Sweat It Out

You get more out of your sweat than dirty laundry.

Yoga-induced sweats have helped me wade through heavy emotion, leaving negativity behind in beads and pools on my mat. I’ve moved rhythmically from pose to pose, reveling in the joys of life, sweat leaving my body as an ode to the gift of existence. When practice is slow and restorative, the light mist of sweat on skin soothes one’s soul, seeking rest and respite. As the yogi’s heightened senses becomes attuned to the more discreet experiences of the practice, she discovers the touch of sweetness that sweat adds to yoga. It’s no surprise then that research indicates sweating is more than a natural act of bodily release. Many of us know that already, because we’ve felt it. Studies have shown that sweating is act of self-care, able to improve the quality of life of not only the person sweating, but also those with whom they come in contact. When induced mindfully, sweating is—I dare say—an act of conscious living. Read on to find out why.

Sweating Promotes Happiness

Exercise, especially the type that produces significant sweat through either intensity or prolonged engagement, has been proven to increase endorphins, affectionately known as the happy hormone. Studies further indicate that more endorphins are released during sweaty group exercises like hot yoga. Recent research also reveals that happy sweaty people spread their happiness to others via emissions from their sweat. Since asana practice is all about renewing balance and generating good vibes, we can postulate that when our sweaty yoga bodies step out into the world, we are infusing those around us with the positive energy we’ve cultivated in class, even through our sweat!

Sweating Fights Disease

Studies show that sweating rids the skin’s surface of disease-causing bacteria, viruses, and fungi. A natural antibiotic called dermcidin has also been found in sweat. Sweat, therefore, not only decreases the potential for illness and disease for the person doing the sweating, it also potentially lessens the chances of that person passing on disease to those with whom they come in contact. Sweating is, by extension, not only a positive act of self-care, but also positively contributes to public health.

Sweating Releases Toxins

Many of us can attest to the power of “sweating it out.” Some people get on their yoga mats to sweat out colds, while others sweat out a few drinks from the night before. Most of the time it works. Why? According to some research, sweating does indeed eliminate toxins from the body, whether you want to rid yourself of a bug or want to detox from common environmental toxins. The combination of movement, breath, and sweat in asana practice can also release hurt and trauma we knowingly and unknowingly hold on to, which also creates its own form of toxicity. Though official data may not be readily available to support this type of toxic release, many of us can affirm its validity based on our own experiences.

Be Conscious ‘Yoga-Sweating’ Consumers!

In true yogi style, it’s important we sop up all that sweat with yoga gear and clothing that are made by companies that engage in eco-friendly, socially conscious practices. Conscious consumerism is in line with yogic philosophy, which urges us to make balanced choices that are not only for the greater good of ourselves, but for all existence. When done mindfully, the seemingly mundane act of sweating, how that sweat is activated, the feelings experienced while sweating and the tools we choose to sweat with, can all add up to be a spiritual practice. Clearly, there can be magic in the act of sweating, once we bring awareness to our experience of it. You’ll never look at your dripping wet clothes the same again. Photo by Jake Laub Written by Kinisha Correia for Manduka