I leave little bits of me everywhere I go.
This is an embarrassing thing to admit. After all, much of our childhoods are spent learning how to keep yourself in yourself. You pee in the toilet, you sneeze into a tissue, you wash out your spit in the sink. You don’t leave your toe nail clippings and your wads of hair just sitting around for the rest of humanity to witness.
As adults we have a lingering embarrassment about letting bits of ourselves out. This is of course vital in a society with modern health standards: we can’t just be leaving our waste in common areas. But it goes even farther than that. We are embarrassed to sweat or burp (or worse!). Women are only just now able to admit – in some settings – that they are enduring their monthly torture, the least controllable of all.
The fact is, however, that as much as we’d like to presume we have perfect control over keeping ourselves in (and the world out), this is pretty far from the case. To live we must breathe, a constant involuntary expulsion of not only air but of bits of us – even our DNA. We are constantly shedding skin (almost 9 pounds per year!), leaving a layer of us sitting wherever we’ve been. Our cells gently trail us everywhere, like ghosts packed with maps to build us over again.
Yoga class is a place where this is particularly notable, which is unfortunate for those of us with visions of ourselves posed in elegant leggings and perky ponytails. I for one sweat all over the place, a fact I’m quite aware of as it runs in different directions as I go upside down to right-side up.
A good tacky mat also is a good place for skin cells to stick as you shift and swoop around. And if skin is dry, as it is in winter, sometimes that means they might even be visible.
And if there’s any doubt that there are plenty of people exhaling in class, you just need to look at the windows in winter afterwards, clouded over with the humidity.
In yoga class, it becomes eminently obvious that I do not contain myself all that well. I am a living creature that is constantly taking things in and putting things out and there are no leggings cute enough to ignore it.
Fortunately, however, it is in yoga class that we can also embrace this. We concentrate on breath, noting how it goes in and comes out in different ways. While working hard, we are even encouraged to take good cleansing breaths out – breaths that are far from delicate. They are loud and intense and positively packed with bits of us, and they feel great. And when we breathe in, probably, in goes bits of others.
And so I say in that setting and maybe even in others, we can celebrate just how much we are a part of our environment, of the life around us, of each other. We are taking things in and letting things out. We are an integral ingredient in the the soup of life.
To remember this, we can get into Tiger pose, which I think also happens to look like part of the helix of a DNA strand. Out of table pose, you lift up one leg and reach back to grab it with the opposite hand. While there, think of how mini versions of you are everywhere – and that’s the way it must and should be.