“Spiritual B.O.,” by Claudia Fucigna

May 16th, 2018 | By | Category: Nonfiction, Prose

You might think patchouli, but that’s not what I mean. I mean spicy shoes left to fumigate by the door. Acrid plastic yoga mats made in China that will take Vedic ages of rebirth to break down in a landfill. Gluten-free soy candles blessed by Peruvian shamans that cost an arm and a leg. Burned sage sitting on top of a seven-layer dip of cologne created by human bodies in motion.

Scents of the body leave the largest aromatic impression. The woman in the front row with her phone out, scanning emails with her ass high up in the air in down dog. Her ass is perfect but her perfume is effluvious, saccharine, choking, and makes me wonder, what are you hiding?

Or the jock with a trim business cut who sneaks in extra chatturangas. He wears sour, skunky clothes already sweated in. They’ve dried and sat in his gym bag to be worn the next day. Maybe the day after that, too. Is there no one at home to notice the mephitic pollution? No one to throw his clothes in the washer and tell him to get in the shower? Who might even find his reek an endearing example of his absentmindedness? But I suspect he comes to the gym every day like a religious man and exercises to exhaustion, oblivious to the putrid odor, until no longer bothered by the lack of intimacy in his clockwork life.

They don’t tell you this when you start teaching yoga; you will inhale and see more of people than you ever wanted to.

That someone will emanate booze so badly, alcohol seeps out of her pores.

Or the musky, murky scent of recent sex, lurking under lycra.

Along those same (pant)lines, the dank iron of a period.

Or a sickly, poisonous pungence like decaying from the inside out. A bouquet like a warning sign, blaring: something is rotting in the state of Denmark. A heady whiff that makes you avoid that side of the room entirely. A smell that makes you think about death.

That pretty girls can stink the worst.

That everyone apologizes for their olfactory aura when they hug you after class.

I’ve encountered other smells along the way… India’s aroma consists of constant fire; someone burning something, somewhere. Coconut oil on sun-baked skin. Wafts of Nag Champa during puja in a Mysore temple. Unfiltered gasoline that kicks you in the face as a family of four zings by clutching one another, squeezed onto one motorcycle seat, the father steering with a single hand. The strong, fruity betel juice spat on me from a passing car while biking to see the Taj Mahal that made me laugh until I cried about the sacred and the profane. Honeyed ghee melting over warm naan bread.

Bowing down at my teacher’s feet in a salutation of respect, to meet the simple scent of earth.


Claudia Fucigna is a writer, filmmaker and recovering yoga addict who lives in Los Angeles. She studied theater and psychology at NYU, spends a large majority of time brainstorming brilliant ideas to save mankind, wrangling fur babies, and snacking.

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