Especially when you’re new to yoga, a whole bunch of slightly uncomfortable situations can come up that you’re just not sure how to handle.
From farts to varts, body odor to sweaty strangers, I’ve got some helpful info for you which should help ease your mind so you can practice worry-free.
Yoga expert Ann Pizer has been the About.com Guide to Yoga since 2004. She knows the concerns that yoga practitioners have and has shared them in a variety of articles.
The first question she says comes up above all else is:
In the yoga class, I seem to always be farting. Is there anything I can do?
So, first, there definitely are things you can do. From taking probiotics to doing a few specific yoga poses before class (Wind Relieving Pose anyone?), there are many natural steps you can take to help minimize your gaseous tendencies.
That said, farting is natural and the stretching and twisting that you do in yoga intentionally stirs things up… and, really, releasing is the name of the game in yoga anyway, right?
Truthfully, everyone has their own stand on the topic, but here’s mine… The worst thing you can do is try to hold it in throughout the entire practice. Think about it… If you do, you’re tensing your muscles – and not the getting strong kind of tensing – holding in and creating more tension in your body (and mind) which is way not the point of yoga.
Now that doesn’t mean you can’t be considerate. If you’re in downward dog and the yoga teacher is walking by, you can try to hold it in. But, if you can’t, know that it won’t be the first time someone has farted near him or her.
In terms of what other people are going to think… Who cares? We’re all grown-ups, right? If they really want a quiet and stink-free practice they can practice at home. This is being part of community and people fart. (end of rant)
This next question is kind of awesome. If you’re a varter, this one’s for you:
Sometimes my body suddenly moves air out of my vagina making a fart-like noise when I come out of an inversion. How can I bring this embarrassment to an end?
While I don’t personally have a lot of experience with the post-inversion vaginal fart, I found some excellent words of wisdom in the Ask Aunt Yoga Advice Column.
Here’s what she said:
You are suffering from the dreaded vart (that’s vaginal fart). And no, it’s not uncommon to experience this
when coming out of an inversion, especially for women after childbirth, which loosens the pelvic floor. You have several possible solutions, and it sounds like you are already trying one of them: mula bandha. This engagement of the pelvic floor muscles isn’t called the root lock for nothing. It should prevent air from getting in as well as out if you can hold it throughout the pose. This takes some practice, but it is actually a recommended method, especially practiced by Ashtanga yogis, to give your inversions lift, strength, and balance. You can also attempt to do non-class Kegel exercises to reinforce these ignored muscles.
So in the first two questions we talked about issues that come up with your own body during yoga class.
The next two are about dealing with other people’s bodies.
In this first one, Pizer shared an impressively yogic answer to a pretty funny question:
Someone has a really heinous body odor in my periodic yoga class. How can I get him to enhance his hygiene for him?
See if you can work on altering yourself instead of attempting to alter someone else. The yogic principle of pratyahara means withdrawal of the senses.
You should attempt to be so invested in your own exercise that outside sights, noises, or even smells will not disturb you. Simply place yourself across the space from the yogi with the stink on while you are working on reaching this ideal.
Does your yoga teacher do a lot of partner work during class?
Are there times that you struggle with your partner’s sweaty tendencies?
This one’s for you:
My instructor likes to call for stretches of partner, but I’m not pleased to join a sweaty stranger. What am I supposed to do?
When it comes to partner stretches, you have a few choices: find a fresh instructor ; place your mat next to the class’s most appealing and/or least sweaty stranger ; take your own (appealing, non-sweaty) partner ; or learn to love it. Remember that you are also the sweaty stranger of someone else.
If you love these, Pizer answered even more embarrassing yoga questions in her About.com article including what to do if you need to pee and why so many yogis wear thongs.