heightened sense of smell


I went to my SECOND yoga class last night. It was more difficult than my first class–the instructor was more demanding, the class more crowded, the poses focused on core muscles (the weakest point in my body). I was trembling, I felt my body STRETCHING!

But I still loved it. There is something about yoga that is NON-competitive and it really just makes me focus on myself and my capabilities in that moment. One of the gifts of my stroke (yes, there are gifts) is having been forced to live in the present tense–quite a relief from my normal self. My normal self spends 80% of its time fretting and worrying about the FUTURE. The FUTURE looms LARGE in my mind.

The stroke gave me a bit of a cure from that, robbing me of my short term memory and the ability to juggle things in my head, retain them…in short, the stroke robbed me of the tools/ingredients for worry. I could ONLY focus on the moment and enjoy that moment, for in half an hour, it would dissolve into the recesses in my mind, lost, like the fading of a picture.

And so it goes with yoga. I’m still not 110% in love with it yet–it takes an effort to get my butt to class, but once I’m there, I’m liking it a lot. And afterwards, I feel a great sense of peace.

The after effects of yoga are quite notable. I feel more flexible already, I feel the hint of improved posture. And this week? I have an incredible HEIGHTENED SENSE OF SMELL. I can smell EVERYTHING!

For better and for worse–this morning I was at the Chinese consulate and waiting in line outside, I was nauseated by the smell of cigarette smoke. I tried very hard to keep reading my New Yorker, but I just could not ignore the overwhelming SMELL. And then when we were let inside and we took our places in the seats, our numbered tags in hand, I was overwhelmed by the SMELL of PEOPLE. The smell of people breathing through their mouths, the smell of people who hadn’t showered, the smell of moth balls! It was incredible–and a bit unexpected.

I mean, I always look at my dogs, just reveling in the scents of the world. Sometimes, I’ve envied them their acute sense of smell, they seem to take such intense pleasure out of it, sticking their noses out the car window, sniffing their food and trembling with joy! That.is.not.what.I.experienced this morning.

Then later, I accompanied a friend to lunch–I didn’t eat because the place was not kosher for passover, but I did take pleasure in being out in the sunshine–but oh man. The place SMELLED. Like a kazillion kinds of smoky food. The cacophony of smells was dissonant. I had to step outside. My friend wasn’t bothered by it at all–but how could he NOT have smelled all of that?

Oh, and I immediately picked up a cough last night after yoga. A bit of phlegmy cough. I thought perhaps that was because of yoga.

But I think the cough and phlegm might be–the flu? Argh. But it’s nearly May!



Filed under Fitness, The Stroke

12 responses to “heightened sense of smell

  1. That is so trippy! You’re intriguing me. Sort of. My daughter just came home from her first yoga class (monkey yoga?) and she loved it.

  2. monkey yoga near lake merritt? i hear good things about that place.

  3. I’m really glad you are enjoying yoga… I was going to Restorative Yoga (at Piedmont Yoga) for a while. Very relaxing and simple – not a “work out” but helps you restore your energy. When I was still really healthy and vigorous, it seemed nice but maybe not tough enough – I wanted to push. now that I need all the restoration I can get, it is just right.

    PS I ride by the Chinese consulate every Thursday on my way to UCSF Mt. Zion. I went by there at about 7:40 a.m. today… Funny that you were there, too. What a strange place to be.

  4. Glad you’re loving the yoga. I’ve never had the intense smelling thing after practicing, though. The only time I had that gut-wrenching reaction to smell was when I was newly pregnant. There were certain pubs in my part of London I couldn’t walk past because of the smell of old, stale oil.

  5. anonwupfan

    Your post recalls the immortal words of Bill Hicks:

    โ€œPeople will say the stupidest things sometimes too, ‘Hey, man, if you quit smoking you get your sense of smell back.’

    I live in New York City, I got news for you–I DON’T WANT my f***ing sense of smell back.

    *sniff* ‘Is that urine?’

    *sniff* ‘I think I smell a dead guy! Honey, look, a dead guy! …covered in urine! Check this out!’

    ‘Someone just pee’d on this guy, that’s fresh. Just think, if I’d been smoking I never would have found him!’ โ€

    “Monkey Yoga” sounds awesome (prob. can’t live up to expectations.)

    Keep at it JP and have a good time.

  6. Leila: you must have just missed me as you passed by (I went into line a bit later than that time). Restorative yoga sounds sooo nice.

    charlotteotter: if you’re hinting–I’m not pregnant! The heightened smell has faded today. Drats–because I made it a point to go to nice smelling places today. ๐Ÿ™‚

    anonwupfan: thank you–funny anecdote.

  7. Susan, I used to go to Monkey Yoga when I lived in Oakland and I know both Laura and Tim who teach there (Laura also used to be one of my climbing partners.)

    Jade, I’m so jealous! I miss yoga so much (I’m certified to teach, and I used to do it every day many years ago.) I was planning to go today, but came down with a cold. I’ve been just once since I broke my wrist ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I’m so glad you’ve discovered it and that you’re enjoying it! Pregnancy, by the way, also heightens your sense of smell and mine hasn’t gone away. The smell that makes me really gag is the smell of plastic that comes with so many baby toys. Argh.

  8. Bustopher: isn’t this cold/flu incredible? i think i must have caught it at my yoga class or something. i don’t think i’m pregnant, but i had some insight into what pregnant women go through with that smell thing a few days ago!

  9. I’m happy to read about your yoga experience. I’ve been practicing yoga (on and off) for the last 7 years. I started with a class at the RSF and then checked out studios in London, DC, Pasadena and Topeka. I now have a new studio in Davis. It’s hard work but I also love being encouraged to focus on the present. I’m either obsessing over past mistakes and/or future anxieties. I also find myself using that yoga breathing to calm down at work and stop myself from biting off people’s heads. I’m sure my co-workers would be grateful about that, if they knew.

    Yoga’s cool!

  10. I want to do restorative yoga! I could use some restoration.

    Daughter has moved onto Bikram smelly hot yoga. That is the last thing on earth I would ever want to do.

  11. queenkv: you are such an athlete! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Susan: yoga is really good. I haven’t been for a week now because of my flu but as soon as I can go more than five minutes without coughing, I am going back. (I am holding myself to that weird “five minutes without coughing” bar because even though I have no more fever and am feeling otherwise fine, there is a lot of stillness in yoga and coughing is not stillness, in my book).

    bikram is my idea of hell on earth.

  12. When I am coming down with a cold, I have a heightened sense of smell at the very beginning, when I am sneezing and my nose is just starting to get raw. It only lasts for a day at most, as soon as the cold really comes on, my sense of smell is worse than usual.

    I was actually googling for this when I came upon your blog, so I don’t think it is widely known or perhaps we are rare in this.

    PS It sure is a small world isn’t it! ๐Ÿ˜€

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