people work out in the snow at Maine Yoga Adventures
A group of participants (and a furry friend) working out with Maine Yoga Adventures. (Photo courtesy Holly Twining)
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Some people talk about winter with such dread, like it’s an unwelcome out-of-town relative arriving with suitcases packed for a prolonged, bothersome stay.

But not Holly Twining. To her, winter is a snow-covered playground. Or, to stick with the original analogy, winter is a snow-pants-wearing neighborhood pal with a couple of sleds and a thermos of hot cocoa knocking on her door asking if she can come out and play. 

Twining’s not one to turn down an opportunity to play. She’s even inviting us to come, too. 

a climber scales an ice wall
A climber scales an ice wall under guidance of Maine Yoga Adventures. (Courtesy Holly Twining)

An experienced yoga instructor, Twining is the founder of Maine Yoga Adventures, a Maine-based event company that combines yoga with a range of outdoor activities all year long — from hiking and rock climbing to whitewater rafting, cross-country skiing and outdoor hot tubs. 

But it’s Twining’s own unique blend of goofiness and good humor that makes adventuring with her so memorable. She’s the type to trek you into the winter woods in snowshoes and then lead you through a standing yoga practice while still wearing snowshoes. She calls it “snowga.” 

The practice typically begins with strong warrior poses or arms stretched toward the open sky. It typically ends with hilarious tumbles into the snow and the spirited creation of snow angels.

It’s that contagious winter enthusiasm that first lured me to join an ice climb with Maine Yoga Adventures on Mount Desert Island a few winters back. I was not an experienced ice climber that February morning (I’m still not), but there I was with a crew of fellow beginners, learning how to swing an ax and kick my crampons into the ice under the guidance of experts from Acadia Mountain Guides.

The ice climb was part of a whole day’s worth of activities that included a winter hike on Dorr Mountain, yoga indoors at a studio in Ellsworth and the promise of hot soup and red wine to close out an active day. It was all coordinated by Twining in collaboration with local guides and instructors. All I did was pull on some snow pants and show up. 

Standing there at the base of the ice wall, though, I was nervous. It was a wall of ice, after all. What if I fell? What if the ice cracked loose and plummeted to the ground, me clinging to it like a terrified koala?

But Twining’s easy sense of humor and goofiness immediately helped take the edge off (as did the reminder from our guides that the ice was sound and all redundant safety measures had been implemented).

Twining amped us up with words of encouragement and did a little tap dance in her crampons to make us laugh. She offered to climb up the ice first to demonstrate, and when she reached the top of the route, she raised her mittened hand into the air with a flourish and let out a call of triumph. 

Soon we were all taking turns climbing up. Though we were strangers an hour ago, we readily cheered each other on and belted out loud woohoos with each successful swing of an ax. Some climbed all the way to the top, others were content to go part of the way. That’s one of the perks of adventuring in a welcoming group like this. You’re encouraged to give it a try, but there’s no pressure to be perfect at it. Everyone gets to move at their own pace. 

By the end of our day, we were all wonderfully exhausted and proud. Those are the kind of results Twining aims for. Getting people outside and trying new things is a driving force for why she does what she does. 

“Trying something new takes adventurers (and myself) to that awesome mix of anxiety and excitement where the energy is truly lit,” she said. “What would life be if you didn’t try anything beyond your usual, your routine? Newness fills an otherwise dormant empty space with possibility and potential.” 

New adventures are also really good reasons to get outside at a time of year when some struggle to find a good reason to. Who knows, by the end of winter, you might even be sad to see the snow melt. 

Shannon Bryan is a writer and outdoor enthusiast who lives in South Portland. Find her at shannonkbryan.com.

Upcoming Events with Maine Yoga Adventures

Snowbound Yurt Adventure
Fri-Sun, Jan. 6-8
Aroostook County
$300
Downhill ski at Big Rock Mountain and head to the Nordic Heritage Center for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing (and maybe a sauna, too)! Even cooler, your basecamp is a yurt on 120 acres (cross-country and snowshoeing right out the door)! 

Ice Climb, Snowga & Ski Adventure
Fri-Sun, Feb. 17-19
Grafton Notch State Park
$500
Ice climb under the expert guidance of Equinox Guiding Service in Grafton Notch State Park. There will be yoga in the snow and opportunities to cross-country ski on nearby trails. Your accommodations for the weekend: an 1870 farm home in the heart of downtown Bethel (and it has a hot tub)! 

Curling and Arting Adventure
Sat, March 11
Belfast
$125
The day begins with a Learn to Curl session at the Belfast Curling Club. Later, you’ll head to Waterfall Arts Center to get creative with an art project (no worries if you have little artistic inclination — it’ll be a laid back experience. 

Visit maineyogaadventures.com for more information.

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