Confession. I am a profuse sweater and it has caused a lot of social anxiety in my life both on and off my yoga mat. I have a condition called hyperhidrosis, which is the clinical term for excessive sweating. It affects my hands and feet and makes things like wearing close-toed shoes, shaking hands, playing the piano, and practicing yoga pretty challenging for me. In fact, I almost gave up on yoga entirely after my first class because I was so discouraged by how much I slipped on my mat. I could barely hold a downward dog without sliding flat onto my face.
Fast-forward almost 20 years later and I can’t imagine my life without yoga. Thankfully, my downward dog has improved since that first class, but the one thing that hasn’t changed is how much I sweat. Fortunately, yoga mats and accessories have evolved from the days when I used to bring my brightly colored oversized beach towel to the studio, but I still have anxiety-inducing moments when my sweat gets the best of me.
Acro yoga? Forget about it. There’s nothing more uncomfortable and stress inducing for me than sweaty hand-to-hand contact with another human I am entrusting my life with as I’m being spun around upside down.
Yoga Photo shoots? They make me sweat every time. Over the span of my teaching career, I’ve shot spreads for various yoga magazines and been hired for numerous yoga product campaigns and without fail, every time I step in front of the camera my hands and feet instantly start dripping. Poses that feel effortless for me during my home practice suddenly become nearly impossible to hold if I’m on a slippery surface. Not to mention the sweat stains I leave behind on my clothing!
Then there’s yoga assists and adjustments. First off, as a teacher I only offer hands-on adjustments with clear consent, but there are also moments when I steer clear of assists entirely simply because I don’t want my hands to drip on someone else’s body.
I’ve contemplated medical intervention for my hyperhidrosis, but taking oral medication with a risk of harmful side effects, injecting botox into my palms, or extreme surgery to remove my sweat glands, simply isn’t worth the payoff for dry hands and feet.
So what’s an excessively sweaty person to do? Yogitoes skidless towels have always been my saving grace, but I always dreamed of a toweless practice. Enter the Manduka GRP mat. For a serious sweater, this mat is seriously life changing. It’s the only mat I’ve ever owned, where it’s no sweat if I forget my towel. The grip is that good. The stylish leather-like surface delivers the ultimate traction for my hands and feet and allows me to hold a Warrior II solidly without sliding into the middle splits. The bottom of the mat is also ultra grippy and stays firmly put on whatever surface you unroll it.
As a bonus, the GRP’s core and bottom layer are made with sustainably harvested natural tree rubber and manufactured in a sustainable factory in Spain that produces no toxic emissions, so it’s great for your practice and the planet.
For all my fellow super sweaters, beyond switching out your old mat for the no-slip GRP, here are a few other tips that have helped me maintain a yoga practice without throwing in the towel:
Wear dark clothing or anything with a pattern. Light coloured clothing makes sweat stains much more visible, so for me, black is my best friend.
Avoid spicy foods and stimulants like caffeine before yoga, which can contribute to sweating.
Surround yourself with loving, supportive people who see you, not your sweat.
Remind yourself that everyone in class is focused on their own practice and not judging you for how much you sweat.
Speak to yourself positively. Remind yourself that sweating is normal and serves a natural purpose. When I’m in the middle of a sweat fest, I mentally affirm to myself “I release heat efficiently”.
Lastly, don’t give up! The world needs your sweaty shine.