Embrace: Sweaty Body!

graphic convention of manga, sweating, used to...

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Summer is a pretty uncomfortable time for me because I am a sweater.  And by that I don’t mean that I’m a warm garment that one tends to put on the colder months (or my office, in June), I mean that I sweat like it is going out of style.  I have always been this way, and if anything, I sweat less now than I used to.  Now to be clear, it’s not that I just sweat for no reason; I sweat when it’s hot, or when I’m exercising.  But the amount I sweat seems ridiculous.  By the time I get home from a short run once the weather warms up, my shorts are dripping and the rest of my apparel is soaked.  When I go out for a long run, I come back looking like I got caught in a downpour.  It sucks when your clothing is stuck to you because the rate at which you sweat is faster than the rate at which your running gear can wick your perspiration away.

On Saturday morning, I went to a yoga workshop at Pure Yoga that consisted of doing 108 sun salutations.  Since I plan to write a post dedicated to the workshop, I won’t go into further detail than that.  Suffice it to say, though, that 108 is a lot of sun salutations, and sun salutations tend to get your blood pumping and your body temperature rising.  Cue the sweat.

I expected to get sweaty.  I even brought a towel.  I wore a thin t-shirt over my sports bra and the shortest shorts I had.  After about 5 full sun salutations, my hands were starting to slip forward when I was in downward dog.  About 5 salutations later, I took one of the studio’s towels and laid it across the top of my mat so that my hands would have a bit more grip.  Ah, relief.  Meanwhile, the sweat from the rest of my body dripped steadily onto the rest of my mat.  Not too long thereafter, I noticed that my shirt was plastered to my front.  Luckily, I’d anticipated getting sweaty and I hadn’t worn a white sports bra.  Without thinking too much about it, I took my shirt off and dropped it in a soaking pile next to my mat.  Soon I had a second towel in the place where I placed my feet for downward dog, and the rate at which I was dripping had increased.  Any kind of inversion we did (downward dog, forward fold, you name it) caused the sweat from my sports bra and hair to practically rain down onto the mat.  I kept glancing furtively around me.  Surely I wasn’t the only person who felt like they were bathing in their own perspiration?  From where I stood, though, it looked like I was.

I started wondering what other people were thinking.  What about the instructors?  They probably didn’t even want to touch me to make adjustments.  Ugh, how disgusting they must think I am!  And they’re right–look at how disgusting I am!! As I moved through the asanas, I felt myself becoming more and more preoccupied with my sweaty body.  And then I was struck by something: I was standing in a room of 50 other yogis, in my sports bra and a pair of small shorts.  I hadn’t worried about taking my shirt off, and I hadn’t spent a second thinking about what other people might be thinking about my bare stomach.  Why not?  Because that bare stomach was powering me through sun salutation after sun salutation.  My exposed limbs and midsection were part of a strong body that was moving with strength, grace, and agility through two and a half challenging hours of yoga.  I wouldn’t have traded it for anything.  And it occurred to me that part of what made body my body, part of what made it so great, was that I sweat.  If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be me.  And if I’d been given the choice of having a sweaty body strong enough to do 108 sun salutations and a dry body that couldn’t do any sun salutations at all, I’d choose the sweaty one without a second thought.

Even though some days it might be harder to recognize than others, I love my body.  Sweat and all.


This post is part of my weekly Embrace:Me series.  Embrace:Me is dedicated to promoting positive self-image and combating the negative messages we hear about our bodies not only from society and the media, but from ourselves as well.  If you would like to share your story of body acceptance, please email me at icametorun [at] gmail [dot] com.

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  1. I sweat a lot on the run and always feel very conspicuous, like everyone’s staring at the “gross sweaty girl”. But I’m sure it’s in my head… and I like the way you reminded yourself that the sweating body is what got you through all that sun salutation-ing!

    1. As I was writing this post I was thinking about what it is exactly about being sweaty that we end up being so embarrassed by. Is it the association with body odor? The fact that sweatiness is depicted as being unclean in movies, television, and in other images? I don’t know, but it’s certainly much more common to feel bad about sweating than it is to feel good. I always try to remind myself that sweating is a healthy response to physical exertion, not a sign of some kind of flaw.

      1. This goes along with a post I’m planning soon… Sweating is rarely (if ever) treated as a good thing (especially in regard to women) in our society, but lack of sweating is far more dangerous!

  2. Okay, I am seriously impressed by your yoga abilities.

    Since I started tae kwon do, sweating a lot gives me a certain sense of pride. The instructors are always dripping sweat all over the place during class, so if I’m sweating as hard as they are, it means I’m working as hard as they are. At least, that’s how it works in my head.

    (Also that room smells so godawful that no one would ever notice one girl’s BO. Some days it’s like walking into a sauna. Of SWEAT. Eurgh.)

  3. I feel like if you don’t sweat a lot, you’re not hydrated enough. After my runs, I’m always drenched and i feel okay about it because of my first sentence. What bothers me is when I sweat when I’m putting on my eye makeup before going to work. Or when I’m washing dishes and I have to stop because the hot water makes me begin to perspire. That really gets me mad! But during a workout, it’s good – it means you’re working hard and you are hydrated (hopefully!).

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