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Jessica’s Blog: A Month of Ashtanga

Jessica Young
Written by Jessica Young

Week Three Highlights

Day 17

yoga matI was depressed this morning on the mat. I sat with my head in my hands not really knowing what to do. I didn’t want to practice yoga. I didn’t want to do anything.

Then I remembered what Angela Jamison said about the practice: it’s always there. It’s there when you’re sick or sad or lonely, just like it’s there when you’re triumphant or jubilant. In that way, it’s kind of like a friend, like someone or something you commune with daily. I don’t know if it’s a comfort to you, but I suppose it’s a kind of touchstone, one thing in our lives that isn’t variable.

I did a little of the body work that my therapist gave me after practice this morning. I don’t feel any better. I feel—dark. Bewildered. Ha! I feel tamasic! I don’t know what will happen today, or tomorrow, but I know for better or for worse the practice is always there.

Day 19

So I want to get serious for a minute and talk about something important. It’s something every woman should feel free to discuss, and so few of us do. It affects all of us: our mothers and sisters, our grandmothers and daughters; and ignorance of this subject has brought pain to millions across the country.

embarrassed2That’s right, I’m talking about queefing.

I queefed in Mysore class today. Loudly. Usually it’s not that big a deal. I’ve queefed at home before, usually in and out of shoulderstand. I wonder if it just means that I’m not engaging mula bandha. But I was okay with it, because it was happening in the dark solitary confines of my daily home practice.

embarrasmnetBut oh, no. This morning there were several musical notes from my crotch. I’m the newest practitioner in my class by a lot, and I’m the only woman of color, so I feel pretty conspicuous to begin with. I do my best, and my practice is where it is, but oh man, I hate the queefing in class. I’m always embarrassed.

I don’t want to hate it. I want to think that my body’s naturally eliminating air, and this is a fact of your body’s behavior. The Primary series is called cleansing—yoga chikitsa—for a reason. I think what I’m wishing is that someone would say something about that in class.

I’ve never been in a yoga class—style, size, location all notwithstanding—where the teacher has been permissive, for lack of a better word, about queefing and farting. The closest thing I’ve ever heard is when Neal Pollack wrote in his yoga memoir about farting in class and dissolving into giggles. In my class practice, no one’s ever blown the seal on queefing. The teacher who announced that it was A-Okay to queef in her class, that person would be my hero.

Seeking some compassion for my vag fart, I took to the Internet, where I found lots of comments from women who were like me, mortified by their queefing, and wanted info on how to avoid it. Perhaps I shouldn’t have been so disappointed by our collective digital lack of compassion for ourselves. Goodnews is, for all of the women who, like me, were mortified and disgusted by their bodies and their frustrations, there were almost as many sisters encouraging us to laugh it off, reminding us that it happens to all of us.

This month-long experiment has coincided quite neatly with a class I’ve been taking on the Bhagavad Gita. The Gita’s like a cross between the Bible and the Odyssey: it’s both an ancient text sacred for millions of people and it’s (a selection of) a timeless and enduring epic poem, in fact the world’s longest, called the Mahabarata. One of its themes—it talks about yoga a lot—talks about how much we should work toward our truth but not attach to the fruits of our work. So often when I read that idea, I think about positive fruit: strength, flexibility, success, money. I never think about fruit that we might not want, like, well queefing. But maybe this is what Krishna means, too, when he talks about this. Don’t be attached to anything that is borne out of your practice, whether it’s a slim stomach, followers on your Instagram account or vaginal farts.

So to obsess about it, others’ reaction to it, etc. sounds like attachment to me. Great. I’ll let it go; and maybe practice a bit more mula bandha.

About the author

Jessica Young

Jessica Young

Jessica Young has a degree from Northwestern University and an MFA from Columbia College Chicago. She’s performed her stories with 2nd Story, at the Mixed Roots Literary and Film Festival in LA, and she was recently a contributing blogger for WBEZ’s summer series, “Race Out Loud.” When she’s not writing or teaching, Jess enjoys yoga, gluten-free vegan cooking, and learning how women can take care of themselves and each other through healthy choices and practices.

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