AF In Yoga Classes?

How do people especially teachers deal with AF - Acute Flatulence during classes? This is serious post before anyone thinks what the heck.

At local class I was attending, a woman started coming to it that would bottom burp violently in a sustained manner during the class especially during transition to certain poses. Other class members some laughed whilst others were more stunned and thought rather dusgusting behaviour but gradually over next few weeks other class members would distance themselves from her as the smell which I experienced first hand was often like rotten eggs and tear gas combined, really foul and a thick pungent smell that hanged around for some minutes after each episode, worse in a warm hall with not great air conditioning.

This went on for few weeks, eventually the rest of the class all complained to the Instructor, he was very reluctant to say anything to the woman as it was just plain embarrassing to do so but when other class members said they would be looking for another class if this women was not removed from class or at least spoken to, he took action. After a class he asked her to wait and speak with him in private, later he told us he just came out with it andsaid other class members were complaining about the audible bottom burping disturbing their Yoga practice and the smell was putting them off. The lady in question apologised profusely and said due to stomach problems and excess acid her Doctor had said she had Acute Flatulence, and that it may stay long term or may go there was no certainty either way, despite tablets from the Doctor she still had outbreaks especially during lot of movement such as exercise. The woman did not come back to the class of her own accord and was fine with that, she was not angry with him or anything.

What is the best way to deal professionally as a Yoga Instructor with such issues? Are there set guidelines. I’m hoping to teach in the future but really would not have known what to do if it had happened in my class. Or even things such as someone having strong body odour, you speak to someone and they get angry with you as I’m sure some would, it could also generate negative publicity for your classes i.e. someone saying ‘I got thrown out their Yoga class for body odour personal hygiene’.

Friend in London that teaches, had few teenagers that would come into her class and delibarately do as they termed them ‘Rattlers’ - rattling flatulence off mats or hard surfaces to create a rattling type sound. One of their friends who watched the class told her after it they were doing ‘Rattlers’ (their term) on purpose, and she was initially bemused as to what a Rattler was until the friend explained it. They never came back to classes, only attending 3 and not even consecutive weeks, they must have just thought it a laugh to do so then got bored with it and moved on to other things.

Only other incident I’ve heard of was when someone bottom burped aggressively during a class, was too embarrassed to apologise say sorry or excuse me and they actually pointed at another member of the class and blamed it on them, this creates a terrible atmosphere especially in a Yoga class when people are lying and blaming things on another person.

What a great opportunity for the practice of pratyahara.

As a teacher, I would speak with the student about their diet and be as supportive of them in their journey to heal as I could. I would then speak to the other students regarding pratyahara (and include practices that help in its development), how one must find peace in the marketplace, and that each of us has ills that manifest differently and to thus look deep within ourselves for compassion and acceptance. I would hopefully do this in a manner where I wasn’t singling out the student with gas, but instead in a general tone.

That is really embarrassing! I’ve never heard of such a problem. I think if it happens once in a while, it’s just natural and should be ignored. But in the rare case that someone has a continuous problem with flatulence in class… I would have to compare the situation to what my teacher trainer said about smokers. If a disturbing smell is always there and is making other people uncomfortable, even making them consider leaving the class, then it may be time to gently and privately talk to the smelly person to see if there’s anything they can do to be… less smelly. It’s unfortunate and very rare that someone would actually be asked to leave the class, but if they are making a disturbance every time they attend, it might have to be done, but not in so many words. As in the case of the woman you mentioned, upon being confronted about personal smelliness, the person is likely to not return of their own accord. Hopefully they can understand and will return when their issue is under control.

[QUOTE=trinley;56004]Hopefully they can understand and will return when their issue is under control.[/QUOTE]
What if it’s the practice of yoga that helps get that issue under control?

I love the term “bottom burping”! Much better than farting. I have to remember that.

In all my years of teaching, I never had to deal with that issue until recently. And I just very calmly said, “And yoga is great for digestion”. Everyone got a chuckle and quickly resumed our practice. Unfortunately for me, I was assisting that student in plough pose.

But as David stated, discussing with the student diet and in addition to that ask that the student not eat at least 2-3 hours before class. And by all means have them avoid Happy Baby.

[QUOTE=David;56005]What if it’s the practice of yoga that helps get that issue under control?[/QUOTE]

That’s true. I do think yoga can help get the issue under control. But what about all the other people in the class? If it’s such a problem that others actually stop coming, they’re missing their practice too. Each of those people has an issue that they’re trying to get under control as well.

[QUOTE=trinley;56021]That’s true. I do think yoga can help get the issue under control. But what about all the other people in the class? If it’s such a problem that others actually stop coming, they’re missing their practice too. Each of those people has an issue that they’re trying to get under control as well.[/QUOTE]
You’re absolutely correct that the others have a right as well. It’s a delicate issue for sure. But I believe in my heart that a creative, supportive, wise yoga teacher can create the space for all to practice under such circumstances and maybe even allow everyone to benefit from it.

Off the top of my head, if it IS that distracting for some people and my teachings I alluded to above weren’t helping, then when that student showed up I might burn incense at the start of the class and/or have some quiet background music and position them closest to the speakers. Teachers have to adapt and be creative, I feel there’s always a solution as well as an opportunity to learn and grow from every situation. When I hear of students being turned away or worse, it breaks my heart.

Those are good ideas. If the student is not embarrassed by their owning pooting, I guess they wouldn’t be embarassed by the instructor’s efforts to cover up their pooting. I like your outlook.

I have been diagnosed with something called Chronic Lymphocytic Colitis, a form of IBD. While I am lucky in that I don’t have any of the symptoms talked about in this thread, I am a member of a support forum where there are countless people that do. Millions of people have IBD or IBS And sure enough, yoga helps them out a tremendous amount. I say this because I beg the yoga teachers and students alike to create the space for people to heal. Turning them away or acting in a manner that makes them even more self-conscious of an already terrible disease is a tragedy.

The awareness of this topic is also a good reminder for those lucky enough to be able to ‘design’ their own studio.

It is a very good idea to have windows at either end of the yoga room, and if possible all along one wall if possible. That way the students can practice in natural light, and it is easy to regulate temperature by opening windows for fresh air, or closing blinds to keep out direct sunshine etc.

Failing natural windows, one could have installed extractors (quiet with fans external to the building if possible) and some other vents for fresh air intake. Heat exchangers a good idea depending on the temperature of the country one lives in.

I think David’s point is the most valid that we should always try to make people feel comfortable within their bodies… and within their whole self… and if i had to choose between one person being comfortable within themselves and had to have 5 surrounding people dealing with their ‘reactions’ to the smell, i would prefer to allow the people deal with their reactions while making some supportive suggestions or gentle remarks to help both parties.

I don’t believe this is the same as smoking or someone having very smelly feet in the class.

But i do agree that it is a sensitive issue and the needs (and sensitivities and present apparent intolerance) of the whole class also have to be taken into account.

If it is a reoccurring issue, it is a good idea for the teacher to ‘read up’ on the area… especially with the conditions that David has mentioned (which i had not heard about) and then choose the right time to talk directly to the sufferer after the class privately.

Best Wishes,

Well, I think it’s similar to smokers. Nicotine addiction is an ailment as well, and practicing yoga can help them overcome it. Smelly feet, however, can easily be fixed by washing.

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