Should you Pass Gas in Yoga?

I did it

I passed gas in yoga. Multiple times. Usually I'm able to hold it in. But, when I'm encouraged to twist into and hold my body in positions for an extended period of time, well, it becomes much harder to keep it in. Or, I'm just totally relaxed and uninhibited: I didn't even know I had gas until after the fact.

New Zealand study

So I went on to see whether there are any health detriments to keeping gas in. According to the New Zealand Medical Journal that looked especially at frequent flatulence while riding on planes, holding back can cause multiple health problems, including bloating, indigestion, heartburn, and in some cases, even pain. Wow, a habit of keeping it in isn't good for you, is it?

The essence of yoga

When I think about the practice of yoga, I think of staying in the moment and being present to whatever shows up. I'm reminded to be non-judgmental and to develop compassion for my mind, body and soul and whatever they might need in the moment. I'm encouraged to be in tune with my body and be curious about what it can do and would want to do, while stretching it to a place of discomfort, but never strain.

So which one is it? Do I "stretch" my body and keep gas in, all the while be stressed about it? Or do I compassionately release it in service to my body, though not so much to my neighbors?

Holding both

Now I don't mean holding gas, but rather, recognizing that it's both important to let your body feel the relief AND be kind to your yoga community. How do you do that? When you pass gas in yoga, remind yourself that it's a human condition and keeping moving. This may sound strange, but acknowledge that your body has that need and your body is naturally wanting to let it go because it's not good to hold it in.

And as a courtesy to your neighbors, stay away from beans, cruciferous vegetables, and the alike before class. One time I had homemade broccoli soup before yoga. Bad idea. I've also learned to eat a small meal and at least an hour before class. My body has taught me if it doesn't come out as gas, it'll find another way out.

Putting it all together

To pass gas is to be human. Doing so is letting your neighbors know that it is okay for them to also let it go. I remember one time when I heard a loud phhhhhhrt from across the yoga studio. It took everything in me to not approach the nice gentleman after class and say, “You farted? Me too!”

Other than gas, are there things you need help letting go? I'm here!


Ada Pang, MS, LMFT is the proud owner of People Bloom Counseling, a Redmond counseling practice in WA. She loves helping people live compassionate and fulfilled lives. She enjoys yin, slow flow and power vinyasa yoga and her favorite pose is still Shavasana.