I went to a yoga class yesterday which reminded me of a bad experience many years back when I was struggling to get pregnant and trying to “Just relax,” which was the going advice for women like me, diagnosed with unexplained infertility.
I wrote about it in the first edit of my book but it probably won’t make it into the final version so I thought I’d share in case there are others out there with embarrassing yoga stories…
Here it is:
Driving up to the studio, I noticed a familiar feeling of anxiety in my gut that I could never quite pin down. Was I anxious because I might never be able to have a child? Or because my neighbor just gave me a dirty look? Or because my sister-in-law didn’t invite me to her barbecue? I fixated on these questions as I walked up to the studio. The space was small but clean, the floors a shiny oak, the walls a muted shade of vanilla.
“Welcome,” the receptionist smiled, her dreadlocks pulled back in a ponytail.
“Are you new?” she asked.
“Yes,” I answered.
“Great, you can put your personal items in the cubbies over there.” She pointed to a small room where people in yoga clothes were coming in and out.
“Thanks,” I headed in to find a cubby. Then I followed the others into the studio and unfurled my yoga mat. Everything went fine for the first 40 minutes of the class. That is, until the instructor asked us to line up along the wall.
“If you are on your cycle, go ahead and leave your legs against the wall.”
Many of the women stayed there, legs against the wall, butt tucked into the corner. But I needed to “just relax” damnit so I continued to the next part of the exercise.
“When you’re ready, go ahead and gently walk your feet up the wall and use your hands to lift your head off the ground.” The instructor spoke in a gentle, sing song way. “Your arms should support your body weight. The wall will ensure you don’t fall. See how you do balancing on your head.”
As I walked my legs up the wall and positioned myself into a tentative head stand I congratulated myself for not taking the easy way out like the women around me. “They can’t all be on their periods,” I thought smugly, sneaking self-righteous glances at them.
And then a very large gush of wind entered quickly through my vagina. I tried to stop it by squeezing as hard as I could, but this was futile. Even though I was starting to feel light in the head I knew I couldn’t make any quick moves. I looked at the ladies on each side of me, their legs against the wall. Did they know something I didn’t? I no longer judged them, I envied them.
Slowly I pushed, trying to expel the air without making a sound. I spent a few more seconds pushing until I was satisfied the coast was clear and then walked my feet down without making any fast moves, following the rest of the class back to the middle of the floor for our final stretches.
As I sat on my mat in lotus holding my feet and bending my upper torso over my body, the rest of the air from what must have been the innermost depths of my vagina made its violent way out of my lower torso unleashing itself onto the entire room of unassuming yogis. I froze hoping that if I didn’t make a move, they wouldn’t notice it was me. Then an aftershock of air boomed out of me in one long winded fart. When I thought it was done, I let out another loud boom as if my body wanted to punctuate the end.
There was nothing I could do but wait it out as I hid my beet red face in my stretch. The room was eerily silent. Aside from a few involuntary glances my way, everyone pretended nothing was happening. I wished someone would laugh or the teacher would say something to mollify my embarrassment like, “No more head stands for you, girlfriend!” I have never wanted to flee a building so badly. But I stayed until the end of shavasana wishing I really was dead. Back in the changing room no one made eye contact with “the girl who farts from her vagina.” I might as well have been wearing a scarlet F on my face.
The humiliation of that hour-long class did take my mind off things. I drove home reliving the previous 30 minutes over and over until something about the weather or the song on the radio or the smell of the car triggered my mind to spin again, wondering if I’d ever have a baby or what I did to annoy my neighbor or who went to my sister-in-law’s barbecue. I drove the rest of the way home, a humiliated mess in a state of panic because I still couldn’t just relax.