Taming the Trumpets
By: Kristie Orchard Lindblom, RYT
Queef. Vart. Hoochie Honk. Cooter Hooter. Yep, you know what I’m talking about: The Vagina Fart. Urban Dictionary as defines it as: “Air expelled from the vagina, sometimes mistaken for a fart.” It happens to the best of us…. Often during an activity that stretches us into positions we aren’t typically in. No! Not sex! Get your mind out of the gutter! Ok, well, yes, it does happen during sex. However, it is completely common for it to happen during asana (the physical yoga poses) practice. There you are, going about your business… inhaling… exhaling… stretching… strengthening… and then BAM! You are coming out of an inversion and hear “Phllllphhhhhhhfffffffffftttt! Oh. My. Gosh. Was that me? What the heck was that? Did anyone hear? I’ll just kind of cough and pretend that didn’t happen.
Take heart, my dear yogini friends. You can find comfort in two things:
1. It is a universal experience among women who practice yoga. If it hasn’t happened to you, IT WILL!
2. There are ways to prevent it (some of the time at least).
Before we discuss how to prevent it let’s talk about what causes it. When we move or stretch the body in certain ways, air can get sucked into our vaginal canal. Since your body is not a vacuum, what goes in must come out. Hence, the vart.
It usually happens in a vinyasa, inversion, or towards the end of practice when your muscles are more fatigued. During vinyasa, which links movement and breath and turns asana (postures) into a dynamic flow, many teachers suggest lifting on the inhalation and exhaling as we move into the next posture. An example of this would be in Ashtanga yoga when coming from downward facing dog (adho mukha svanasana) and swinging up into standing forward bend (uttanasana). Placing our support on our hands as we come up, we are challenged with the difficulty of supporting our own body weight. We face this same challenge when moving into certain inversions like scorpion or shoulder stands. Suddenly, we are working to hold our complete body weight in places we are not typically placing it.
To compensate for the difficulty of this weight shift, sometimes we automatically engage in what the medical profession calls the Valsalva Maneuver, in which we hold the breath and tighten the vocal cords. The effect of this maneuver is that it increases the blood pressure and decreases the cardiac output. This also causes an increase in activity in the pelvic floor which in turn causes that anatomical area to suck air in. And there it is folks: your hoochie is a-honkin‘. To avoid inadvertently using the Valsalva Maneuver, watch the breath and allow it to stay steady and smooth while avoiding any hesitation as your weight shifts.
Another way to avoid the Cooter Hooter is to engage in Mula Bandha, an energetic root lock that is one of the ways yogis direct the flow of prana (energy) in the body. The word Bandha means to tie together, or to close. When we engage in Mula Bandha we are locking the area between the navel and the floor of the pelvis. Looking at this from the physiological perspective, Mula Bandha supports the muscles of the pelvic floor. At a very basic level, it involves contracting the anus, the perineum, and the muscles of the pelvic floor that you use to pee. It is wise to work with an experienced yoga instructor on Mula Bandha as they will be able to direct you in the subtleties of the practice. When you engage in Mula Bandha during times when you would typically sound the horn, it helps to actively close of any spaces where air can come in.
Finally, I would like to put out a personal call to end the embarrassment surrounding the occasional queef in class. Take it from a yoga instructor, we hear all kinds of bodily sounds coming out of people and the hoochie honk is just one of them. A yoga class is a place to come and find acceptance of your body– varts and all!
Kristie Lindblom, RYT is a yoga instructor that specializes in therapeutic and restorative practice. She is a Stress Management Specialist at the Dean Ornish Program for Reversing Heart Disease. www.searchingforsattva.blogspot.com