Most of us know the urban legend and have heard about the time that our cousin’s best friend’s girlfriend’s sister did the unthinkable in yoga class: passed gas.
Yes, the little bodily function that could…make some people not want to join a yoga class for fear that it could happen to them, which is a much more common fear than one would think! My dental hygienist, as she was cleaning my teeth, told me that’s the one thing holding her back from taking a yoga class.
In the past nine years of teaching yoga, I have heard my fair share of “bum music” in my classes and yes, it has happened to me. The ancient yogis knew all about it and even named a pose after it: pavanamuktasana—wind relieving pose!
Why does this happen and how should a yogi handle the song of the sphincter?
To put it bluntly, when we practice yoga, particularly twists, forward bends and squats, we mush up our internal organs, massage them if you will. When we do that, certain things happen. We improve our digestive and eliminative systems. We also are moving “prana” (oxygen, life force) around a little more efficiently. Combine those two factors with a stomach that has perhaps had too much pre-practice food (not to mention the type of food) and one may experience the dreaded “Asana Air Biscuit.”
Here are a few pointers to keep in mind:
1. It’s best to practice yoga on an empty stomach. If something must be ingested before class, try some fruit or peanut butter on bread (steer clear of the burritos until after class).
2. Try to empty the bowels before class if possible.
3. Look after your digestion and elimination all the time and not just on yoga class days. Eat a high fibrous diet. Fruits, veggies, grains, nuts and seeds are the most easily digested. Meat takes a heck of a long time to digest and since our intestines are long and twisty, undigested meat stays in there and putrefies. Sounds yummy, huh? Drink a lot of water to keep flushing the system out. I like to add lemons and limes to mine to add some flavourful digestive power.
4. Try using a “squatty potty!” It’s no joke. Google it. It’s a little stool (no pun intended) that you hike the feet up on, therefore putting the body (and bowels) in a position more conducive to pooping, therefore ridding your bowels! I have one and it’s wonderful.
5. If a “turtle burp,” “tushy tickler” or “trouser cough” happens to make a debut, 99.9% of the yoga teachers out there will not say a word and will keep guiding everyone through their poses. Whenever it happens to one of my students, I make a point of getting everyone in the class to get into a pose that requires them to focus on the pose and nothing else.
So, please, keep your sense of humour and don’t let a little bodily function stop you from enjoying your yoga class.
If the class and/or yoga teacher makes you feel embarrassed about what happens, it may be time to shop around for a new class.
Author: Karyn Austin
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Elsie Escobar/Flickr