by Nikki Gloudeman
It always happens during Warrior One pose. There I am, happily Downward Dog-ing, when the instructor begins the directive I know all too well—and have come to fear.
“Now, move your foot up to the front of the mat . . . ”
Oh god. No. Please no.
” . . . and turn your body.”
It’s OK, it’ll be OK, I can DO THIS.
“Lift your arms and bend your legs . . .”
IT’S HAPPENING. IT’S HAPPENING.
“Go into Warrior One.”
Psssh, psh, psh
(Tighten your ass, make it stop . . . )
Psh psh psh psshh
(OK, OK, at least it’s over now)
(Shit . . . )
Welcome to my life as a new yogi—and specifically, a new yogi who has so far learned one salient fact about this ancient meditative practice: It makes me fart. A lot.
Actually, wait, it doesn’t just make me fart. It also makes me shake like unset Jello, sweat like a hog in the summertime, and, on many occasions, expose my elevated butt crack to total strangers.
Isn’t yoga supposed to be graceful? Am I not supposed to be connecting with inner peace or whatever? And if these are the aims, why the hell am I farting so much?
In other words: What’s wrong with me?
For a long time, I simply refused to do yoga, a practice that—in my home turf of the Bay Area—is both obnoxiously ubiquitous and ubiquitously obnoxious, something akin to “trendy” sour beer or slow-pressed coffee that takes 15 goddamn minutes to prep. I love my crunchy home, I really do, but I’ve also taken to retaliating against some aspects of its crunchiness. Maybe I want coffee from a Kuerig machine that pops out a piping cup in one minute flat. Maybe I want my beer in a can, and for it to taste like beer. Maybe, similarly, I want to go for a run rather than press my forehead onto a sweat-infused floor, lift my legs to the heavens, and feign “namaste.”
But as happens with so many yoga defiers, the lure of the practice eventually got to me. Yes, it primarily got to me because my office offers a free weekly class, and you know, FREE! But there’s more to it than that. It also got to me because, for a long time, I’ve secretly coveted being one of those girls. You know, a yoga girl—that lithe and lean woman who walks down the street in a Lululemon ensemble with a fresh mat tucked beneath her arm, looking at once pretentious and somehow ethereal.
It’s important to inform you here of how little I naturally share with said type of woman. I am a size 12-14. I like to laugh harder than anyone else at my own inappropriate jokes. My favorite clothing item is a pair of worn-out pajama jeans with a busted hot-pink drawstring. When I walk into a room of skinny, peaceful, delicate ladies with their legs twisted behind their backs, it’s kind of like a Dodge Ram pickup plowing through a field of spring flowers.
It’s also important to understand that, as much as I claim to embrace my less-than-feminine qualities, I also at times abhor them. A few months ago, I learned my partner’s very serious ex is something of a yoga master; ever since, I’ve been unable to dispel the image of her delicate little body suspended in an effortless, sweatless plank.
Every time I fart during class, I consider how she probably never does.
I hate her. I yearn to be her.
For a time, my yoga-related self-loathing rendered me in a state of perpetual child’s pose (the one position I’ve completely mastered), hiding from the world and all its relative graces I can never possess. But then, when preparing for this story, I casually chatted with a couple colleagues about my gaseousness, and learned something that would change me irrevocably: Apparently, everyone farts in yoga.
“Dude, that happens to me all the time,” chatted one colleague.
“That happens to everyone, and anyone who says differently is LYING,” remarked another.
Both these respondents, I should note, are women who have come to yoga class with me, and are much much better at it than me and much much more in line with what one would typically envision as the lithe, flexible “yoga girl.”
It was then that I had the first epiphany of my short yogi career, one that didn’t require 10 straight minutes of listening to myself breathe: Maybe I’ll never be lithe and lean. Maybe I’ll always show my ass crack to unsuspecting classmates. Maybe I’ll brand every last shirt I wear to class with an armpit stain that never comes out in the wash.
But at least now I’ve learned that farting makes me not unlike the women I’ve always wanted to be—and instead utterly at one with them. I find this strangely comforting.