Here is a question asked by a yoga instructor that raises the question about yoga hygiene:
“I have a yoga student that has very bad body odor and it has caused other students to leave. Does anybody have any advice on how I can address without hurting anyone’s feelings?”
Everyone who practices yoga regularly has probably faced this very issue sometime in their life. In a yoga classroom, students and teachers share the space – There are students sitting close to each other on the mats. This is where we need to bring our attention to the yogic philosophies and principles we refer as the 8 limbs of yoga, and that we need to adhere to avoid such problems, and even more to take care of ourselves the way we should for our own health.
Niyama is one of the 8 limbs of yoga (ashtanga; asht=8 and anga=limb) as referred to in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra. One of the 5 Niyamas is “Saucha” (saucha=cleanliness). Let’s go into further depth of this word “saucha” as is applied to yoga in a classroom.
- Before coming to class pay attention to a few things by answering these questions:
– Have you cleaned yourself so that you do not have a body odor that will make others twinge and feel uncomfortable?
– Are you wearing fresh clothes that do not have the body sweat and odor from before? (Even after you shower if you wear clothes drenched in odor, you will emit the odor.)
– If you are someone who emits strong body odor even after you shower, have you used an organic deodorant to prevent the odor?
– If you cooked food with spices and garlic, did you shower and change clothes before you go to class?
– If you wear socks, are they clean before you put them on? (When socks leave the feet, that is when the feet smell.)
– Do you pamper your feet regularly to prevent cracks and keep them clean before you go to class? (In asanas where you have to pick your own feet and legs like the Boat Pose or Elephant’s Trunk Pose or the Archer Pose…, your feet represent you.)
– Is your hair smelling clean, so that others sitting next to you or the teacher coming to help you is not uncomfortable?
– Is the mat you brought in for your use clean?
- When you go to class, do you place your mat in an orderly manner so as not to come in another’s space?
- Before going to your mat space, do you put your belongings neatly in your assigned space and shut off your cell phone so that it does not even make a whirring sound when mute?
- In your hurry to get to the mat space, do you step over other student’s mats? (Be respectful of others and their belongings.)
- After the class is over, do you put away your mat and the accessories used in a proper order as is assigned by the yoga school? (Do it in such a way that a second person does not have to spend further time in correcting your action. This practice not only helps the yoga school but it reflects on one’s personal life as well. It brings in awareness.)
- If you need to leave the class early, are you respectful of others by deciding to place your mat closer to the door? Are you careful to make the minimal sound as you wrap your belongings, go out of the door and then close the door?
We hope these questions have raised even more awareness than before and you are even more mindful than ever before.
Follow the Niyama for Saucha. Follow the hygiene guideliness and you will not be sorry. ~ Umang Goel
We would love to read your comments below. Please remember to share your joy with others.