I sit on my mat, watching my teacher, determined to make this practice just for me. It’s been a busy day, filled with helping others, and I was reminded that I should do something for myself.
She says, “Since we all know each other, let’s introduce ourselves with the name of our alter egos.”
Of course, my alter ego’s name is Bridget. I always thought Bridget was a fearless name. A little bit exotic, a-lot-a-bit adventurous, going places with reckless abandon. She doesn’t hesitate to try new things. Bridget is daring and unapologetic. She doesn’t make the safe choice or play by the rules; she doesn’t fucking care. She just goes and lives.
Our seated meditation starts by cuing up our imagination thinking of how our alter ego wakes up. Where are they? What is the first thing they do?
Bridget wakes up in a canopy bed, draped with heavy red velvet curtains and gold silk drapes. She stretches all curvy and brushes the curly hair away from her eyes. Even her hair doesn’t care as it falls back into her face.
She steps into a sheer dress that falls over her body. Leather straps latch into place around her neck. A leather belt knots around her waist. She goes out to a “good morning” balcony and eats grapes and cheese.
My yoga teacher continues to prompt us.
“Where does your alter ego go next? Who do they meet? Who do they keep company with? How do they greet these people and continue to interact with them? How do their visitors see them?”
Bridget walks around a lavish garden with high green walls. She walks leisurely but with the confidence and strength of a lioness. One can tell that she is relaxed but her body would be capable of a fierce fight in an instant if the environment commanded her to do so. She meets a toddler, squatting by a fountain, examining its depths and then splashing a small, spread-out hand in. When the toddler sees her approaching, she squeals! Bursting into a walk that looks more like a run because of how high the child lifts her knees, the two meet on the same level; Bridget squatting down with arms as open and outstretched as the little one’s are. The pair embrace and share giggles as though a spectacular joke was told to them. Foreheads together, their laughter turns into synchronized breaths. A butterfly comes to greet them, landing on the child’s hand which is on Bridget’s shoulder. For a moment, it looks like the butterfly has matched their breathing as well, its wings floating up and together and then resting in line with their skin.Tiny goosebumps start to appear under the butterfly on the child’s hand, spreading up her forearm. They try their hardest to suppress more giggles but eventually lose control and tumble backwards. The butterfly accepts its cue to fly away to greet something or someone else.
Bridget hugs the child closer, rapidly kissing her little face all over, inducing much more laughter.
My teacher adds a final prompt. “How does your alter ego rest? What do they reflect on? What do they prepare for? What is their intention?”
Bridget rocks up to a seated position, holding the child in her arms. She unlatches the leather strap at her neck to let the top of her dress down. Briefly, the child nurses, watching Bridget’s eyes move around, looking at the grass below them, searching the sky for the butterfly, massaging the tiny toes flexing in her lap. Bridget flexes her own toes, mimicking the child’s movement. The child’s gaze starts to follow Bridget’s and eventually her entire heads follows her own gaze. The little one finds her feet on the grass, and pushes against Bridget’s knees to wobble into a standing position, almost falling back down into Bridget’s lap. As the child walks away with her joyfully high knees, Bridget leans back with her hands behind her, propping herself up. She closes her eyes, listening to the pitter-patter of the child’s feet as she moves from the grass to the sandy-gravel around the fountain, crossing over to the stone patio on the other side of the garden. The sun kisses her chest and she sighs with a closed smile.
As my yoga practice began, I allowed myself to linger and stretch in new curvy ways as I arrived to each pose. In downward dog, I bent my limbs on the same side, stretching the opposite side’s belly. I enjoyed squatting with my sit-bones on top of my heels. Imagining the feeling of a lioness, of a care-free bare chest, my head rose up and my rib cage followed.
Practicing yoga with my alter ego gave me permission to move in ways I wouldn’t have been open to discovering by myself. I was able to experience a more stretched out yoga practice rather than a tense, holding extensively, work out.
I wonder if my alter ego will be different the next time I practice this way? I wonder why Bridget did not have a particular time period in her setting? I wonder how practicing in a different time period would offer me new ways of moving on and off my mat?
Bridget, what a good practice you gave me. Namaste.