I’m a yoga teacher with my own studio who’s been in business for twenty-five years. I wonder if you could help me with a problem that’s new to me despite my wide experience and long time in the field. It’s about a student, a very nice woman in her forties who seems perfectly normal except for this one thing: she has such bad body odor that I’m afraid she’s going to drive everyone from class. I’ll be quite graphic here. Her hair is tangled and messy and dirty-looking. Her teeth are often caked with food, giving her bad breath. Her armpits smell and there’s a bad odor coming from her crotch. When she removes her shoes, OMG everyone in the room has to hold their nose. And yet, she’s the sweetest, nicest person you could imagine, with a job in sales (amazing!), an adoring husband, three loving children, and a nice house in a good neighborhood. Her friends have told me they’ve hinted their concerns about her slovenliness … to no avail. Even HR at her company has talked to her, but she just hasn’t seemed able to pick up on or do anything about their complaints. My question is, what can I say (or do) to get her to change this behavior? I’m a very direct person, so that’s not a problem. If she doesn’t change, I’m afraid I will have to ask her to leave the class.
The very first point to understand is that body odors can be caused by all sorts of things — food, medications, digestion, thyroid issues, glandular issues, issues pertaining to the gut and reproductive system — as well as poor hygiene. Added to that, most people literally cannot smell their own personal odors, so if they have bad breath for instance, there’s no way for them to know it short of someone telling them. I see nothing wrong with sitting your student down quietly and having a frank talk about the situation. You can ask her in the nicest way possible about her eating habits, what meds she’s on, etc. and then seek solutions to the problem together, letting her know, of course, how much you value her as a student. This may seem like an annoying and difficult problem to you, but it’s not at all uncommon and I think anyone who works closely with people — employers, trainers, teachers — should learn how to deal. Good luck. I’m sure you’ll do fine.
All the best,
REACTIONS TO BEREAVED
I’m one of those people CD was talking about who won’t go to funerals. I don’t want to see my friend or relative in a box, don’t want to see all the people or hear all the speeches. I rather grieve in my own personal private way. Hope that helps.
Karen G., Austin, TX
Funerals are important. As a sign of respect, friends and relatives of the departed should show up at their beloved’s final celebration. By that, I mean drop everything, no matter how inconvenient. The fact that you feel so guilty proves my point.
Barry J., Kileen, TX
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Disclaimer: CD Knowles is not a doctor or psychotherapist. Any opinions expressed on Knowles Knows are just that — opinions.