Seeing as it's a practice built largely upon humility, yoga—be it in Bikram, Hatha, Yin, Ashtanga, or any other variance—can oftentimes be a bit, well, humiliating.
There are few things in life so humbling—so virtuous, so innocent, so unequivocally awe-inspiring—as seeing someone blow chunks coming out of camel pose. Or harnessing the present moment during crescent lunge, while your g-string tourniquets itself around your ass-crack. Nay, perhaps the truest, most authentic embodiment of ego-elimination exists in the passing seconds between falling out of dancer's pose and onto the floor, just as an extravagant flatulent symphony is released from your body, and branded into the minds of the dozens of people surrounding you.
Despite its seemingly serene reputation, there have been many victims to yoga's unforgivingly intense style and etiquette—from Siddhartha Guatama himself (probably), to Canadian rocker Matt Mays (confirmed).
But whether you accidentally puke, poo, or pop a boner during yoga—isn't that really what it's all about? (No). Isn't it about leaving your inhibitions at the door and letting your freak flag fly? (Also, no). The truth is yoga has been culturally appropriated by western society [Ed. note: white women please don't wear a thong to yoga] and turned it from a mindfulness exercise to a glute workout. But regardless of what brought you there the practice of yoga can lend itself to some pretty vulnerable moments, so I asked some people to indulge me.
Here are their stories.
[Insert Law and Order noise]
I spent an entire yoga class with my thong completely wedged up my ass because at one point I stretched just a little too deep. I was 14 at the time (and also with my mom), so I didn't [even] get any pleasure out of it. Maybe confusing pleasure, but that's about it. I've never had a thong experience like that since.
Yulanda Luka, 26
At the end of class, we normally lay in Savasana for a few minutes, and then after, the instructor will direct us to slowly get up and they'll say a few closing lines and indicate that class is over.
One time, the class ended and everyone was still lying on their mats, or just making their way out. I was one of the first to get up and walk over to put my block and strap away. As I'm making my way across the room, I slip on someone else's pool of sweat, right on my ass. I'm talking straight leg, foot-to-ceiling, right out from underneath me, kind of fall. Everyone in the room gasped and then went silent.
I survived though, and the instructor made light of the situation by commenting on the amount of sweat on the floor and making sure I was OK.
I had been doing Moksha hot yoga for a few years and thought I'd try Bikram. I was told it was hotter and more intense. I had just gotten back from backpacking in Central America where I had picked up a bug, and I wasn't feeling the best, but went to a class anyway. Within the first five minutes, we started doing intense back bends and breathing exercises that really didn't agree with me. I scolded myself to hold it together and not wimp out. Sooner than later, I felt like I was going to get sick and went for the door. The instructor advised I stay and follow my breathing, clearly not knowing what was about to happen. All I remember is barfing up a milky protein shake at the front of the room, completely ruining everyone's peaceful state.
The staff were gracious enough to bring me a banana and some coconut water in the bathroom, telling me I could come back in when I was comfortable. Before the class, I had purchased an intro month for unlimited yoga. Safe to say I never went back. Ever.
During my third year of university, I finally took the plunge and tried hot yoga for the first time. My roommate at the time had been a veteran yogi and was at me to attend, so, I finally agreed. It was an afternoon class after an evening out on the town. Hydration levels were low, but confidence levels were still high.
As per all activities during university, several bong hits would be required before attending our session. We arrived early, but not early enough, as I had to place my mat at the front of the class and could feel the pressure from the eyes of the surrounding yogis on me as I struggled to roll out my mat and lay my towel down. After getting sorted, I was laying down and thought to myself, "this is way hotter than I expected," and how I'm way too high to be here.
I was totally fucked for the next hour. I tried to keep up with my fellow yogis and not look out of place, but [the] constant stumbling, wrong movements, bad timing, and massive pool of sweat surrounding me were clear signs of a man out of his element. At what I would have guessed to be the halfway point, I glanced towards the exit, imagining how glorious the cold air outside the studio would be. If it wasn't for my roommate attending, I would've been out of there. But the chirps [that would have ensued] for the rest of our lifetime was enough to keep me going. I powered through and got more comfortable as the class went on. It ended, eventually, and I survived with a whole new outlook and appreciation for yoga.
Samantha Duff, 26, yoga studio owner
It was a very memorable moment. We were doing hot yoga and everybody was sweating like crazy, and one of our less coordinated students slipped from her mat and hit the ground. There was a loud fart. And then she started laughing. The more she laughed, the more farts came out. It was rapid fire, like a machine gun. We all could not stop laughing. It was hilarious.
Matt Mays, 37
One time in New York, I went to a Halloween class dressed up as a full-on spartan warrior. Brush helmet, arm and leg shields, chest plate, man-skirt. I ended up being the only one who dressed up. You can't leave the room with Bikram yoga, so I had to do the whole class in 110-degree heat. [I] won a free pizza, though, for best costume.
Another time, I tried my first headstand and fell over and knocked over like six babes, domino-style. I haven't tried a headstand since.
Hillary Windsor is a writer living in Halifax. Follow her on Twitter.