Things to do

You’re sweating, so you might as well take your shirt off

The first time I took my shirt off in a yoga class was at Y2 Yoga in 2014. I had been seriously practicing yoga for three years – and seriously sweating. At yoga studios around town, I noticed men and women alike ripping off their shirts before class started. (Yes, sports bras stayed on.)

I wondered: Was this… freedom?

I was afraid to test it out for two reasons.

(1) I worried about what strangers would think of me. Would I seem slutty?

(2) I do not have killer abs. Thank you, chocoholism.

Still, that summer day in 2014 at Y2, I got over myself and peeled off my soaked yellow shirt to flaunt my bright, boring, orange sports bra. That summer day, I joined the ranks of the sweaty, zen, shirtless people who are really just too overheated to care what anyone would think.

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Granted, not every fitness establishment allows such skin exposure. Heaven forbid you see someone’s sensuous shoulder blades or yet-undefined pectorals. But opportunity strikes in plenty of yoga classes, CrossFit classes and outdoor exercise groups. Take advantage.

Five reasons to free yourself from your shirt:

(1) No one should give a crap what you’re doing with your clothes.

You’re allowed to lose the shirt at my favorite sweaty stomping grounds: Y2, Yoga One and Charlotte Yoga. Rather than screaming at you to have some decency, a teacher may gently remind you, as you melt and crumple onto your mat, that you’re here to have an individual experience. To inhale, to exhale. To tap into your inner self.

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(2) There is nothing classy about a hot yoga class.

Sweat drips from your pits, falls from your face and pours from weird places like your elbow creases. Human grossness is so humbling. Your T-shirt will not help you here.

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(3) There are so many cute sports bras to wear!

Or plain bras that accentuate your pretty new pants with those peacock feathers. Don’t worry, guys, there are just as many stylish options of booty shorts and tights for you. Pick a pattern and a color that make your perspiring skin pop.

(4) You’re not here to look hot.

Despite your cool pants. If you’re really pushing yourself, you probably look sick. If you’re really, really pushing yourself, you probably just stumbled out of the studio to get sick. That could be almost as liberating as taking your shirt off.

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(5) You feel the breeze.

Your gaze is going fuzzy and you’re having a hallucinatory vision of that penguin in the corner, when your teacher has mercy and turns on the fans overhead. That sweet breath of air whispers across every pore on your exposed torso. Stretch your arms high into Warrior One pose and praise the heavens. Or the ceiling fan. You have found freedom.

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Images courtesy of Feature photo by Katie Toussaint. 

Katie Toussaint
Katie Toussaint @katietoussaint