I learned today how important it is for me to control how my environment smells while I do yoga. There is a funny story connected with my post title. A few hours before my yoga practice, My brother started washing the carpet on the stairs ten feet from my usual yoga space. I didn’t think too much about this until, while I was writing on the couch, I smelled the cleaner he was using. The cleaner’s smell was so powerful I could barely stomach staying in the same room. Several hours later, I moved my yoga mat into the kitchen to avoid the awful stench in the living room, only to have OTHER scents from our pantry and sink assault my poor nose. I felt slightly nauseous and struggled concentrating on the poses I was doing.
Conclusion, smells have a powerful effect on me especially when I exercise. This experience brought back many memories from my childhood, especially in the Arizona heat, where powerful smells completely ruined my concentration while playing sports in PE or participating in church activities. There was even an instance a few years ago in a yoga studio in Utah. The studio and the teachers were nice and I liked the overall feeling there. However, the incense or smells the owners of the studio used made me nauseous and a total mess for the rest of the day. Unfortunately, I never went to that studio again.
After my experience today, it got me thinking about how other people react to smells. Are there others who have a hard time practicing because of it? I do know many yoga studios use smell as a means of to help students mediate. As Ta Yoga founder Terri Kennedy once noted, “Scent denotes certain things, so we use scent to set a mood, energy, and space.” Though this is the case, there are most likely more people like me who are super sensitive to scents.
I don’t think there is necessarily a right or wrong answer on whether teachers should use incense or essential oils for their classes. What is important for me, especially as I think of how I want to teach yoga classes in the future, is trying to make a studio or class as welcoming and comfortable as possible. Sometimes that means having a candle or incense burning in or outside the room. Other times there are poor people like me who need the air as clean as possible.
Thank you for reading! See you tomorrow.