The burping confession…

I needed tonight’s class like a losing team needs a win.

For starters, my stomach held itself in check.  (We’ll get more into this later.)

Secondly, my favorite, favorite teacher was on the podium.  And she remembered my name. And she complimented/called me out on two poses and, best of all, helped fine-tune my form by holding my hips down in half-tortoise.

Thirdly, the heat and humidity warmed me just right, just to the point of pure sweat but not to the point of total collapse. I left well-rinsed and red-faced but not stumbling and weak, worried of heat stroke.

Fourthly (is there such a thing as fourthly?), I walked to class beneath a summer-blue sky, and ohhhhh, I needed that burst of color above me considering the days upon days of rain and clouds we’ve had here in Boston these last few weeks. Yes, weeks. I might as well move to Seattle.

And, last but not least, after a steady string of mediocre to outright bad classes in which I pushed through solely by tapping into my deepest reserves of determination, I cannot tell you how refreshing it was to feel like me again, to recognize my body, to concentrate on actually perfecting postures not just attempting to stay in them, to see my green eyes staring back at me clearly, not cloudy with dehydration, exhaustion, or pain.

Yes, my friends.  I needed, and my yoga delivered.

Don’t get me wrong—I am a big believer in the notion that the hard classes give us the greatest lessons and, perhaps, the greatest rewards. After all, don’t we learn more through struggling and overcoming than through coasting? Still. We all deserve a break sometime. A good, solid, satisfying, relaxing, generous class that helps remind us why we love this yoga in the first place.

Lately, I’ll admit, my feet have dragged the whole way to the studio. I am absolutely amazed I’ve made it to as many classes as I have these last few weeks, considering how lousy and unmotivated I’ve felt. And although my pride is keeping me from asking my teachers any questions, we’ve finally reached a point in which my impatience and frustration just may win.  You see, about those stomach issues…

One of my favorite bloggers, Miss Live It, Love It, writes a “TMI Thursday” post each week.  It isn’t Thursday, and what I’m about to get into isn’t nearly as graphic as some of the stories she shares (each anecdote is hilarious, I promise!), but, well, anything involving bodily functions usually makes people at least grimace.  That said, this blog is mostly about yoga, and what I’m struggling with is a yoga issue, and you readers are mostly yogis, so…

I’ve been burping a lot in class.

And by a lot, I mean….uh, a lot. And we’re talking startingly loud, from-the-bottom-of-my-belly, almost painful burps.  WTF?!

No matter what I eat during the day, no matter how much or how little water I drink prior to class, I can feel these guttural bursts of air coming on within a minute into pranayama breathing. And they last the entire 90 minutes, from standing series to spine-strengthening series to final savasana. And, yes, I’m in agony the entire time. Because I am either A. trying to suppress said burps; B. letting them rip (mouth closed, of course) as quickly and quietly as possible and hoping no one hears me; C. attempting unsuccessfully to breathe through the air bubbles; D. counting the seconds until class ends; or E. hoping to God for a miracle to cure me instantaneously.

It’s been a rough go of it, friends.  And I’m not entirely sure what to do.

Now, I know a consistent Bikram yoga class helps with all systems in your body, including digestion. I understand that all of the compression postures in Bikram yoga are bound to be loosening up all sorts of gunk and junk in my stomach, intestines, colon, and beyond.  But…I’ve been practicing this yoga for nearly three years now. I eat fairly healthy foods, don’t consume much meat or dairy (minus some milk in my morning coffee and Greek yogurt at lunch). I don’t drink soda or any other carbonated beverages throughout the day. And I’ve never experienced in-class burps like this.

So, tonight, as an experiment, I went the entire class without water. And this trick definitely helped. Makes sense—by not drinking water, I’m not tasking my body with additional digestion, and I’m not taking in extra air by sipping and swallowing. My worry, though, is that I won’t be able to go every single class sans water. Or, maybe I could?  I usually only drink one to three times during class any way. But, what about those days I’m not as hydrated or the room is particularly hot?

I know none of you are doctors (or…are you?), and I’m not necessarily asking for medicinal advice or expertise. But, I am curious to know if any of my fellow yogis (or any of my fellow general-interest readers!) suffer from this bizarre in-class burping ailment, too. Reassure me and let me know I’m not alone in this.

Or, perhaps I am.

And that’s just fine as well.

Because, really, we’re all alone in our journeys (and in our joy and pain).  Whether we’re burping or not.

