Ask the Yogi: Rumbling Tummy

gassy sheep

Q: There is no polite way to put it. Sometimes I pass gas when I do yoga. It is really embarrassing and I want to stop. What can I do?

A: Rest assured this is not an uncommon problem in yoga even though it is something rarely talked about. Hopefully everyone is just polite about it and goes on as if nothing happened. That is what I recommend that you do. We are humans. We pass gas. In fact, some of the yoga poses go by the name of ‘wind releasing pose’ – therefore it is almost like we are supposed to “break wind” if we want to be historically accurate yogis.

I can understand how you might feel embarrassed though. Especially if your intestinal utterance was rather loud or unfortunately odorous. As a yoga instructor I make it a personal rule to ignore any body noises coming from my students except for sounds of pain. I also typically keep a fan running in the yoga room to help dissipate any ‘odors’. Sometimes a gassy student will apologize, especially if the room was particularly quiet and their toot was particularly loud. A quick little ‘oops, sorry’ should be all that is needed. No need to make a formal or extended statement. If however you are a comedian and can say something hilarious, well, we all need a good laugh. By the way, in case anyone was wondering. The only person who should say anything funny about a fart is the person who created it. If they say nothing, you say nothing. That is the unspoken rule.

Now if the matter is not just an occasional thing and more of an intestinal Morse code with not only frequent sounds but lots of “bouquet” – we need to talk. Not only are you potentially disrupting the class, but you body is telling you something and you need to pay attention. Incomplete digestion and fermentation of food causes most intestinal gas. Not only can it lead to passing a lot of gas it can also lead to intestinal pain. If you have a lot of gas then you are likely eating something that disagrees with you.

Foods that cause intestinal gas are typically from the carbohydrate family. We all know about beans, but some people also have trouble with cabbage family plants and wheat products. Eggs may not cause a lot of gas but their sulfurous smell can peel paint. A diet diary can really help you notice what foods seem to be more of a problem. Try an elimination diet that removes the suspected foods for at least a week. If you experience less gas then you are on the right track. Avoid those foods within 24 hours of your yoga class and you will not be as much of a trumpet.

beanoSome people get relief of intestinal gas by using probiotics or digestive enzymes. One such digestive aid goes by the name of Beano. This product is taken prior to eating the offending foods and may help you reduce gas in response to beans, broccoli, wheat and more.

Remember too that intestinal gas can also be a symptom of certain medical issues. If you have excessive gas and changes to your diet are not controlling it, consult with your physician for some help.

Do you have a question for Ask the Yogi? Email to julie@jbyrdyoga.com

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