What if Bad Girls Taught Yoga?


One from the elephant journal vaults, from March, 2013

“Only good girls keep diaries. Bad girls don’t have the time.” Tallulah Bankhead

Last week I taught three yoga classes in a row. Four and a half lovely, life-affirming hours on heart openers and non-judgement, all to the hypnotic sitar sounds of Ravi Shankar. And then the weirdest thing happened… By the time I split, all I wanted to do was go home, put on all black, listen to Depeche Mode and smoke a bunch of Marlboro Reds.

I settled instead for Neil Young and some Otter Pops.

To borrow from the American aphorist Mason Cooley, I just wanna stomp on your face, innocence, because you’re lying in my path. What’s my problem, exactly? And path to what? I don’t know, freedom? Lack of rules and responsibilities? Yes, I’m 12, going on… whatever age it is when all this self-involved shit stops being cute. I would say 25 is about the cut off. Then it’s all about wearing sunscreen and watching your cholesterol.

I hate it when people say age is in your mind. Actually, it’s on my driver’s license. I’m just waiting for that number will come to life, slither up, surround me in a choke hold and eventually eat me alive like snake devouring a live rat.

Gerontophobia: The fear of growing old. This unreasonable fear is associated with the fact that someday you will grow old and die. When you can’t accept death, it manifests in feelings of hostility and immature acts of stupidity. It doesn’t matter how much you lie about your age or how many Botox injections you get, you will get old and if you live long enough, and you will end up looking your age.


When I was 12 I had a sticker on my skateboard that read “Don’t Trust Anyone Over 30.” (By the way the guy who said that back in the 60s, Jack Weinberg, is almost 73 years old.) Did I ever see myself as a (*cough*)-year-old hippie yoga teacher? I’m going to have to offer a resounding hell, no.

I wasn’t exactly born with silver mala beads around my neck and an elaborate tattoo of Ganesh on my arm. My mother didn’t regale me with bedtime stories from The Bhagavad Gita. I thought I’d grow up to marry Leif Garret, live in a disgustingly huge, beautiful Spanish-style mansion in the Hollywood Hills and party with The Stones. I ate pretty much a pound of sugar a day (undoubtedly the source of my grandiosity), and a few thousand Twinkies and just as many Diet Cokes later I’m 14 years old, attempting—successfully—to sneak into a showing of The Exorcist at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood. I remember afterward, leaning against the wall outside on the footprints with that “anyone got a match?” attitude, waiting for trouble to come my way. And it did.

I was just getting started. But this isn’t a rant about rebel yelling, or misadventures, or bewailing the past. Waste of time, I always say. When your favorite thing to do back in the day is stay up all night in your friend’s apartment in Haight-Ashbury, listening to White Zombie and getting tattoos from a guy named Paco, you learn about non-regret. That ink is permanent, a part of me, ain’t nothin’ I can do about it. It may have been all over by the early 90s when the grunge look hit the runways, Chanel came out with black nail polish and my nonconformity became somehow validated by the dreaded “man.” Urban Outfitters started selling Sex Pistols t-shirts. Really?

Up until then, being a full-time rule-breaking wanna-be tough chick was kinda time consuming. When do hellcats ever have the time to do dishes, walk the dog, fall in love, go to the gym or get law degrees? And makeup and Victoria’s Secret are expensive, ya’ll. But I never wanted to be the girl next door. Unless I lived in Malibu next to Cher, which wouldn’t suck.

Hey, we’re not all Mary Ann’s. But imagine if The Bad Girl’s Alliance taught yoga…

Bette Paige: “Okay, bitches, grab a trap… oops, I mean strap! Get on all fours and straddle that mat. Lace up your belly muscles. Get fierce, make your Grrr face! Release your inhibitions from the bondage of self!”

Lady GaGa: “I encourage everyone to strip down to your panties and offer the fullest, craziest expression of every pose! Don’t be shy—dance and make out with each other! Where my gay boys at? Do the bus stop! Toot toot, heyyyy, beep beep!”

The Wife of Satan: “For Hellasana, stand up tall, raise your arms and come up on your toes. Keep your arms in the air and start to bend your knees to begin a slow, excruciating descent toward the earth that lasts 1,000 years. Feel the burn… The element associated with this pose is a roaring fire. Picture the color of pain, a deep blood red…”

Okay, it’s not the worst thing to be a little naughty by nature, but we do need some boundaries… Or we might be all doomed to dress and talk like drunk saloon girls our whole lives.

“I’m not bad. I’m just drawn that way.” ~ Jessica Rabbit

I know I’m not alone, and sadly, not even so original. The Buddhists I know in L.A. who look like a motley crew of motorcycle riding, tattoo’d, rockabilly bandits who might steal your wallet and throw bong water in your face are actually a group of incredibly compassionate, mindful people. And I bet their vintage band t-shirts didn’t come from Barney’s New York.

“Be a good girl,” my mom would always say. She thought Buddhism was voodoo, which leads me to believe there are more misconceptions about Eastern religion and the nature of dissatisfaction and delusion than how to solve the Sunday Sudoku. Does that mean we try to be ecstatically happy and perfect human beings every single day? Yesterday I threw away a glass bottle in the non-recycle bin. Today I didn’t even brush my hair. Yup, I’m still 12.

Written by Anne Clendening
Anne Clendening was born and raised in L.A. She's a yoga teacher, a writer and occasionally slings cocktails in a Hollywood bar. She could eat chocolate cake for every meal of the day. She has a huge fear of heights and flying. And fire. She wishes she could speak French, play her guitar better and make cannoli. She's probably listening to The Dark Side Of The Moon right now, kickin’ it with her boxer dog and her hot Australian husband ★