Snow + Yoga = Snoga

By Alison Jenkins

Feb. 27, 2017

Around 20 people laid out yoga mats and made themselves comfortable. Shoes and socks were set alongside the mats with an extra layer for after class. The instructor stepped up to begin.

The sun was in her eyes.

That’s because the class was outside under the bare winter trees.

Welcome to yoga on snow.

Sunshine and blue skies made Rochford Square feel balmy Feb. 24.

The “snoga” was one of the city’s WinterLove activities.

Indra Johnson rolled out her mat in the park that Friday after taking part in other WinterLove events.

“I went snowshoeing [in Victoria Park] and noticed there were other things going on.”

Participants tamped down the snow under the mats before getting comfortable. Except for a few lumpy mats, the yoga poses were typical for instructor Cynthia Dennis.

Seeing the students outdoors in the snow was a thrill.

“It warms my heart.”

The weather made coats and shoes optional.

Dianne and Lisa Townshend were having a mother-daughter day. Lisa suggested the snoga, said Dianne.

“I’m up for the challenge… we did ‘er.”

Lisa was sporting an orange cast on her right hand from recent surgery. She found it a little challenging, but only when asked. Her comments were for the weather, she said.

“It’s warmer than I ever thought.”

Colin Hall’s snoga class in Regina’s Victoria Park in Saskatchewan usually requires more outerwear.

“Winters are brutal here.”

You can grump about it or find a way to make it fun, he said

Hall likes to go without mats and use the snow as part of his teaching.

Students pile snow to replace the large cushions called bolsters for restorative poses or they throw snow when moving from a forward bend into a standing pose in the traditional sequence called sun salutation.

“We can do slidy things, like slide back into downward dog.”

People sometimes start off feeling reserved and unsure, said Hall.

“But within five to 10 minutes, people loosen up and stop feeling self-conscious.

… They lose themselves in the fun of it.”

Jessica Brown is the sustainability outreach coordinator for Charlottetown. She helped organize WinterLove and the snoga class. Usually she works on projects like water conservation, energy efficiency, waste management and environmental awareness.

But sustainability is about more than just environment, it’s about keeping Charlottetown a good spot to live, said Brown.

“Over the long term for future generations.”