Not long ago, Jenny Young was lying on the floor in her yoga class, limber and relaxed, when her teacher Paul instructed the class in a move called the Plow Pose.
“Basically,” Ms. Young said, “you’re on your back, and you bring your legs over your head until you can, um … almost kiss your own butt, you know?”
The pose started out fine for Ms. Young. “It felt good,” she said. Then, as Paul was coming around to adjust her pose, the unspeakable happened: Ms. Young passed gas. Loudly. Three times in a row.
“No one said anything,” Ms. Young said. “It was like stunned silence. But everyone was looking at me, twisting around from under their legs. I could see them. And then after class, I heard one woman say, ‘God, I feel sorry for her.’ And her friend was like, ‘Well I don’t. You’re not supposed to eat anything before class.’
“But I didn’t eat before class!” Ms. Young said. “I swear .”
Soon afterwards, Ms. Young-who works as a sales executive-decided to switch yoga studios. On this day, she was clad in a gray sweatsuit, on her way to Integral Yoga studio on West 13th Street to see if it might be “more accepting-maybe less judgmental.”
Before visiting Integral Yoga, Ms. Young ducked into a nearby Duane Reade. “I’m not taking any chances this time,” she said. She twisted open a bottle of Alka-Seltzer Gas-Relief liquid gel caps and popped one in her mouth. In her other hand was a pack of Rolaids.
Miguel, a clerk at the store who would not give his last name, said he sees lots of what he called “yoga ladies” stocking up on intestinal-gas medication.
“Yeah, they come in here with their designer sweatpants and, like, T-shirts, and they’re like, ‘I have a yoga class in a few minutes and I need something to make sure I don’t have any gas,'” Miguel said. “I don’t really know what works for that, but, you know, I tell them Alka-Seltzer is O.K. Sometimes they get two or three different kinds. I think that’s kind of weird, but I never do yoga, so what do I know?”
Boris Pisman, a teacher and manager at Integral Yoga, said the subject of passing gas comes up from time to time among his students. “A couple of people have mentioned to me in the past that they were paranoid about it,” he said. “Once in a while it just happens, in an inverted position especially. By bringing the knees to the chest, you are pressing your abdominal organs. You are also massaging or squeezing. You put pressure on your stomach and on your colon, so when you bend, a certain amount of air escapes.”
It’s nothing to be ashamed of, Mr. Pisman said. “In a way, yoga-being a holistic science-encourages people to let go,” he said. “If one needs to pass the gas, they should be able to do it. Chances are they are embarrassed or feel uncomfortable because of their previous conditioning. I definitely don’t object.”
Mr. Pisman even acknowledged that he occasionally teaches a position called the Wind-Relieving Pose. The idea here is apparently to ameliorate gas pain. “Basically, a person lying on the floor bends the knees and brings the knees toward the chest, then wraps his or her arms around the knees, inhales, holds the breath for 10 seconds, and brings the forehead towards the knees. Then they will release the head onto the floor and release the knees, straighten the legs, and lie quietly for a few seconds.” If the proverbial wind is not relieved, Mr. Pisman said, the move can be repeated. “It often takes a few times,” he added. “Then you should feel better.”
This posture was deemed “disgusting” by Beth Stein, a former dot-com executive who was smoking a cigarette near the entrance to Be Yoga downtown. “I can’t understand why a bunch of normal adult strangers would want to sit in a room together and fart,” she said. “I’m going to try this one time, but if somebody tells me to break wind in class, there is no fucking way. I don’t care. I’m going to get up and leave.”
Ms. Stein’s friend, Sissy Lawson-a sometime yoga practitioner who recently moved here from California-said she had never “released wind” during a yoga class. “But I have come close,” Ms. Lawson said. “Actually, I would say maybe three times a class at least. My guess is, if you go into a given class, like everyone is exhausting themselves holding in farts. Maybe not 100 percent of the time. But enough that it disrupts the concentration. And it’s like, if someone does fart, you think to yourself, ‘I’m glad it wasn’t me,’ but also, ‘I wish I could have gotten some relief, too!'”
Dear Bruce Springsteen,
I read that you’re making another big comeback, with a new album out about 9/11. Well, that’s just great ! Because that’s what we all need: A Bruce album about 9/11 will help with the whole healing process, even if it’s all a little downbeat. This will bring closure. Hope it really sells!
See, the truth is I’m not a big Bruce Springsteen fan. I’m sure this doesn’t really bother you since everyone else in New York seems to be, or feels they have to be or they’re an asshole. Well, I’d rather be an asshole than pretend to enjoy your music, pal.
I used to think maybe if I read that legendary Time cover story about you or took a course on you at N.Y.U., I could understand you and your amazing popularity. Maybe if I spent some time in Asbury Park, I’d get it. After high school, I spent the summer in Mantoloking on the Jersey Shore, and you know what? It really sucked. My two pals and I ran out of money fast in two weeks, and all we had in the fridge were Kraft singles and beer. We got jobs handing out change at an arcade on the Point Pleasant Boardwalk. I fooled around with two or three homely Jersey girls but did not get laid. My friend caught crabs from a 15-year-old. We had no money. No A.C., either ….
That’s all I remember, Bruce, and let me tell you, it wasn’t anything to write home about, let alone write a song about.
Here’s what pops into my mind when I think about “the Boss,” and none of it is good. For starters, there’s Clarence Clemons. He’s not “the man,” or whatever you call your saxophone player-he’s a goofball. The song “Streets of Philadelphia”: good cause, crappy tune. Blue jeans: Because of you, I haven’t worn them since 1984, around the time of Born in the U.S.A. … which had that song on it about how you “wake up with the sheets soaking wet / and a freight train running through the middle of my head.” Not my favorite masturbation song. And what was up with not letting Reagan play the friggin’ title track on the campaign trail? Before that, you put out a beloved album called Nebraska . Nebraska ? I’m from the state right under it, and I still don’t get what you were doing.
What else? Courteney Cox in that “Dancing in the Dark” video. When Adam Sandler parodied this on SNL , it wasn’t done affectionately, I’m afraid. That video is an even worse memory than Billy Joel’s “Pressure,” or any of Haircut 100’s.
I remember a photograph of you in Rolling Stone partying it up with Sting. That’s when I first started wondering about you. Then you married Julianne Phillips. Hmmm .
Look, I’ve seen you on Charlie Rose a few times and in that VH1 History of Rock & Roll special, and it’s a sorry sight. You’re not funny. You’re delusional. You don’t even have a substance-abuse problem to blame it on.
Let’s see, that “spontaneous” preacher bit on your recent HBO concert special was simply ludicrous and embarrassing, not at all hip or cool or funny. Your fans are mostly pathetic (and I worry about writing that; I might as well be writing about how the firemen suck and “long live Osama bin Laden!”).
But so what if you play for four hours? Give me Elvis Costello for 20 minutes. Seriously, I’d rather see John Stamos in Cabaret again than see you at the Garden (pronounced “duh Gow -din”).
“We Are the World,” remember that? Take a look at that video, why don’t you: You look really silly in it. Why do you always wear boots? Bruce, you don’t need boots. You’re not working construction, O.K.? And why are you always sweating, even in an air-conditioned studio-is that from a spray bottle in the back of your perfectly imperfect jeans?
And to all you “big Springsteen fans” out there: Take your Bic lighters and ….