Wella Oil Reflections Smoothening Treatment

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After a long time, I made an impulse purchase and that also a non-natural one- Wella Oil Reflections Smoothening Treatment. (By the way, is there even a word “non-natural”? )As I walked past a Wella Salon (Strands– a chain of salons in the Chandigarh-Panchkula region), I saw huge hoardings of this new launch in India from Wella. Intrigued, or perhaps fatigued by the heat, I walked in and for some unfathomable reason, picked it up. My earlier hair serum, Kerastase Nutritive Serum Oleo Relax had finished a while ago and the other one, Kerastase Elixir Ultime I use only before any heat based styling. And so I reasoned to myself as I spent Rs 850/- on a 100ml bottle. Besides, I’m a sucker for fragrances and this one has a lovely, delicate, sweet fragrance to it.

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While most impulse purchases leave you to repent at them later at leisure, thankfully this one did not. The Wella site (http://www.wella.com/professional/en-EN/product/care/oil-reflections) describes it as-

This multi-sensorial oil, with macadamia seed oil, avocado oil and vitamin E, known as a natural anti-oxidant, instantly reveals the beautiful, natural reflections of hair color with a very lightweight technology that makes hair feel incredibly light and supple. High, glossy reflections: specifically designed to enhance the shine of Wella Professionals Colour, making it up to 86% more reflective. Wella Professionals Oil Reflections can be used in a number of different ways:

 

Conditioning — apply a few drops of oil onto damp hair for an instant, lightweight smoothening effect.

Styling — apply a few drops of oil to wet hair before you dry* for additional protection.

Finishing — apply after styling to give hair extra shine, and to intensify colour reflection

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First things first, this is not an “oil” at least the way I understand the term or the way we do in India. Most hair oils today are non greasy and light but this should not be confused with any traditional hair oil (Read here for my favourite hair oils). At best, this can be thought of an oil like Kerastase Elixir Ultime. But please don’t seek to replace your good old coconut/mustard/bhringraj or any such hair oil with this. I see it as a hair serum and so should you. If you are looking for benefits like hair growth, arresting hair fall, this is not meant for that.

Secondly, I do not have coloured hair. Instead, I use my favourite LUSH Caca Noir and TVAM Indigo. It says that it is designed enhance the shine of coloured hair, but it has been performing wonderfully on my hennaed hair as well.

DSC09034I have used it both as an after wash treatment on damp hair and on dry hair to control the dryness and frizz and have been very pleased on both occasions. For my almost waist length hair, I need 2-3 pumps. It is not heavy at all, the texture being more like Kerastase Elixir Ultime and a bit heavier than Kerastase Oleo Relax Serum. Yet it does not weigh the hair down at all. In fact, it is very light and I have used it not only along the length of the hair but also near the crown to control frizz. It imparts a nice shine to the hair– obviously not like a 1000 watt bulb or something but a distinct, healthy shine. This weather made my already dry hair more so and this has effectively controlled it. The smell is lovely and although it doesn’t stay on for long, this is the only hair serum I have come across that has any fragrance to it.  DSC09062

On the flip side, as far as ingredients go, it has Macademia seed oil, avocado oil and Vitamin E but also, like all hair serums, a host of chemicals. Those of you who completely stay away from all chemicals will not be very happy with it. Secondly, while the website says that it can be used prior to drying for additional protection, I’m not sure if it is indeed a heat protecting serum or not. Also the heavy glass bottle however is not very travel friendly and I am quite worried about dropping and breaking it.

Over all I am very pleased with my impulse purchase. Although I don’t use chemical products, after this I’m more inclined to try Wella products whenever I plan to pick up something. At Rs 850/- for a 100 ml bottle it is way cheaper than Kerastase.

Yoga or bhoga?

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Not too long ago I had a silent falling out with my then yoga teacher, and as all such things go, this too was rather unfortunate. What made it all the more unfortunate was that it was not just any friend, acquaintance, or personal trainer at a fitness centre but a yoga teacher. Not that I was going to her to seek any spiritual guidance or answers to life’s mysteries- all that I was going to her was to learn the physical asanas in a calm, peaceful environment- asanas as an attempt towards an inner journey of the self. Isn’t that what yoga is supposed to be all about? A union of the physical body with the subtle inner consciousness, an attempt at disciplining the body and through it, the mind ? Since I hold yoga in high esteem, it goes without saying that I hold the teachers too in similar regard, even though this one was younger to me and despite my asking her not to, continued to address me as “ma’am”- perhaps a hangover of her days as personal trainer in a gym.

The facts of what went wrong are not important. The way we, the student and teacher, were shaping up, with our very different priorities and expectations from yoga, this was bound to happen. However, what it did stir in me was a churning of sorts when I started pondering over what yoga in today’s world of instant gratifications is all about. Does doing yoga require one to give up a life of worldly pleasure- a life of outings, drinks, casual flings perhaps, big brand names and the likes? Does wearing a rosary around the neck, having religious tattoos on the body or a “holier than thou” attitude mean you are more spiritually evolved and more sincere in your yoga practice than your neighbour on a swanky Manduka mat and lululemon pants? And what about yoga teachers? What do we expect of them? To be veritable saints?

I think I am quite liberal with my moral attitudes and judgements, believing sincerely in the dictum “To each his own”. When it comes to the practice of yoga, I do understand and appreciate that people come to yoga for a variety of reasons, most of which have nothing to do with any inner growth- losing weight, curing an ailment, finding some quiet ‘me time’. Honestly, I myself turned to yoga because of my disc prolapse but simply fell in love with the way it made me breathe, made me feel and calmed my mind. That I was blessed enough to start out with a great teacher (Wherever you are, you are fine) merely made my love for yoga deeper.

