About Me

Yoga changed my Life and it's just too good a thing to keep to myself! I have been practicing yoga since 1995 and am a certified yoga instructor. I teach a combination of classical Hatha, Ashtanga and Vinyasa Flow. My teaching style is safe, compassionate and challenging at the same time. I teach at a number of studios, and also offer private and group lessons!

In addition to my schedule, I post other writings here, about yoga and Life in general. For private or group lessons, contact me at: workofheartyoga@gmail.com .

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Let's not dance around it...the Yoga Fart.

There, I said it.

What would possess me to write about such a topic on my wonderfully designed website/blog? Aren't I afraid of scaring off the more easily offended and reserved subscribers that may be tuning in?

The answer my dears, is No. I fear not offending ye, and shall tell ye why.

It's real. It is not a myth. The Yoga Fart. It's out there, like school yard humiliation waiting for the perfect moment to pounce, unexpectedly, rumbling up from the depths of who knows where, in the middle of a perfectly zen-like yoga class.

Picture it: there you are, in your yoga clothes, be they snug or be they loose, with your own special 6 ft by 2.5 ft sticky mat claim of space. You are deeply into your breathing, mastering the focus of the mind, hands pressing into the floor, hips lifted for downward facing dog, and as you exhale and tilt your tailbone up, the alarms sound...an escapee. "Brrrrrrrrup!" There was nothing you could do, no warning, no little cramp of gas to alert you, that one was about to let fly.

Or picture THIS: you are having a terrific class, you feel like you are in the yoga meditative zone, you even popped up into headstand without putting a hole in the studio wall for the first time. As you drop down and come into child's pose, the instructor comes over and he/she presses on your low back to help your hips drop. As you inhale deeply, as instructed, the belly balloons with air, an right then and there with the instructor hovering only a foot or two over you, *POW!*

Here's the deal.

Exercising in general tends to stir things up. Anyone who has ever exercised can attest to this. Whether it's swimming (much harder to hide the bubbles), running, sit-ups at the gym or in gym class in school, lifting weights, aerobics, dance, martial arts, or yoga.

The interesting thing is that asana practice - the physical practice of yoga - includes poses, such as pavanamuktasana or virasana, and movements, such as cat-cow stretch, that are actually designed to aid digestion, to help align sphincters and "massage" internal organs to work toxins out of the body's system. So, next time you eek one out, just think of it this way: it's a sign that the yoga is working! It's doin' its thing! And it's a sign that maybe some of the other things people say yoga can do for you might also be true (*mumbles and whispers ripple through the crowd, heads nodding...)

"But, April! That's EMBARRASSING in a class full of people!" Ok, ok. Before you get all red in the face... This should A) NOT deter you from doing yoga, especially my classes, and B) there are things you can do to deal with it.

If the escapee comes from your own temple/body:

1. Ignore it, and keep the mind focused. It's a natural thing, everyone's passed gas before. There may be one or two people in the class that are developmentally stuck at the age of 13 who won't be able to let it go, but most folks can sympathize and will forget it by the next pose.

2. Giggle and then sigh it out. Sighing is the ultimate sign of letting go, and if you feel the need to acknowledge it was you, go for the giggle. The sigh let's others know you have moved on and so should they.

3. Cough. It's the age-old trick, which fools no one, but is the socially-acceptable cover-up. Others will respect that you did the right thing by attempting to sweep it under the carpet/mat, if-you-will.

4. Say "excuse me." But that goes beyond all bravery. That's out and out claiming it. Choose this one wisely, however, because the social apology may actually draw others' attention to it when they'd already moved on, and it may disrupt others who are using their asana practice as a moving meditation.

If the escapee comes from a neighboring temple/body:

1. Ignore it. See number 1 above, unless you are actually 13, then move on to number 2.

2. Don't look around to see who turns red. Your focus should be on you, but granted, we are all human, and considering most Americans are raised on bathroom humor, it's human to giggle a little. But it's also human to try to be compassionate by not embarrassing or shaming someone else.

3. Say "excuse me," and take the fall for a fellow yogi! It's what you've been practicing Warrior II for anyways, right? You would go down in the books as a yoga hero, and create a little nook of good karma for yourself!

If you are a teacher and let one fly or one of your students lets one fly:
1. Talk over it. Works every time. It helps to calm the class giggles, and refocus their attention on the movements, the breathe, etc.

2. Take the fall. Saying "excuse me," will draw the attention back to you, even if folks know you didn't do it. And, taking the fall gives you the opportunity to explain that it happens sometimes, probably means the yoga is doing what it's supposed to do, that it's natural and to move on. An added benefit is that your students may see you are willing to go the extra mile for them. Being a teacher is often about creating a safe space for people to practice their yoga.

***The ONLY caveat here, is if this is not a little escapee, but an earth-rumbling, window-shattering, tyrant of a fart. In this case, a few things come to mind.

Sometimes, uncontrollable laughter strikes as unexpectedly as does gas. Sometimes you just gotta' roll with it, whether you are the farter or the witness to the fart. Try not to laugh maliciously, and try not to feel humiliated if others burst into giggles - they, too, are human.

Although I will reiterate, it is natural and happens sometimes, there are also some ways to avoid or decrease the arise of the Yoga Fart:
1. Try not eating or drinking for about 2 hours before doing yoga. This also lessens the chances of feeling a little heart-burn, and burping. If you have low-blood sugar, you can try some fruit juice or light fare (usually not protein) an hour or so before class.

2. Identify foods that give you more gas, and try not to eat those the day of your yoga class.

3. Make a trip to the bathroom before taking a class. Emptying out sometimes helps the mind be clear and ready to focus and can improve your yoga experience altogether.

*A note about your health: If you are constantly passing gas - you may want to look at your diet, particularly if you are experiencing physical discomfort. I am not versed on how much gas is normal to pass, but if it is causing you pain, or embarrassment, you might want to talk it over with your health care provider to see if anything is going on with your digestive tract.

Now, I pose it to you, my yoga readers: Do you think that Yoga is more "farty" than other physical practices? Do you have any particular stories you would like to offer up about one of your own "escapees" or how folks can deal with it should the issue arise? I welcome all comments, stories, anecdotes, research, etc. I would love to hear them. You can comment here on the blog, or email them to me at: workofheartyoga@gmail.com.

Now go, be free of your fears of the Yoga Fart. It won't destroy you. I promise. Not in my classes.


April KirkHart
(310) 559-2570