Saucha: Happy sweating!

Have you ever been to a yoga class, been deep into the zone only to be brought out by the smell of something rancid? Your first thought is, “What is that smell?”. Your second thought is, “Is it me?”. Your third is based on fear, “Please don’t let that be me” or perhaps denial “the person beside me stinks!”. You smell your mat, your towel and then your clothes only to realize that it really is you which leads you to your last thought, “I hope no one can smell me!” Clearly now the yoga zone that you have worked so hard to cultivate has been lost only to be replaced by the inner dialogue of shoulda, woulda, couldas.
Oh what an opportunity to practice saucha. The first niyamas of Patanjali’s eight limb path, saucha translates to cleanliness or purity. We can practice saucha through our thoughts or more concretely through the practice of washing our clothes, yoga mats, towels, and bodies. If that fails to relieve the stench, we can practice aparigraha (non-attachment) by throwing out the funkiness because let’s face it, if we can smell it, there’s a pretty good chance the people us beside can too.

Here are a few tips to keep the unpleasant smell at bay.

  • Wash your yoga towel and clothes after EVERY class. Seems obvious but how many times have you rolled up your towel in your mat only to reuse it the next time you come to class. Yes, we CAN smell it.
  • Hang up your yoga clothes and towels as soon as you get home. Nothing breeds a putrefied smell or grows bacteria like leaving your things waded up in your trunk, bag, or clothes hamper.
  • Avoid using fabric softener which actually creates a barrier to hold the stinky smell in.
  • Use half the amount of laundry detergent. Laundry detergent and Lyrca and Spandex don’t do well together. It builds up on clothing, leading to more smells and bacteria.
  • Soak your clothes with 1 cup of white vinegar in the sink or tub with cold water. It’s a miracle ingredient that gets rid of odors which can be added to your wash too.
  • Clean your mat after practice, especially a hot class. Most studios have mat cleaner in the studio that you can use. If it’s a Lululemon The Mat, remember not to use any oil to clean it as it breaks down the stickiness. Use water instead.
  • When all else fails, practice aparigraha and replace clothes, towels and your yoga mat.

Remember, practicing sauca benefits not only you but all those around you. Happy sweating!