Things I Never Expected from Yoga – No.2…

Sweat Neurosis

There was an ad I saw on London Underground years ago for a women’s anti-perspirant with the caption:

”Women don’t sweat, they glow…  I glow buckets”. 

For anyone who may have seen the spoof disaster movie, ‘Airplane’ the easiest way I can describe it is that it’s like Ted Striker – the ex-pilot with a fear of flying who has to land the plane.  While at the controls, the beads of sweat formed on Ted’s brow rapidly escalate to the point where we see him literally dripping with sweat, as though he’s had several buckets of it thrown over him…

That pretty much sums me up during a Hot Yoga class. 

I sweat in Astanga and Jivamukti too, but in any given hot class, the sweat is of epic proportions.  And as much as I hate to admit it, some days this really distresses me.

Now, of course with any form of hot yoga sweat is a given.  How can it not be when you’re practicing in 40 degree heat?  But I assumed that the more I practiced the less profusely I’d sweat during class.  However, it turns out the opposite is true. Why?!

Most days I don’t even need to have started doing any postures for the sweat to appear.  I find that if I’m doing a hot class, no sooner have I’ve stepped into the room to get a mat than I catch my face in the mirror and find it staring back at me, all brown and shiny like a Werther’s Original.  I’m no Halle Berry, but I’ve looked better.

Oddly, I don’t bat an eyelid at other people’s sweat.  I won’t remotely freak if a bit of sweat from the person on the next mat flicks onto me (which reminds me of a story a Bikram teacher once told in class about hearing that after teaching Lady Gaga, her teacher was such a fan that he rolled around in her sweat after she’d gone.  I wouldn’t exactly go that far…).  Yet, I am horrified by my own sweat.  I worry about a teacher touching me to adjust any of my postures – what must they think?!  I just don’t want to inflict my sweat on anyone else.

I don’t understand where this severe case of sweat neurosis comes from.  Is this a common condition, or is it just me?

I’ve got to the stage where I sort of accept it, but on bad days it gets me extremely paranoid.  I get incredibly wound up that no-one else in the room could possibly be sweating as much as I am (and the puddle I find under my non-slip towel at the end of any particularly challenging hot class does little to persuade me otherwise…). 

I know wouldn’t judge anyone else about something like this, yet I judge myself so harshly.   I wonder if this is part of a wider issue I have with acceptance – accepting where I am at the moment.  Or it could just be that I’m a slightly strange woman.

Maybe one day I will learn to truly embrace the sweat…

Or at least, start sweating a bit less.


  1. […] later tells a story that speaks to my ‘sweat neurosis’.  It’s about some Americans practicing yoga in India who ask their teacher what they should do […]

  2. […] times, including during class, there are tears.  But one bonus of crying in a Hot Yoga class is I sweat so much that I guess no-one’s going to notice apart from […]

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