19 responses to “The burping confession…

  1. I’ve had this problem (and occasionally a little reflux) a few times. I can’t seem to pinpoint the reasons. It’s really uncomfortable, though. My burps seem to be exacerbated by spine series, although when I get burpy, it seems to be class-long, regardless of posture or water intake. I’ve developed a theory, though, that it has to do with the humidity level. I think it affects my internal pressure when the humidity exceeds a certain level. I realize this is totally unhelpful, but you’re not alone. ^__^

  2. Burp away. Burps don’t smell. They don’t spread disease. They are considered impolite, but there’s nothing particularly gross about them. If you just let yourself burp, you might find that the burping just goes away on its own. It might be something like suppressed laughter. I have gotten annoyed at things like uncovered coughing during class, but I can’t imagine being anything but slightly amused by someone’s burping.

    I haven’t had the burping problem. I have gotten the hiccups, which are really bad in the spine strengthening series. And of course, I’ve had spitting up/reflux problems with locust. Compared to resting your head back down into a puddle of your own bile (which I’ve done a few times now, and always just pure liquid), burping seems kind of quaint.

  3. Oh geez, of COURSE. This used to happen to me, like, ALL THE TIME, exactly how you are describing.

    Cutting the water helps A LOT for me. Especially that little informal water break right before the first savasana – that one is the WORST. I can’t tell you how many times I drank water at that break and then regretted it within 5 minutes as soon as I laid on my belly. But every time I skipped that break, I would “think” I was thirsty for a few more minutes, and then that feeling would totally go away and I would have a perfectly comfortable spine series. Just hold out til fixed firm, it’s only 10 minutes. And if you must drink, SIP, don’t chug. I actually like drinking hot water in class cause it takes away the urge to chug away on refreshing coldness – just a sip is enough to wet your mouth. And use a water bottle with an open neck that you can really SIP from, not one of those sports top ones where you have to practically squeeze on the bottle to get water.

    The other thing that helps – and this is so random, but it works like a charm on me – is ginger. Swear to god. Go to the nuts/trail mix section of Trader Joe’s on Boylston, and find the bag of crystallized ginger pieces, and carry them in your work bag and munch on a few of them like an hour to 30 minutes before class. Ginger tea is good too, but it is less portable.

    Lemme know if it works… :)

  4. I agree with J… Cutting out the amount of water you take down right before and during class will help prevent the reflux.

    I don’t have the burping issue…. Mine is more of a BURNING issue in my stomach from water. Acid reflux really sucks. But when I drink less water, I am fine.

  5. Dorothy: Hmmm… I like your theory. How scientific of you. :)

    Duffy: I’ve never had the hiccup problem. (I very, very rarely get the hiccups anyway.) And, interestingly, even when I do give in and just burp away, they keep freaking coming, in droves! So letting ’em rip doesn’t make them disappear, unfortunately.

    Juliana: Awesome recommendation, as always. I’m not a huge fan of ginger, but I’m reaching the point of desperation. I’ll try anything! So, I’ll swing by TJs in the next day or so and then report back. Until then, ditching water just may be the way to go. Thanks, my dear!

  6. Missus: Yep, going sans water just may be the way to go. At least temporarily. I’ve never experienced a burning sensation from water. Isn’t it funny and fascinating how we all have such different (and, also, similiar) physical reactions to this yoga??

    Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Hahaha! Oh man, I don’t mean to laugh, but I’ve definitely been there… at least the air wasn’t coming out the *other* end, my love! xoxo

  8. burping… sounds better than farting in class. i am so embarrassed when that happens.

  9. seems I hear often from teachers that if you aren’t hydrated by an hour before class you won’t be and that it takes about 45min for the water to be absorbed by your body and hydrate it. so, drinking water in class isn’t helping to hydrate you, it’s just something many of us do for comfort.

    hands down, belching is less embarrasing than the toots. always happens to me if i get real deep in standing separate leg streching!

    you’re alright! thanks for all you share!

  10. LiLu: If I was having a problem with air coming out the other end, then I’d definitely have my first official TMI Thursday post!!

    Floreta: I love that you confessed to farting in class. That just made my day.

