Like the pairing of red wine and dark chocolate, snowshoeing and yoga blend together in the perfect creative match that also benefits the body as well as the soul. Collectively known as Snowga, this unique pairing of yoga and snowshoeing was the creative idea of Lynda Kennedy, owner of Yogachelan in the north-central Washington town of Chelan.
Lynda, who’s been teaching yoga and offering classes in her Chelan studio for the last eight years, says of her combining yoga with snowshoeing: “I wanted to expose people to yoga who hadn’t tried it before. So, I combined activities they may know and be comfortable with, with those they perhaps wouldn’t have tried, like yoga.”
She adds that all the events and odd combinations with yoga are really just an effort to get as many people as possible to try yoga. “The number of health benefits of yoga is so far-reaching,” she says. “There is a whole spectrum of types of yoga and something that will fit every person.” In addition to Snowga classes, she teaches yoga at a nursing home, a long-term care facility, and also offers classes for those with cancer.
In addition to snowshoeing, Yogachelan combines yoga with a variety of outdoor events, including paddleboard yoga, wineries, hiking, barefoot walks, zip-lining, horseback riding, and river rafting. Outdoor activities include candlelight yoga, wine tasting, yoga in the dark, detox yoga, and wedding parties.
“We believe that yoga is for more than the yoga in a studio, it is part of life,” explains Lynda.
Some of the yoga poses, like the Dancer naturally transition to Snowga and are actually easier on a pair of snowshoes, while others like the Lotus crossed-leg pose is a little more challenging in snowshoes, but fun to try! “Yoga is a very centering and calming activity,” says Lynda. “Combining deep breathing with the snowshoe movement brings more awareness and relaxation of mind and body while on the trail. This allows you to be more present and enjoy the journey while not just focusing on getting to the end of the trail.”
The response to Snowga has been overwhelmingly positive, Lynda reports. “Everyone has loved it, both young and old, and I make the event accessible to almost everyone,” she says. “If you can walk you can snowshoe, and if you can breathe you are doing yoga.”
Lake Chelan Winterfest Festival
The public gets a chance to experience Snowga first-hand during the annual Lake Chelan Winterfest Festival each January in Chelan.
Lynda typically offers Snowga classes at the festival, even a “Sip, Stretch, and Snowshoe” through the vineyards of Tsillan Cellars. This fun combination of yoga, snowshoeing, and wine tasting usually lasts about two hours and begins with stretching outside of the picturesque Tsillan Cellars venue.
The group then snowshoes through the vineyards, taking time to absorb the beauty of the surrounding area, and incorporate some yoga poses as well. The trek finishes back at the winery and is capped (corked!) off with wine tasting.
“Pairing of yoga and wine tasting is actually a very natural combination,” says Lynda. “Yoga is about being present; awareness, slowing down, examining, and taking a journey with breath and movement. Wine tasting, too, includes those elements, and is also about observing the color of the wine, how it moves in the glass, examining its legs, breathing in the bouquet, noticing where the taste is on the pallet and what it is, and how long the taste lingers on your pallet; taking the journey if you will.”
The Chelan Valley has about 25 wineries, many with amazing grounds, and stunning views of Lake Chelan, the surrounding vineyards, and the Cascade Mountains. “These are beautiful places to experience yoga, and combining snowshoeing and wine tasting with yoga is a novelty that attracts lots of participants,” says Lynda.
For more information about Snowga, visit www.yogachelan.com.