Billed as “the adult version of making snow-angels,” 'snowga' sees wrapped-up yogis doing asanas in the snow. Here trained yoga instructor Matilde Wergeland gives us the low down
Yoga may have taken over the world, but the word still tends to conjure up images of people in warmer climes striking zen-like poses against tropical backdrops. But it doesn't have to be this way, as the Scandinavian-born practice of 'snowga' proves. With snowga (yoga in the snow), the concept of 'union' (the original meaning of 'yoga') is taken one step further, with the harmony between mind and body joined by an extra connection with nature.
As the name suggests, snowga is a very playful form of yoga, and perfect for anyone looking to shake up their usual wellness routine or in search of an alternative to skiing. As yoga teacher Rosanna Irgensdotter explains, the playfulness “is a helpful factor for anyone feeling a bit self-conscious about the practice. When the seriousness and stigma is removed, the idea of falling or not being flexible or strong enough in the snow will make it less dramatic.” Described as “how yogis play in the snow” and “the adult version of making snow-angels”, snowga isn't limited by form. The name applies to practicing any type of yoga, asanas, and breathing techniques outside in the snow.
The practice's casual credentials are strengthened further by it being done fully dressed (you don't want to be donning yoga pants and a vest when it's below freezing outside). Wearing warm clothes comes highly recommended, as long as you can move around in them, meaning it's a great way to try yoga for anyone feeling a bit self-conscious about the practice. With snowga, the seriousness and stigma is removed, and the idea of falling or not being flexible or strong enough in the snow takes all the pressure off.
Simply put, it is all about having fun and the layers of clothing and weather conditions allow plenty of room for imperfect poses and inevitable slip-ups.
Another positive of the practice is the obvious benefit of allowing us to go outside in nature to breathe some fresh air and maybe even get a dose of some vitamin-D – something that we definitely appreciate in Scandinavia during the colder months.
Moreover, snowga is a great way to warm up your muscles before continuing with any other winter activity, such as skiing. MD, PhD, and yoga teacher Ida Lindman says that “asanas like chair pose will get the fire in your thighs going and hence prepare your legs well enough for the slopes”. Lounges work on your flexibility and backbends can even feel easier and more accessible since you can grab onto your boots. Other props to include are ski poles that you can hold onto or rest your arms on while practicing poses such as warrior one and warrior two.
The practice can also challenge your balance a lot because of weather conditions, such as wind, and the fact that the ground may not be completely flat. Thus, snowga is all about being creative and experiencing a fun practice. You actually don’t even need a real mat – you can just draw the contours of one in the snow.
The beauty of snowga is how free-form it is, but If you are curious to try a class, there are a number of spots in Scandinavia who are known for their snowga classes. These include Lofsdalen Outdoor in Sweden, the Snowhotel Kirkenes in Norway, and the Iceland Yoga Retreat in Iceland.
Another tip is to check out your local studio, since many yoga studios offer snowga as a seasonal pop-up class during the winter. However, since it is all about creativity and playfulness, and all you need is your body and some snow, why not just host a class yourself this winter?