Throwback Thursday: Dear Dubious Drishti
As director of marketing and communications for this incredible small business, I was allowed to get up to a lot of nonsense in the newsletter, including a yoga advice column. Eventually I will repurpose this stuff into my self-help blockbuster, The Universe is Just Not that into You, but until then, please to enjoy this rigorously researched (I really did hear from a lot of yoga teachers)* column on farting.
Dear Ms Drishti,
I just started practicing Mysore-style Ashtanga yoga and I really love it! My only problem is that I feel like the adjustments are a little too aggressive. I'm struggling to make the binds in the Marichyasanas (well, at least C and D). Unless I'm really crafty and time it for someone else’s dropbacks, my teacher twists me so hard during C that I can't help it. I fart. Loud. Blazing Saddles-loud. How do I talk to my teacher about this? The first time it happened I apologized and he just brushed it off. Now it’s happened so many times, I’m almost worried that he’s doing it on purpose. I dread Marichyasana C. How can I get him to stop without humiliating us both?
Not to toot my own horn, but if farting in yoga were jazz, I’d be Louis Armstrong. When I started practicing, I was so gaseous (think cloud nebula) that in every adjustment a loud sigh rose from the vicinity of my root chakra. That was before my poor digestive system was warped and smoothed by the Hulk-hands of Ashtanga. “Tapas” took on a whole new meaning—the breath of fire does not always start in the lungs. To their credit, my teachers never flinched or seemed surprised. True, some of them have since admitted to having no sense of smell, but I think the primary reason they can be so mellow with a face full of methane is that they just don't care. They don't. When your teacher brushed off your apology, it wasn't to save your feelings, it was utterly sincere. In an informal poll of yoga teachers I know, one of them even used the word “honored” to describe her response to a client's sudden release, because it meant they were “really giving themselves to the twist.” Bombs away, Mal!
However, if you and your teacher are not the only ones in the studio, you might alter that strategy. To remain fearless in the face of Marichyasana C (and Navasana and Garba Pindasana and Pasasana), remember, there's a reason that the traditional Ashtangis practice first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. Try not to eat anything for at least three hours before you practice, because even if your teacher doesn’t care, your fellow yogis may not want to be “honored.”
*My research consisted of
- Talking to my friends.
- Asking if there were any yoga teachers in the audience during a First Friday Follies show in Oakland's venerable Stork Club (guess what? There were many!) and having them indicate, by a show of hands, how often they were farted upon and how they felt about it. Did I mention, I'm a doctor?