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The Yoga of Farting

I recently took an early morning flight where everyone was on edge. In front of me sat a grumpy and tired woman.

I reached into the magazine holder behind her seat and jerked it just slightly. She turned and gave me the look of death. It was friggin 6:30am. I’d woken up just like she had at 4am and I was not overjoyous to sit in a dirty plane with boogers stuck to the seatbelt clip and grime on every other page of my in-flight magazine.

But, I am a yoga teacher and I would not say anything to this angry lady.

When we took off, the angry lady in front reclined and was basically lying on my lap as I munched on the in-flight snacks. Given the close quarters, I was basically crunching nuts in her ear. Again, she turned around and glared at me.

What the hell?! I thought. I wanted to give an earful to this lady who was really starting to piss me off. She doesn’t want me to grab a magazine. I can’t chew my snacks. Am I breathing too loud?!

I tried to doze off but it seems like whenever you take a nap on a plane, you’re awakened by a cloud of flatulence permeating the air. A side note on airplane flatulence: When the guy next to you polishes off his tuna sandwich he picked up at the airport (p-hew!) and orders a spicy tomato drink, you might as well turn to him and say, “Look buddy, I know you’re gonna fart so let’s not pretend we don’t know where it’s coming from once it happens.”

So I sat there fuming and thinking that everyone else flatulates on airplanes and everyone else flatulates in yoga class. Why do I always need to be Mister Nice Guy and save mine for private time?

Just then, the annoying lady’s seat broke, and she reclined even further into my lap. I tapped her shoulder, asking if she would please move up just a tad. She turned to me and said, “Touch me again and I’ll call the steward.”

And that was it. Having enjoyed a few beers the previous night and still polishing off my airline nuts, I had what some call the Dirty Elves stirring up a potent potion in my lowers. I’d never before thought of using flatulence as a matter of self-defense.  But I had been provoked, so I began my countdown.

7, 6, 5…

I did consider what the yogi gurus would think of my flatulating on this woman. Would I be showing disregard for ahimsa (which means “not causing harm to others”)? Nah, after all, flatulence isn’t really violent and it’s made naturally by my body.

4, 3, 2…

I had a random thought of the innocent victims in harm’s way when a bomb is dropped on an enemy target and the impact zone is worse than anticipated. Was this really the right thing to do?

1, 0…release.

The awkward two seconds passed and I closed my eyes like Han Solo did in Star Wars when he pushed the button and the Millennium Falcon prepared to accelerate to light speed…as if something powerful was about to kick in.

You know it’s bad when you can smell your own flatulence. At that very instant, I could smell my own and even I wanted to duck. And this lady was lying literally 18 inches from the payload bay. She was as close as I was to ground zero.


The angry lady jerked her seat to the upright position and turned to me with a look of horror that you might see in the eyes of one running from a tornado. The people all around leaned at the steepest possible angle away from me as if they were corn fields blasted in a crop circle formation.

Unsure of what caused the sudden commotion, the stewardess ran over to our section to see if someone was having a heart attack. Unfortunately, she ran right into the blast zone and literally buckled to her knees. It was a sight to see and a scent for the ages…albeit The Dark Ages.

The fellow passengers were barely clinging to consciousness in the invisible sensory thunderstorm that was my flatulence.

After a minute or so, the scent subsided but for the rest of the flight, the angry lady in front of me kept her seat in the upright position. Damn straight! My plan was triumphant and the moment was a turning point in my tolerance for flatulence.


I’m a firm believer that if you dish it, you’ve got to be able to take it.  So I’ve changed my intolerant ways toward flatulence.

Here’s the way I now see it. One’s physical reaction to a pungent fart is very similar to one’s reaction upon encountering a type of music or a nemesis or an entire race for whom one has no tolerance. There’s a physical shutting down that is a confused sense of protection against the unknown.

Next time you are blasted with a pungent fart, treat it like a challenging yoga pose. Breathe, relax, surrender, and train yourself to be more accepting when you’d otherwise shut down.

A Zen proverb says, “Nothing on earth (not even the worst fart) can overcome an absolutely non-resistant person.”


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