The Wind in Yoga

As a yoga teacher, and a practicing yogi I am occasionally asked about the issue of ‘wind’.  It has actually turned some people off the practice, thinking that it is a common phenomenon.  Truth be told, it happens……..like it happens anywhere.  Funny how the things we have most in common to each other, like bodily functions, are the things we are most embarrassed about.

I can have a heavy night on Tequila, get on the mic and sing an out of tune version of ‘you’re still the one’ by Shania Twain and reveal some really personal fantasies to the boy I currently fancy, and not be half as embarrassed the next day than if I had let wind in front of someone.

In all the years I have practiced yoga it has only happened to me once.

Nearly 10 years ago I took a yoga class with my then boyfriend, P.  It was in a beautiful one room studio in Newtown, Connecticut set on the side of a country road.  It was new to the area and P and I were keen to support it.  While the studio supported many different schools of yoga, we started with a Kundalini style class yoga class held every Monday night.

It wasn’t actually my first ever yoga class, but it was my first class with a boyfriend and in a real studio dedicated only to yoga.  I might say it was my first foray into what is now a life practice (I no longer practice Kundalini however).

Kundalini focuses a lot on different styles of breath work and chanting.  We did a lot of this to start our class off and the asana part of the practice came after.  Our teacher was a heavy set guy who worked in finance and commuted from New Jersey to Connecticut every weekday and taught yoga on Monday nights.  He practiced along with us.

While his intentions were good, it often felt like the class was something he needed just as much, if not more than us.  We didn’t necessarily feel guided in our physical practice but  P and I were happy either way because we felt like we were discovering something new and it was also a chance to share an experience together.

Fast forward to 3 weeks later, our 3rd class.  P and I had become comfortable enough and had decided to position ourselves at the front of the class, at the foot of the teacher.  We were nearing the end of our practice where we had migrated to the floor; seated forward bends, and twists and bridge  when were instructed to stretch out our legs to the side for a wide seated forward bend.

Three things happened in one simultaneous moment; I exhaled (as instructed), extended my legs out to the side and farted.  It was one of those instances where there was no opportunity for contemplation, no warning, no time to think, no time to contract any muscles anywhere.  I was at the front of the class, I was with my boyfriend, I farted and it was audible.  There was no escape.  It was, THE FART HEARD ‘ROUND THE STUDIO and the only thing that equaled the sound was the muffled laughs behind me.

I have heard interviews with people, heroes, who have found themselves in dire situations and their entire decision making process and subsequent reaction happens in their mind in less than 30 seconds (I had only 3).  I decided to not ignore it and instead giggle – at myself – truth be told, I couldn’t help but do anything else.  I looked over at P on my left who wore a look of multiple reactions including; shock, dismay, contempt, admiration and pride who was holding back his laugh – because all boys laugh at farts, even if it comes from their girlfriend.

P and I lowered our heads and tried harder than we had in any awkward pose that night to suppress our laughter.  We were in our forward bend, but our upper backs were convulsing with the kind of childlike chuckling that bought wrath from a school teacher.  We were not embarrassed, we were just thoroughly amused.  The teacher, who hadn’t quite caught on that we had indeed quickly moved out of feeling embarrassed, chose to offer ‘reassurance’ publicly and for a long time.

“These things happen, no need to feel embarrassed about it”….um, thanks but we’re fine, not embarrassed.  “It’s just a natural rhythm of the body, it happens to everyone, just normal bodily functions”…..Yep, got it, can we just move on?…”Wind goes up, and wind comes down and it’s important to not pay attention to it, no need to get embarrassed”…Ok, now I am embarrassed, let’s get on with it.

P and I realized we needed to calm down to get the class moving again so took a deep breath and stopped laughing, we were back in our drishti – moving on.  Our breath became more more rhythmic, and attention was now directed into our ‘spirit’.  We were in the moment, the past was gone…. What fart?  We moved to the next pose and…….in an instant that couldn’t be written better in a comedy film……the teacher farted.

Om Shanti Farti.

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