I have been thinking a bit about this question since my previous post. If you practice Ashtanga, chances are you will sweat at least some, at least some of the time. I personally know one person who can get through all of second without breaking a sweat (or at least not noticeably), but such a person is, I take it, a somewhat rare case. So most of us will sweat during practice to varying degrees, anywhere from a light film on the skin to a puddle/mini-lake on your mat or the space in front of it. To my mind, these are some of the possible things one can do with one's sweat:
(1) Wipe it off with a towel.
(2) Wear a headband/bandanna/some other kind of sweat-absorbent headgear.
(3) Do nothing; just allow the great gushing rivulets of brine to flow off your body in all their glory.
(4) Rub it back into your body.
To be sure, this list probably does not exhaust all the possibilities: For example, one can also (at least in theory) lick oneself off like a cat. But I'm not going to go there...
As Kimberly said in the video I posted yesterday, (4) is what is traditionally prescribed: It is supposed to unleash the fountain of youth. Interesting. The trouble with this, as with so many other aspects of Ashtanga practice, is that there is no scientific basis for this: To my knowledge, no long-term studies have been done to date about the effects of rubbing sweat back into one's body.
Of course, just because something doesn't have a scientific basis does not mean it doesn't work. In fact, as somebody pointed out in a blog post or comment somewhere sometime ago, it's not even scientifically proven that sweating actually releases toxins. And I can imagine that there's probably a whole bunch of things about Ashtanga yoga practice (and Hatha yoga practice in general) that has not been subject to any systematic long-term studies. Not that that has prevented a bunch of crazy people from doing this practice six days a week... :-)
Well, I probably should stop here; I see that this post is quickly spiraling into rambling-about-neither-here-nor-there-land. But I guess I'll leave you with a question: What do you do with that salty-tasting liquid that comes out of the beautiful pores on the skin of your beautiful body when you practice?
In case you are shy to share, I'll start the ball rolling. I basically just let it flow freely. I have done this even before I started practicing Ashtanga, because I've always felt that stopping to wipe the sweat off really breaks my practice rhythm. I'm not a big fan of rubbing the sweat in, but I do it when getting into Garbha Pindasana; I basically rub the sweat all over my arms and use it as a, well, natural lubricant to get my arms through, because I am too lazy to get up to go get a spray bottle.
What about you? What do you do with all that sweat?