Francisco and contributes articles to many online and print publications. You can keep up with Jess and her ginger self on her website and Instagram.