04/15/2015 05:25 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Cool Yoga


There was a revolution during my warm and gentle yoga class for beginners today. It was my third warm class after 14 months off from yoga following 35 years of regular practice. My teacher is a good teacher. I first started attending her hot vinyasa class two years ago as much for her yoga knowledge as for getting some social time among my yoga friends and neighbors who live in our small coastal Maine community.

This morning at yoga I was met at the door by my good teacher, as I always am -- as we all always are -- with a welcome hug and a smile, and a little frown today because today the little lobby smelled of fresh paint, and good teacher told me that the windows in the studio would be open today and the room would be cooler. "We are repainting the studio," she said. Inside my heart, I thanked God, thinking cooler is better for my hot body, not sexy hot; it is just that the practice of yoga itself builds my internal heat.

Building my own internal heat and moving that heat around my body has long been my practice out of necessity because for decades I practiced my yoga by myself in corner of our cool to cold field house at our local YMCA. When I am in hot or warm yoga, my "ocean sounding breath" and fiery asanas makes me sopping wet with sweat. "Peter, you sweat so much," my good teacher often says. My mat always needs a wet vacuuming after.

The windows were open and so the air was cool. My mat was last in line next to a window and when good teacher pointed to the new paint, I turned the other way and secretly opened my window wider. Fresh and cool spring air poured in and embraced me inside and out.

In class, good teacher asked, "Is it too cold?" "Uh ah," I grunted. "Are you warm enough?" she asked.

"Ah ha," I'd grunt.

"Yes," the class spoke as one.

"May I open this window wider?" asked a yogini across the room from me. Good teacher opened the window wider.

"Ahhhhhhh," everybody sighed.

As we began shavasana, good teacher asked, "Do you want me to close the windows? Does any one want a blanket?"

"No," we all agreed.

"You are all so hot," she said. We giggled and agreed. After class, she asked, "Do you like the room cool?"

"We like the room cool," we said.

"We can start a new trend," she said.

"Or an old one," I replied.

"Cool room yoga lets me practice enkindling my inner fire until I become like a flame. Hot room yoga lends the heat to your body. Cool room lets me build my own heat," I said and the class agreed.

"We've changed before," good teacher thought aloud, "maybe we will change again."

Out in the lobby as we all said our good-byes, she said, "Imagine the money I will save on next year's heating bill. Hot yoga cost so much this past winter."

"Let the burned calories of your students heat your studio for you," I winked.

"Let's call it 'Cool Yoga: Enkindle Your Inner Fire'," someone said.