Welcome to winter, a time for knit sweaters, elongated savasanas, and coconut oil coffee. We’re big fans of combining exploration with mindfulness, leading us to investigate some inspirational winter activities. Are you a fan of hiking? Try snowshoeing. Is your backyard blanketed in snow? Grab some pals and spend the afternoon testing out “snowga,” followed by a relaxing winter tea party. Just because the world is dark, doesn’t mean you have to stay indoors. Here are some of our favorite ways to celebrate winter.
Snowshoeing, or “snow hiking,” has been practiced for thousands of years,with origins in present-day central Asia. What began as a necessary means of employment and survival has transformed into a beloved recreational sport, providing outdoorsy folks with a mindful and environmentally-friendly alternative to other winter activities, like ATVing.
It’s now the faster growing winter sport in the entire world, and for good reason. Snowshoeing allows you to explore backcountry hikes to find natural vistas and sights that might have been otherwise unavailable. The activity demands focus and strength, as you’re likely not accustomed to walking on snow, which can help ground you in the present moment. On top of that, witnessing such a holy grail of mother nature is an amazing opportunity to soak in gratitude for your environment.
Snowga is exactly how it sounds: yoga in the snow. And while this style may seem like just another yoga trend, many instructors profess genuine merit to this unique practice. Not only does Snowga place practitioners in the heart of Mother Nature, but it also allows them to work with their bodies in a new environment, thus inspiring the focus necessary to tackle a new physical challenge. Balance becomes harder due to the lack of a flat surface and it’s not unusual to sweat more than you would in a Bikram class. (All those layers will make you sweat!)
Some Snowga practitioners enjoy the use of winter sport “props” that help make the yoga more accessible and rewarding. The ski poles can help with Warrior 2, and snowshoes can provide more support for those looking to ease into backbends. Either way, the physical and mental benefits make it well-worth exploring.
Even the most seasoned yogis can feel intimidated by a hot practice, and it can be hard to find a studio that works for you. That being said, a hot practice during the winter can provide the ultimate heat-filled sanctuary that helps to soothe your mind and strengthen your body. And that cold air feels far more bearable after you’ve just spent an hour in a 96 degree room.
Different studios utilize different heating techniques and temperatures, so it should be noted that not all hot yoga is the same. Radiant heat panels, hydronic heating, and infrared heating are three hot yoga heating elements that might have varying effects on your body. Test out a few studios and explore the possibility of hot yoga working for you. If you’re new, it’s especially important to hydrate and listen to your body. You may discover that you were a “hot yogi” all along.
If you’re looking for a way to unwind and socialize, look to a tea party. The classic gathering can be revamped to fit your modern lifestyle, combining homemade teas with healthy spins on teacakes to create a mindful and relaxing hangout sesh.
Create the sort of space that beckons relaxation, lighting candles or placing fat pillows around a coffee table. Ask your friends to each bring a small snack or tea. Pour each mug, and take a moment to inhale the scent, taste the various herbs, and feel the hot liquid warm your entire body. As for conversation, use the opportunity to talk about your feelings regarding the current sociopolitical landscape. Mindful conversation is the best way to inspire action.
Amanda Kohr is a 24-year-old writer and photographer with a penchant for yoga, food, and travel. She prefers to bathe in the moonlight rather than the sun, and enjoys living in a state of the three C’s: cozy, creative, and curious. When she’s not writing, you can find her driving her VW Bug, looking for the next roadside attraction or family diner. She also roams the Internet via her blog at cozycaravan.com.