Yoga’s Gifts

I am now a little over a quarter of the way through my daily yoga challenge, and so far so good!  I am pleased with my progress so far, in that I haven’t yet succumbed to a horrible injury or a bout of bronchitis as would normally be the case when I take something like this on.  Of course, contemplation and reflection are an important part of any yoga practice. As yet, my thoughts and insights aren’t as transformative as I might like, but perhaps that will come at week three or four.  For example, by day four, exhausted and in not a small amount of physical pain, I wondered if napping could be considered a form of yoga.  So much of yoga is about being restive, and allowing your body a chance to settle and recover.  I attended one restorative class last week that was essentially guided napping.  First we lay on one side of our bodies for a little while and then we very gently rolled over and lay on our other sides.  Admittedly, it was one of my favourite yoga classes. Walking home from that class I felt a kind of calm and an attunement to my surroundings that I rarely experience, and I thought, perhaps I should nap more. Maybe with some lovely yoga inspired music and candles, a nap might be able to provide me the same benefit at considerably less cost. For now, though, I plan to continue with the classes.

But, it hasn’t all been stillness and calm.  Yesterday, I was rushing to get to class.  I had stayed at work a little later than I should have, rushed home and quickly scarfed down some leftover pasta and chicken before running out the door to my Ashtanga class.  Perhaps it was the peppers in the pasta, but for much of the class my focus was not on my breathing, but on the building pressure of gasses in my intestinal tract. In such a quiet room, even the smallest of farts can be heard. Of course, it is a natural bodily process and all, and I know I should have been more zen about it, and just let it fly. I could tell though that it was going to be doozy of a fart, and vanity prevailed.  I just didn’t want to be the girl who farted during yoga class. Never before have I found the words, “allow yourself to release and let go” to be so antagonizing. It was like my yoga instructor was egging me on, and it took all my strength and determination to hold that fart in.

I was surprised to learn how common this is. A quick google search under “yoga and farting” garnered 1, 890, 000 hits! Clearly this is something many other people have struggled with too. One yoga instructor gave the following advice on her website, to her readers who might be worried about farting in the class: “Position yourself in a corner, or farther away from other yogis“.  Well, thanks a lot! What happened to acceptance and compassion?

At the end of class, lying in shivasana,  our yoga instructor asked us to consider what we had learned from this day’s yoga practice.  For me, I learned that despite contorting myself into positions that are highly encouraging of release, I have an incredible ability to withhold. Upon reflection, this is true in my life generally too. Not about the farting, but about the withholding. So, I suppose that though it was a horribly uncomfortable and distracting experience, my need to fart, was in the end actually quite instructive. The walk home following this class was pleasant in a distinctly different way from other nights, as the reassuringly silencing cloak of the city’s street life allowed me to enjoy a well-earned and satisfying “experience of release”, all the way home.

For those yoga warriors out there also doing battle on the mat with the yoga fart, here is a video you may find very helpful (and entertaining):