    Heidi: Thanks for sharing! I’ve heard the same thing from my teachers, and I KNOW I drink enough water that I come to class plenty hydrated. Which is why I’m confident ditching water-in-class on a regular basis wouldn’t be that big of a deal. We shall see, we shall see…

  11. Oh YAY, are we oversharing today??? Cause I’ve farted in class soooo many times. I’ve done pretty much everything in class short of puking. (KNOCK ON WOOD!!) I mean, c’mon, if you’re practicing all the time, there are always gonna be SOME days when you didn’t make perfect food choices (“what did I eat for dinner last night!? rats! it was black beans!!”) and you get all bloated and gas just needs to come out! No one every said this was PRETTY yoga. It ain’t called wind removing for nothing!! Gotta get down and dirty some days…

    I’ll always remember this time when I did this backbending session with the guy who owns Quincy… it was just a little group of us working on conditioning… he kept shouting, “FARTING IS ACCEPTABLE!!” and just letting it RIP. It was funny as HELL. I’ve never laughed harder in my life…

  12. Juliana, this comment was too funny. And so perfect I didn’t really have anything to say in response other than laughter. :)

  13. Hi Hannnah, I have suffered from the same problem. I now have a water-free practice because it was the only way to find some relief. I have a few sips of water before going into the yoga room. Ginger (as mentioned by Juliana) works wonders, if you don’t like the taste, you could try peppermints too.

    You can get to a water-free practice in stages; eliminate the water breaks one by one. Once you are water-free, leave the water bottle in the locker room, it removes the temptation.

    Good Luck!

  14. Dana: Hello, and welcome! Thank you for your comment and advice. I think I’d like peppermint a lot more than ginger. But, I agree with you—I should probably just go the water-free route. I barely drink any water in class any way, so it shouldn’t be too hard of an adjustment. I’m just glad I’m not alone in dealing with this weird burping phenomenon! :)

  15. I only started bikram a few weeks ago. I drag my butt to class at omg-o’clock in the morning so don’t eat before. I don’t drink much in class (maybe a sip once if that). My problem is not IN class but after and sometimes that can be hours or a day later. As bikram is the only new thing (and I stopped for awhile to test it), I am thinking it is the cause.
    I do pilates too and the weirdest thing is that 15 minutes into the pilates class is when the belching usually kicks in – even when I haven’t had problems before during the day. Anyone else do both and have problems?
    I am really hoping that this will calm down coz erupting like Old Faithful and firing off one long salvo in meetings could become career limiting…

  16. Hello, Hannah! I am a Bikram teacher in Las Vegas :-) Since you are an experienced practitioner I recommend you hydrate properly throughout the day so you don’t want to drink in class. There are quite a few studios that don’t allow water in class after your first day. Not only will this improve your burping, but it will assist in your focus, concentration and meditation. Your body does not NEED water in class, so try to get your MIND with your body…yoga, baby!!!

  17. Hello Hannah, thank you so much for sharing this!! I’ve been having the same problem and it’s really challenging my practice….I’ve been looking a lot on the web fo the “answer” to WTF is causing this. I did ask 4-5 teachers already but they were all puzzled and said they never heard of anythign like this. It only made me feel like a total weirdo and utterly embarrassed. After reading your confession here at least I know I am not some kind of a rare exception. I wonder if you can let me know if you have found a solution in the meantime (the post is pretty old by this stage). I’ve tried everything from the above with ZERO result. NADA! I don’t drink water in class or immediately before class, I am uber careful with food throughout the day (always have only salad for lunch), always stay very hydrated during the day, I’ve even tried the ginger just before class, it did make me feel refreshed but didn’t do much about the burping in class issue…

    I’ve noticed the burping in my case always starts with the first spine strengthening posture (I might have one or two small burps in the warm up some time, but nothing more). BUT The moment I lie on my belly and the nightmare begins…it really interferes with my breathing and hence my ability to do anything properly…worse yet, it must be horrible for everybody around me; it’s mortifying!….I’ve been struggling with this for months now…(I go to class 4-5 times a week). The other day the girl next to me just turned and told me I should leave the class if I am not feeling well and that it was disgusting…which I am sure it is as much for me as for her…but that just sent me in total depression and I spent the remaining 15 min of the class silently sobbing in embarrassment and despair…

    Someone please tell me how to sort this out…I don’t really want to stop yoga (this is sort of out of the question) but in the same time this is turning into a problem…After I was “told off” by that lady I have defiantely resoluted not to do a single spine strengthening posture (i.e. lie on my bellie) until I have a way to prevent the consequent excessive belching and that’s that! But I do feel I will be missing out and it’s not a long-term solution….
    I will be looking forward to your response re: have you found a solution or if it did go away on its own accord with time…Eagerly waiting to hear from you!

  18. It happens to me too. Burping and hiccups. Throughout the 90 minutes. No idea why. Just started this month and every time I am doing it now….

  19. Hello Petya,

    I have had the same problem. I realized though that the more I practice yoga, the less I burp. Stay with it. As for that woman who made the comment to you, just remember, she has the issue, not you. I would just avoid sitting near her. The yoga studio I go to is very loving and open.

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