Hot yoga and running are alike in so many ways. They can make you feel like you’re dying. They make you leak sweat like a faulty garden hose. They cause you to seriously reconsider the Mexican food you had for dinner the night before. And when you’re smack in the middle of doing them, it can take all of your will not to puke on yourself.
The way you feel at the end is always worth it. But this isn’t one of those inspirational posts. This is really just about how, a few minutes into my Bikram yoga class this morning, I had to mind-over-matter it hard core when I realized that someone around me smelled like fried onions and garlic.
You guys know what I’m talking about. You get a whiff of it when you’re sitting next to a stranger on the bus or when someone’s standing too close to you in the grocery store check-out line. It’s not the fresh, savory bouquet that wafts out from the kitchen when you’re visiting your favorite Italian restaurant. It’s the stale odor that you first smelled lingering in your elderly Aunt Trudy’s curtains and upholstery. It’s a smell that has notes of body odor and airless rooms. It’s a smell of good stuff gone wrong. I’m so sensitive to it that I make a point of keeping the windows in our very small apartment wide open and the fans going while I’m cooking.
Anyway, that’s what was making its way into my nostrils at approximately 6:25 this morning, as I was trying to get into standing-head-to-knee pose. Keep in mind that Bikram yoga is practiced in a room that’s heated to a humid 105 degrees Farenheit and filled with people—if something stinks, it has to compete with about 300 other foul smells for dominance. This one had eaten its Wheaties.
I know that one of yoga’s biggest tenets is to just accept what is—especially if it’s annoying—and persevere without letting it affect you. Let’s just say that this morning, I wasn’t the best yogi I could be. As we moved through the sequence of poses, I furtively tried to sniff my hair, my hands, my clothing. Nothing. Sure that I was in the clear, I darted quick glances around the room at my classmates, trying to narrow down who the culprit might be.
I was fairly certain the stinker was the chick a row ahead of me with all of her hair gathered in a tight topknot. I mentally focused my disgust on her. By the time we finished the standing poses, I was having a hard time. I was tired. I was a little dehydrated. And this smell was killing me. No one else seemed bothered, but I was unable to concentrate on anything other than not wretching. Some enlightenment, eh?
Then we moved to the floor, where I realized the terrible truth: THE STINKER WAS ME. My towel, which I’d brought from home to cover my mat, smelled like someone’s grandma’s housecoat. And in a sickening flash I realized that the towel had been hanging up to dry in our bathroom—our windowless bathroom!—when I was making vegetarian mole over the weekend. I was mortified. It was like that old horror story when the heroine realizes that the threatening calls are coming from inside the house!
The second half of a Bikram class is spent on the floor, much of it with your belly to the mat. That means I repeatedly had to face-plant myself into the very odor I’d angrily pinned on my fellow yoga-goers moments before. For about 45 minutes.
Did I mention it was really humid?
And that, friends, is karma.