Recently read another NYT article positing my choice of physcial/mental/spiritual maintentance into the headlines once again. A hot trend, literally and figuratively, is practicing yoga in triple digit temps. Type-As in NY and LA are demanding their teachers crank the studio into woodfire oven mode. Apparently Miss Margherite in midtown Manhattan won’t bother rolling the mat out unless she leaves class looking like a smokin’ hot flattened thin-crust pizza.
I’ve been practicing off and on for nearly 15 years, the off years an occasional once or twice a week class or dvd as I checked off bucket list items like a 3:30 marathon (alas, torn calf turned it into a 3:35), one-day ride from Seattle to Portland, and a brief attempt to resemble celebrity trainer Jillian (my five-ten frame and lanky bones will never accomplish this without a bucket of protein powder and drill seargent screaming “10 more Brady” a day). But for nearly three years, it’s been all yoga. One to two hours a day of disciplined practice that has had a significant impact on my life and well-being. Before I wax poetic and get off on an eternal tangent, I’ll get back to the heat…
After a year of Baptiste-style “power flow” in a 90+ degree heated room in Seattle, I moved to the east coast feeling a lot like the NY and LA furnace chasers. Did a little Bikram in Baltimore (105 degrees in a stinky room with a navy seal masked as a yogi) and decided that was too much heat and cultish dogma. But once I got to Princeton, the coolers came on. Lots of yoga, NO HEAT. So I acquiesed, albeit kicking and screaming, into the studio with multiple layers on (mind you, we’re talking 80 degrees…just a lot cooler than what I was used to).
Here’s the thing though…after five months of daily practice with Daya and Gemma (both incredible instructors committed to carrying on the roots of traditional yoga in a safe but challenging environment) in a comfortable temp room, I don’t need, or want, the extra heat. My body creates it naturally with sun salutations and long steady holds. No flying through poses and sweating in such fashion as to ‘detox’ (in my view, this is just an excuse for running away from something, or getting ‘rid’ of what is an integral part of you). The cooler temps have disciplined me to pay attention to my muscles, alignment, breath, and, in a way, ‘earn’ the sweat.
The extra heat now feels almost superficial. In the end, if the heat gets more sedentary folks into the studio I’m all for it, just do me a favor and stay put in NY and LA, please.
Here’s the article: