What we did: Snow Yoga at Brae Ridge Alpaca and Horse Farm
“Now you can embrace the powerful benefits of traditional yoga, nature and animal therapy during the winter months.“
Who went: Bloggers Sam and Kim, also Sarah, and friend of the blog, Rob
What it was: An hour of very windy yoga in the snow and brilliant sunshine, with our wonderful instructor Angie, and time spent after drinking hot chocolate and feeding the alpacas and learning lots about the animals.
I said “yes” immediately when asked to “snow yoga”; when the morning rolled around and my alarm went off I was a little less chirped about it. However, I powered through the routine, and packed for alpacas) chiefly my particle mask against allergens, not virus particles) and rolled out to the farm.
First yoga I’ve been to in at least five years–I do Aikido, though not lately–and it was a blast!
The wind was very chill–the instructor, Angie, was calm about it. Sarah loaned me some woolen mitts (I needed them) and we were off into Warrior Pose with warm wooly mammals wandering amongst us.
The alpacas doubtless thought we were all mad, but they just mingled complacently among us, eating hay and giving is the occasional bleat (do alpacas bleat? It’s a weird noise.) Was great. The sunshine was fabulous and I’m glad I went. I missed being in a class.
I love alpacas, yoga, and sunny winter days but I confess I wasn’t sure about the combo. I’ve been to goat yoga before and enjoyed it but it wasn’t winter. It wasn’t snow-ga.
As it turned out the snow-ga part was just fine. We didn’t use our yoga mats. We did yoga in the actual snow. I thought the instructor, Angie, did a great job of bringing our attention to this very Canadian winter day and making it part of the class. Let the wind take the things that aren’t currently serving you and blow them all away! We moved more and more quickly than you might in a typical yoga class, but I enjoyed the flow of the movements. I easily stayed warm and felt like we got a good workout in.
I also loved spending time with the alpacas after the class. They had such distinctive personalities and their owners enjoyed telling us how each of the alpacas came to the farm. Some were recent rescues and they weren’t that comfortable yet with people. Others acted like we were best buddies forever. Feeding them does that.
There’s something about the alpacas wandering around during the class that makes it better for me. Partly, I’m less self-conscious. No one is looking at my form or the modifications I’m making when there are alpacas to look at. But also the alpacas make me feel like a child again. I’m moving my body in the snow with alpacas. What a great way to spend a winter day.
I did the alpaca snow-ga booking and it was super easy to do through the Brae Farm website. They were really organized and professional and offered us an opportunity to rebook from a previous date that was forecast to be very cold.
Despite my positive experience with the organizing part I must admit I was expecting something along the lines of a highly instagrammable petting zoo, with maybe an instructor running us through a few poses in the adjacent paddock.
Instead I was pleasantly surprised by both the alpacas and the yoga. Brae Ridge is a nice little hobby farm with a herd of adorable alpacas, who just kind of hung out and nibbled on feed and hay that the staff scattered amongst the participants. Alpacas aren’t much into being petted but were totally happy to hang out with us as if we were new to the herd and a little slow on the food uptake.
The yoga part was also surprisingly good. Nothing too formal or advanced; the instructor did a good job of mixing up standing movements from different modalities to keep us warm and active and connected with our surroundings. I’ve done a fair bit of yoga outside in warmer seasons and love the feeling of communion with nature, but I wasn’t sure how that would translate to a snowdrift on a windy day, but it was wonderful. It definitely helped to be well dressed for an hour plus we spent outside, but I found it as easy to feel connected to a cold blue sky and the earth under a thick blanket of snow as it is in the warm summer months. I might have been a tad less flexible in the cold but everything was fun and gentle and definitely enhanced by having curly little alpaca butts running around.
When I arrived at Brae Ridge it was brilliantly sunny and wickedly windy. I thought for sure, this is going to suck. It took a while to get started but once we were into it I couldn’t help feel like I was being overtaken by joy. Angie the instructor made the most of really tough conditions, choosing lots of fluid simple movements to keep us warm, focused on the sun, and she encouraged us to interact with the animals as they moved all around us. At one point I was in forward fold, only to realize that my route to standing was blocked by an alpaca bum. This is what I mean by joy, and delight! Somehow my mood lifted what with all the sun and the fur, and when we had the chance to hand feed the animals and snuggle with the horses, I felt exactly like a kid. Robert reminded me to hold onto that joyful child like feeling
Sorry, Tracy. It was one more Yoga and…!
How about you? Do you love or hate outdoor yoga with animals?