I have avoided attending a yoga class for a very long time because of my hyperhidrosis (HH). I worry about sweating all over the yoga mat and leaving puddles on the floor. I also worry about doing positions like downward dog and sliding out of them since my hands are sweaty and have no traction. I’ve done yoga videos by myself in the comfort of my own home, but I got bored with them and stopped doing it. However, there is free yoga in the park offered during the summer where I live. Two weeks ago, I forced myself to do it and gave my hyperhidrosis the middle finger. I’m tired of being held back by my excessive sweating disorder.
I went to the store and bought a yoga mat, and in the same section of the store I found some yoga socks. They are cut to wrap around each toe, just like gloves are cut to fit around each finger. The bottoms of the socks have sticky, grippy, rubbery material on them to stick to the yoga mat. With these two items, I felt better prepared to face my fear of exercising in public doing an activity that most people do barefoot. Several weeks prior to this, I also found a pair of capri-length exercise pants made by Jockey. They are sweat-friendly, too. They come down past my knees, so when I bend my knees I don’t feel my wet skin touching itself and making me more uncomfortable. They are black, so they hide sweat better, and they have a different groin design that helps with airflow, too.
The yoga class is from 8:15-9:15 in the morning, which is good because that is before it gets too hot. I wore my yoga socks to the park with my new mesh tennis shoes I told you about. I didn’t want to deal with trying to put the yoga socks on at the park, because that’s so much harder than putting them on when my feet are dry. I got there on time and set up my mat on the grass in the back row of people, that way no one would see my butt during all the crazy poses. If I were several pounds lighter, I probably wouldn’t care as much. I also brought a bath towel with me, so I placed that over the mat for extra absorption.
I tried not to think about my sweating as I sat cross-legged on my mat, waiting for the instructor to start. The park where the class is offered is really pretty. The grass was in great shape, there are water features and fountains that give off great sounds, and there was a gentle breeze blowing the entire time I was there. I noticed my feet were feeling kind of hot in my fancy yoga socks, so I decided to be daring. I took them off! I felt instantly cooler when I did, despite the fact that my glistening was now on display.
Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Your pain, your anxiety, is your baby. You have to take care of it. You have to go back to yourself, recognize the suffering in you, embrace the suffering, and you get a relief. And if you continue your practice of mindfulness and concentration, you understand the roots, the nature of that ill-being, and you know the way to transform it.”
So that’s what I tried to do. My anxiety, my pain over having hyperhidrosis, is not an anxiety disorder. I am not getting myself worked up over a little thing. I am not sweating because I am nervous. I am nervous because I am sweating. There is a difference, and many people do not understand this. I closed my eyes, focused on my breathing, and let the instructor’s voice mingle with the running water next to me as she instructed us to relax and open our hearts and minds to the next hour. Before I got into the next yoga position, I opened my eyes, looked down at my glistening feet, and gave them a gentle pat. An it’s going to be okay pat.
And you know what? It WAS okay. After that self reassurance, I went through the rest of the class not putting my focus on my sweating. I was able to transcend my absolutely annoying, socially debilitating, painfully drippy existence for one hour to embrace some peace. Thank God there was a breeze blowing that morning. It was my saving grace.
I did not sweat during yoga except for the first five minutes or so. When it was over, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to cry or stand up and re-enact the Rocky Balboa movie scene when Sylvester Stallone reaches the top of the staircase in Philadelphia. When I left the park, I seriously felt like hugging complete strangers and telling them what I had just accomplished. This was a huge deal for me, and you can do the same thing for yourself. You never know until you try.
Thich Nhat Hanh also says, “When you understand your own suffering, compassion arises, and you know how to transform your own suffering. And with that, you can help other people do the same. Peace begins with yourself. Understanding and compassion begins with yourself.”
Little by little, drop by drop, I can try to transform my suffering into something with purpose. There may not be a cure right now, but I can make the active choice to “make my mess my message.” I choose not to be reduced by hyperhidrosis. I choose to do things outside of my comfort zone as a test to see just how far I can go regardless of whether I’m dry when I do it.
Funny how we attract into our lives exactly the things we need at the precise moment when we need them. I was ruminating on this blog post in my head before I even sat down to write it, and I happened to select the episode of Oprah’s Next Chapter on my DVR where she interviewed Thich Nhat Hanh. I rewound the recording and scribbled his two quotes on sticky notes because they made me think. A day or two after that, I read Robin Robert’s article in Good Housekeeping, where she quoted her mother about making one’s mess one’s message. Good stuff.
Tomorrow’s Saturday. I’ll be at the park doing yoga. What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
Copyright © 2012 My Life as a Puddle