I’m a bit of a yoga hound, I guess you could say. I got my teacher certification 15 years ago, and since then I’ve tried hot yoga that was so hot I thought my heart would explode. I’ve practiced traditional Ashtanga classes and new forms like hip-hop yoga. Wherever I go, from Canada to Nicaragua to the Netherlands, I try to sample the local take on yoga. So when I got the opportunity to try Snow-Ga, aka yoga in the snow, I jumped at the chance.
I arrived for my class at Bristol Mountain in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Mandy Wolfram, of Victor Yoga Studio, had me strap on snowshoes and handed me walking poles. We then set off on the snow-covered trails to find the perfect spot for class: a level clearing amid the trees.
As we started a sun salutation, I noticed that the women taking the class with me were wearing only yoga pants and slender puffy jackets. Meanwhile, I had donned at least four layers under my winter coat and snow pants. Pretty soon, I understood why: Even in sub-freezing temperatures, you work up a pretty good sweat flowing from chaturanga to downward-facing dog.
As we moved on to more difficult poses like crow and headstand (yes, I tried to balance on my head in the snow), I noticed I was less concerned about perfect form than I normally would be during a yoga class. I did not succeed in doing the headstand, and my wool gloves were a bit soaked through. But this was still the best part of Snow-Ga. By taking away my preoccupation with striking pretty poses, I was more aware of my surroundings.
I focused on breathing in the fresh air and gazing at the tree branches that sparkled with ice. By the last pose of class, which incorporated a tree trunk to help us stabilize a half moon, I felt pretty blissed out. And while I highly recommend the class in the Finger Lakes, you don’t need snowshoes to try Snow-Ga, just venture out to a park after the next snow fall and give it a try. But don’t forget to wear waterproof gloves!
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