I love shoulder stand. I really do, I swear. But if I’m going to do shoulder stand in class, I better be feeling really confident, because I know I’m going to queef all over the freaking place as soon as I try to come out of it. Yup, I admitted it. I’m a yoga queefer. In fact, I’m an RYQ—a Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga Queefer.
Okay, all joking aside, this has to be one of the most mortifying things that can happen to you in class, right? I’ve been practicing for eight years and mostly, I’ve just gotten good at playing it off. It still happens damn near every time I’m in class. And aside from learning to live with it, there are some things you can do to stop it.
What is a queef?
It’s a fart. Out of your vagina. Also known as a “vart.”
Oh no! Why is this happening to me?
Because Deepak Chopra hates you. Just kidding, just kidding! Any kind of inversion—bridge, shoulder stand, handstand, and even downward dog—can trigger this mortifying event. Christine Binnendyk, creator of the Ageless Pilates and Barre Fitness workout programs, breaks it down like this:
“Any time you lift your hips higher than your ribcage, you’re in a position that can draw air into your vagina — the movement of your organs sliding toward your head causes a vacuum. When you add an inhale, you turn up the suction power. Add a belly scoop and you’ve turned up the suction power again.
Now that you have a vagina full of air, any folding action or compression in your mid-section will expel it.” Which explains why transitioning from shoulder stand to plow makes you sound off like a foghorn.
How do I make it stop?
Rebelle Society writes brilliantly about activating mula bandha and using the perineal floor to try to stop this before it starts. Unfortunately, no one can totally close off their vagina (no matter how one may wish). So you may still end up letting one (or five) loose during class (because they NEVER come one at a time).
Binnendyk explains a relatively simple trick for saving your dignity in class: exhale as you lift your hips. The action naturally engages your abdominal muscles, so there’s no need to “suck it in.” Once you’re there, Binnendyk says, you can continue to breathe normally.
Terrified to ever go back to class? I get it. Read about the Five Stages of Queefing In Yoga Class. I promise, it doesn’t end with you dying of embarrassment.
And keep in mind—we all know what’s up. I promise if you ever queef next to me in yoga or Pilates class, I will nod knowingly and maybe even high-five you. It’s just air, and it happens. It’s a good time to practice dharana (focus) and pratyahara (staying in the moment and on your mat). It’s an even better time to practice compassion and humor. Take a page from your vagina and let it go.
Photo by Kanji Photography.