Yoga and Farting

Posted: November 24, 2011 in Yoga
Tags: , ,

My first introduction to yoga was not necessarily a positive one.  Of course, this was nearly three years ago long before my current practice at ‘Yoga by Sarah’. It occurred one evening while I was attending the “Beginners Yoga” class at the YMCA, upstairs in what’s known as the ‘Mezzanine’, a little annex in the middle of the indoor running track.

Back then, I was about 80lbs  heavier, not to mention not nearly as flexible as I am now.  Likewise, my diet still wasn’t what you might call stellar…sure, I had begun cutting back on calories and was well on my way to losing weight, but I was still a semi-slave to the greasy world of cheeseburgers and fried food for which I have lost most of my affinity with today.  I was a total noob to this whole fitness lifestyle thing, yoga etiquette, and triathlon wasn’t even a blip on my radar yet.  In essence, I was still trying to figure out what was going to provide me with a complete, yet manageable workout and since the classes at the YMCA were free I figured, “hey, why not?”  Hence my involvement in that class on that particular fateful April evening…

So, anyway, the class started off easy enough with your basic downward dog  and ‘cat  and cow  poses.  I was conscientious about being the only male amongst the group of largely attractive ladies, but that was more of a novelty than it was a concern.  But then disaster struck.  In the middle of holding ‘boat pose’, which was particularly difficult for me back then, I spontaneously erupted with a loud fart.  Fuck!  Not only was it audible to the entire class, but it actually reverberated around the entire track and echoed back on the opposite side of the class.  After taking a brief second to consider the rather impressive acoustics present on the indoor track, I was immediately mortified as all eyes shifted uncomfortably in my direction.  If I was sweating before, I certainly started to pour forth just then.  Even as their eyes began to fall back towards their own mats, I had already packed up and bid a hasty retreat – never to return again – and so ended my initial foray into the world of yoga.  How embarrassing.

Why do I bring this back up now you ask? Well, it just so happens that this exact same scenario unfolded once again this morning – also during ‘boat pose’ – except that it wasn’t me on the delivery side of things this time, but one of those attractive female practitioners who had cast those disparaging looks those three long years ago.  Where part of me wanted to erupt in giggles (hey, I just happen to be one of those juvenile guys who still thinks farts are inherently funny) I knew this was not the appropriate response.  Neither would jumping up, pointing an accusing finger at the erroneous party and loudly proclaiming:Ha!  See?  I’m not the only one who farts you know!”  No, that wouldn’t be cool at all.  But deep inside, I did feel somewhat vindicated.

So this brought about the question in the back of my mind today of ‘why do farts happen during yoga’?  In fact, I have been asked this question about a thousand times by other people who are either interested in trying yoga for themselves but also have this fear embedded firmly in their brain pans or people who, well, just happen to have an unholy interest in bodily gases I guess.

Truth is, farts happen.  If you were to Google “Why do people fart in yoga?”  (I did), you’d immediately be greeted with 812,000 results.  Clearly, yoga and farting is a popular topic.  In fact, there is something else known as a ‘vart’, or a sudden emission of vaginal gas common during menstruation, but thank GOD I don’t have to worry about those; keeping my one orifice in check is challenge enough it seems.  But eventually, there will be a moment at some point in your yoga session where you will seriously fight the temptation to fart.  The whole idea is that you’re supposed to be relaxing your muscles, but if you get too relaxed, your body might feel like it wants to announce it to the world.  However, the weird thing about it?  People in yoga totally let ‘em rip and no one even so much as bats an eyelash!  It’s true!  Unlike that original experience at the YMCA way back when, nobody even acknowledged it during this mornings in class.  It’s a bit odd at first when no one giggles, but as long as you’re discreet about it, I guess its okay. Unless you do it in someone’s face during ‘downward dog’, then it’s just nasty.

Now, bear in mind this is not license to carpet bomb your entire studio willy-nilly with air éclairs, but still, if it happens, it’s not the end of the world.  Nor am I going to lecture you with how you choose to handle the situation afterwards.  Maybe you’d like to respond with a polite ‘excuse me’, or perhaps the ‘ol shoulder shrug and universal ‘Oops.  What can you do?’  look. Whatever, I’ll leave that to you.  But what I have done since starting to practice yoga more regularly is to avoid eating altogether approximately two hours before class starts.  I have found that twisting my body in pretzel poses on an empty stomach is less likely to result in anything being suddenly evacuated from my bowels.

On the off chance, I do feel somewhat volatile there are two other evasive actions I will employ to further minimize risk of embarrassment.  First, I position myself in the corner as far away from the other yogis as possible.  I figure, there would be nothing worse than literally bitch-slapping somebody behind you in the face with a vicious toxic air biscuit, so I take strict precautions to make sure that never happens even if I do accidentally blow cheese.  Secondly, I try and do a little stretching even before class starts to dislodge anything that might be bubbling just under the surface.  And should I ever feel anything brewing, I can quickly excuse myself to the washroom to crack a cheek and simply squeeze away in privacy.

Namaste  and happy farting!

  1. Jen says:

    Hahahahaha!!! Downward dog in someones face?!? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!! You are too funny Terry. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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