I’m a few minutes into a Bikram-style hot yoga class. I can feel the sweat start to bead on my forehead. We come into mountain pose and I reflexively reach my hand to my forehead and wipe away the sweat.
Almost immediately, Mary, the instructor, says, “Let the sweat drip.”
She went on: “Don’t wipe your forehead. Don’t adjust your clothes. Just be in the moment. If you want to wipe away sweat, ask yourself if that’s a want or a need.”
In a yoga class I’m continually adjusting my clothes and my body — pulling down a tank top that’s ridden up, moving back into place a strap that fell down my shoulder, sweeping hair off my forehead. If I feel warm, my instinct is to get the sweat off my face. Mary made me think about why I’m doing that. Am I concerned with how I look? Am I uncomfortable? Is it really necessary to be comfortable in a yoga class? In life?
It was hard for me to let the sweat drip. I’m not used to that. It’s not part of my routine. It’s a new way of thinking.
But as class went on, I saw it as a way to relinquish control. Here’s something that was happening in my body that was entirely natural. Sure, it feels a little uncomfortable, both physically and mentally. In our society, a perfectly polished, made-up face is valued more than a sweaty face.
But by the end of class, what had happened? I saw how the sweat was necessary for my body. In God’s glorious wisdom, he gave our bodies ways to regulate our temperature and keep us safe. And when I looked in the mirror and saw the sheen on my face, I felt radiant. I felt healthy and confident, more so than I had for several weeks.
“Let the sweat drip.” How applicable to many parts of my life, inside and outside of the yoga studio.
Immense gratitude and a heart full of thanks to Mary Margaret Anderson Fay who led the hot class during a yoga teacher training weekend at Sun Moon Yoga Studios. Mary owns Yoga Studio in Plymouth, Minnesota.