The problem with today’s yoga culture for me is not that not many are interested in the deeper aspects of it, but that yoga today seems to have become a garb for a hidden agenda of “bhoga” (life of sensual enjoyments). A life devoted to the senses too is fine, is great in fact; just that the name of yoga should not be sullied in the process. Are yoga teachers (or even students for that matter) expected to be celibate teetotallers, living a life of deprivation and solitude ? No way, unless, of course, it’s their choice to do so for some higher pursuit. But what one does expect to find in yoga teachers is a sincere commitment to the practice especially when they have learnt the practice from an ancient, austere tradition and not some garbled modern day rendition of the same (say something like hot yoga). What the teachers or students do in their private life and private time is entirely their decision. But when they step on to the mat and start the practice with an invocation to the Divine (poor Patanjali being invoked more often than he would like I think, especially given the scenarios in which the prayer is recited), they owe it to the great tradition of yoga to be sincere. Bring with you compassion, selflessness, humility, love, a crackling sense of humour and a love of life – a true joie de vivre mind you, not hedonism, or, to quote T S Eliot,  remnants of “restless nights in one-night cheap hotels”. And as you go “Off the Mat, Into the World” (my favourite yoga teacher Seane Corne’s movement), carry these with you instead of a bloated ego, huge judgements, preconceived and misplaced ideas of right and wrong.

Yes, it is all very well to have a super flexible body and be able to fly into a handstand but more important than a flexible body is a flexible mind- a mind that is open to learning, to growth, to acknowledging mistakes and learning from them and a mind that recognises the need to control the “monkey mind” rather than give into its tantrums. What I seek from the practice of yoga ( incidentally, that it is always called practice should tell one a lot about the inherent intent of the discipline)? Let me quote Seane Corne-

“Twenty-four years of practicing yoga has taught me that God is truth and love and exists in every moment, both dark and light. This essence is in each experience and in all beings equally. Yoga has taught me that you are in a conscious body to learn what love is, not romantic love, although that may be part of your learning, but God-love, which is inclusive and infinite….. Yoga teaches you that everything that happens to you in this life happens perfectly and synergistically in order for the soul to transform and understand this level of God-love. Everyone has karma to burn, lessons to learn, and each one of you will walk some challenging and funky paths at times, but these moments will also be the divine catalysts providing great insight, healing and wisdom.” (http://www.oprah.com/spirit/What-Yoga-Means-to-Me-Seane-Corn)

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I know it’s a tall order that I seek- way beyond the understanding of most yoga teachers and students alike. Yoga, in essence, is an inner journey and like all such journeys, a lonely one. And when I find my this inner journey hampered by bhoga in the guise of yoga, I bow my head in thanks and walk away- Not my circus. Not my monkeys. And as I walk away, I thank and wish well to all my teachers in all disguises for I have learnt more than they could teach.

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Not my circus. Not my monkeys.

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I recently read this proverb on the Fb page of Elizabeth Gilbert and although I have heard this saying before and often pondered over it, coming from her, it made me sit back and think about it all over again. This is what she says-

“Not my circus, not my monkeys” — a beautiful and witty way to say, “Those problems simply do not belong to me.”

(I also love imagining the context in which you would say this — watching a completely deranged monkey disrupt a completely disorderly circus…all the while, you just sit there calmly eating your cotton candy…)

So let it go, dear ones. Walk away.

We all have plenty to take care of, as it is, managing our own circus, our own monkeys…”

No matter what the detractors say, but whenever I pick up Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love”, it always makes sense to me, helps me find my feet in troubled times, strangely becoming synonymous with my own quests- quest for balance, for peace … for life. (Read more about it here) Coming from the author of one of my favourite works, I had to give this saying more than a fleeting thought.

Life itself is nothing if not a circus, and surrounded as we all are by monkeys of all shapes and sizes, some real and some of our own imagination, choosing one’s monkeys and the circus seems like a good idea. The only problem, as I see it, is not simply choosing your circus, but more importantly, realising that you are in a circus to begin with. Most of us get so accustomed to the rigmarole of life with its tin pot tragedies and comedies, that we are simply unable to step back from the situation and see it for what it really is- a circus. In fact this circus becomes synonymous with life- be it the politics of workplace, of the extended Indian family or of the humble kitty party, a back stabbing friend, quarrel with the spouse, disagreement with children- all this constitutes life for most of us. The ability to see this as mere externals and not allowing them to take over one’s sensibilities is indeed a tough call, requiring greater inner awareness and growth than most of us are capable of.

Yet, there comes a time when one’s peace matters more than anything else; when this so called life of ours, with all its trivial pursuits and disagreements really doesn’t seem worth sapping oneself of all energy- physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and psychological. And that, my dear friends, is the point when one needs to walk away. Yes, it is difficult to walk away from life in totality. A wise friend once told me to choose my battles- to pick and choose what things, if any, were worth fighting for, worth getting upset over, worth brooding over, worth losing your night’s sleep over. What one can set right, please do. As for the rest? Just let go.

The desire to become the ringmaster, to bring some sort of semblance of order to all pervasive chaos, is indeed compelling. Whether it is motivated by a desire to prove your point, to show that you were right after all or by any noble (or base) motive is immaterial. What matters is the price you pay for it- your own sanity. And that isn’t worth sacrificing at any cost. So choose your battles, choose your circus and choose your monkeys very wisely. Most of all, choose to tame the monkey mind that is the seat of all chaos. As for the rest- let it go; walk away.

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