Off the path of food - Yoga

Bikram, it may be your 10th year, but I have no tagline for you

the smell.


I am generally open-minded and try most things once.  In the case of yoga, I realise since moving to Dublin, that I will go to great lengths - walking long distances, researching online, and talking to other yogis; to find and try new Yoga places.  On this one occasion, I was committed to attend hot yoga.  I have been living with a lot of chronic pain for a long time, and find that this is the one of the few things that improves my pain.  Sunday morning, I set out to find a Hot yoga place that has been recommended to me through some friends.  Work called, last minute, and I was running late. - So I hopped in a cab.

Upon arrival, I asked if the class was starting in 10 minutes and no one would address my question.  after waiting for the crowd of the previous class to dissipate, the instructor tells me that there is no class until 11am.  I leave and return, asking to pay for the 11 am class.  Go through the rigmarole of release forms, no i’m not pregnant, have done hot yoga before, yes; and will not hold you or your company responsible for any ill effects from this class.  The teacher explains all the expected behaviour to me; no water in the first two to three poses, do not leave the room, the class is 90 minutes of OPEN-EYE meditation.  Try to get a spot in the back so you can follow others around you. - nice.

I proceed downstairs to change into my shorts.  With each step downstairs, the smell hits me; a little stronger with each step.  In the basement, the men’s toilets are marked but change rooms are somewhat unmarked and a lady points me in the right direction.  I look around the old basement with wooden shelves half unconstructed.   I hang my backpack up with my yoga mat popping out the top, making a mental note to not touch anything on the walls or the floor.  Ok, self pep-talk, I can do this class.

Meanwhile, I am wondering if anyone has noticed the sticky body odour & sweat dripped floor.  It is getting a bit manky.  I don't want to go back down into that fluorescent damp change room so I take my belongings upstairs.

I enter the class with my matt.  The dense humidity hits my face, and the usual heat floods my sensory system.  I recognise this familiar feeling, but a sudden odour comes-on with the humidity.  It’s a dense smell, the smell, of at least a hundred previously sweaty people trapped in a room.  It is overwhelming, I close my eyes and consider leaving; but I’ve paid, I’ve gone to great lengths to do this class - push on. Focus is wavering.  Finding a good spot for my mat, all the while wondering in my mind how many other people in the room are identifying this smell as, 'OFF' - the Pungent, putrid, and plain aged body odour.  Each breath you think you’re olfactory will adapt and the smell will fade, but it doesn’t, it’s just as strong as the last breath.  Mindful now, you think “oh HELLLL no, this is not happening. “ I can’t possibly vomit all over, ok.  Through the mouth, breathe through your mouth.

Stepping on the floor, I realise that it is old carpet - the kind that looks like (astro)turf.  I wonder how often they clean the carpet, or how they dry it out.  The carpet is wet on my feet. I start tip-toeing so as to mentally avoid the smell I think I am taking in through my feet.  This all can be overcome with my active mindfulness, I tell myself. ;)   Anyways, I get through some of class, the standing poses - dancer, tree, etc….  We go to do warrior 2 bent forward knee and teacher has us straddling the mat; feet on the carpet.  You must put your feet on either side of the mat.  Dread.  Next as we move onto the lower poses on the ground, we proceed to cobra (face and belly to the floor).  Oh no! Even closer to the source of ‘mankyness'. I smell the towel - that the teacher has left the class to get for me and insist I use.  well, it’s a bit funky but still ok.  move my nose to the floor and I think it’s a mixture between cheese, toe jam, rain, sweat and wind a lll balled into one.  Think of the stinkiest people you’ve ever met and multiply that by 100.

This, my dear… is a challenge of focus, your mind’s focus: overcoming the feedback that naturally occurs to you.

Everyone around me seems completely un-phased, as if this is the normal smell.

End of class.

As an added bonus, they have exposed foil-wrapped polystyrene between the wooden brackets of unfinished wall.  I am told they are in permanent disrepair and are planning to put in a juice bar.  Let’s just say I won’t be getting any juice there.

-A memory I will not soon forget.


Speaking of awkward yoga:


To make this a little more constructive & positive, here's the link to the lululemon goal-setting sheet.