My Good Girl comes to the yoga mat because she knows it is the right thing to do—like church and saving money.
She also feels unsteady inside, like maybe she should get on an antidepressant and abandon this yoga sh*t.
But she doesn’t.
When I was little, I was seeped in watery vanilla and understood not to make waves or speak words that might make someone else uncomfortable because it was not pretty like Barbie. I was too young to have breasts and
high heels, but when the day came that I would have these things, Barbie would be my role model .
Desires, disappointments and anger got locked away in diaries with keys so small they could never be found once misplaced. I learned to disguise my real feelings behind Love’s Baby Soft and a mask of compliance.
If I kept the mask on, I was rewarded with love. If I took the mask off—I was punished with rejection.
In the early 80s, at 16, I hated the nice, Good Girl mask. I would take it off and try to be just me, both good and bad and sometimes neither; I felt too vulnerable without any protection. I donned the mask of Bad Girl for a while. Bad Girl was an ass-kicking superhero, too tough to be destroyed though enemies lurked everywhere, especially those that didn’t want to see the Good Girl change.
One night Bad Girl wore a fire truck red jumpsuit with a thick white plastic belt to the rare event of a dinner party my parents were giving. In the kitchen, the chicken and potatoes were just done roasting and my father looked me up and down, perhaps for the first time. He refused to introduce me to his guests seated in the next room with lit candles and white china dishes. With oven mitts in his hands, he told me straight on, “You look inappropriate. Go change.”
I called the boy with the brown van and a painting of a tiger on the van’s back doors. The tiger’s eyes were moon yellow and the beige shag carpet inside stuck to my back and butt when we fooled around. I was hoping not to see him again but I needed somewhere to go in a jumpsuit that was too red, low-cut and clinging. According to my father, I was too much. My cheeks turned the same color as my jumpsuit. Shame burned like chicken juice and fire.
Looking back, I am no longer angry at my father. The red jumpsuit was sexy—over the top. It scared him. When I see photos of myself from that time period, I am intense. My eyes are blackened with mascara and the cultivated pout of my lips belies the intelligence of the girl inside. I remember my intentions when I picked out the red jumpsuit—to stand out and be fierce.
I didn’t want to be vanilla. I wanted to be dark cocoa, crimson, cinnamon, tangerine and bursts of citron.
My Bad Girl ran to the arms of a boy to provide her comfort that night as an act of self-preservation. She was not a victim. She showed up in a time where I desperately wanted to break out of the expectations of society. I wanted to be strong, creative, sexual, smart, silly, mundane, nice, pretty, ugly and vulnerable. I just didn’t know how to put it all together. The Bad Girl was willing to fly, for all of me, even if she hadn’t figured out how to land.
We can reawaken our superheroes and personal archetypes on our yoga mat.
I do believe there is a place for safe and gentle, but I think every yogi needs to experience yoga that is hard and reckless. On the yoga mat, let the Bad Girl come out. Churn. Confront. Sweat. Let cleavage show. Perform sun salutations, planks, wheels and pigeon poses over and over again like an unending prayer. Leave the mat with bones that quiver, skin that glows and eyes that shine. Dedicate your practice to the Bad Girl who begs to be welcomed at the dinner table and the Good Girl who needs to die.
As a grown woman, my coping skills are far more sophisticated. There are no superheroes to guide me. But on my mat, every once in a while, I find my Bad Girl. I fight for her—the part of me that wants to feel the world and not conform. I fight for the one that can jump buildings, save the world and perhaps her own soul, tightly clad in a bright red jumpsuit complete with tits and moon yellow eyes.
Anne has been teaching yoga for fifteen years. She has taught yoga to over thousands of students from all walks of life. In addition to teaching yoga, yoga teacher training and running a yoga studio Anne has published many articles on yoga and it’s ability to help us navigate through our current times. She is currently working on a book that she hopes to release in the near future. She is also passionate about teaching yoga as a vehicle to heal body image and eating disorders. When Anne is not teaching, practicing or writing about yoga she can be found at home hanging out with Matthew while homeschooling her two teenagers and snuggling with her four year old. Find her at www.annefalkowski.com.
Editor: Jessica DeLoy
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