Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sweaty Betty!

I am a sweater! Not the kind you put on to keep out the cold but the kind who has to do merely a deep inhalation in a vinyasa class and the beads start to form on my upper lip! Nice! I have always thought how weird it is, how some people sweat and some really don't.
The other week I was in a particularly packed class and I got there later than usual so I had to squish in at the back, next to slightly ripe smelling goatee man and a very tiny Japanese lady who has no spacial awareness! It was quite a hot day, (when isn't it in Florida?) and the class was "yoga for athletes". It wasn't long before we were doing one legged vinyasas and holding revolving half moon pose for 12 breaths!
Have you done revolving half moon? Try it for 12 hundreths of a second! It is one of those killer balances where you have to engage every single muscle in your body and really concentrate hard on your ujaii breath and if you lose focus for one second you are on one hip on the floor with your other leg in the air trying to unravel yourself. (That could just be my experience of it of course!)
I always have a Yogitoes towel on top of my mat for two reasons, to help with slipage and to soak up the sweat! The problem was that much of this particular class seemed to have been designed so that often we were doing warrior 3 at the front of our mats, with our heads hanging above the bare wooden boards and before too long I had a lagoon of sweat on the floor in front of me. How nasty is that?! But what can you do? I didn't want to stop and keep wiping it up, really ruining the class for me and everyone around me so I kept flowing and so did the sweat!  At the end of the practice, the young pony-tailed man from .happyhealthyhuman who is a magnificent hippy in the loveliest way, turned to me and laughed. We were both dripping wet and frantically trying to mop up our pools of sweat on the floor so that nobody on their way out would have a Tom and Jerry moment and fall flat on their ass(ana!). The worst part was that the people walking past us looked fresh as daisies. "How come we look like we have had a shower and they look as glam as when they walked in?" I asked the Healthy Happy Human. He laughed and said in a very wise and yogic sounding way, "Because we are fitter!"
Now I though he was being sweet and trying to make a slightly neurotic, red faced, heavy breathing 30 something feel better about herself, being the type who preaches free love and world peace, love your neighbour and crochet your own granola, but do you know what, it turns out he was right!
Perspiration is how our bodies cool us down. It is sort of our own built in air conditioning system. Sweating is controlled in the hypothalamus and when our core temperature rises it sends a message to our bodies to start to thermoregulate by sweating and the evaporation of the sweat on the skin decreases our surface, or skin temperature. The more efficiently your body is working as a whole the better the cooling effects of the body, ergo, the more we sweat.
I am so happy to learn that I am not some freak of nature, but a finely tuned machine that is working to its maximum potential. 
OK, I am being a bit ambitious!
Lets just say, I am pretty fit and my body is working efficiently which is really great.
Another friend of mine who has been really getting into yoga said to me recently that she felt great but she was concerned that she seemed to sweat more in class. I gave her the good news and she went away with a smug grin and a spring in her very fit and healthy step!
So next time you feel a drip of sweat run down your cleavage (I have one of those now, very exciting!) or off your brow into your eyes, revel in how marvellous your body is at knowing exactly what it needs and allowing you to exercise without the potential of overheating.
Our bodies our wonderfully complex and completely amazing aren't they?

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