How to Survive in the Frigid North with Yoga

How to survive the frigid north

How to Survive the Frigid North

How to survive the frigid north? We recently moved to North Dakota where I am experiencing a cold that I have never felt. I am from Utah and we get cold but the snow is wet so it will dump and melt, dump and melt. I lived in Northern Japan which was mostly the same, except for one frigid week we spent in Sapporo. Mostly I think the cold we felt there was due to lack of proper clothing.

So, moving to North Dakota, we came prepared. We spent thousands of dollars on clothing to keep our feet, hands, body, head, and face warm. And it was worth every penny! I have never experienced cold that literally takes my breath away and that blows right through my soul. In North Dakota when it snows, it falls sideways due to the wind.

How to survive the frigid north? I am a beach bunny at heart and I have had to look for ways to survive the dark, cold north. My biggest strength has always been yoga and looking for the beauty around me. Here are beautiful things that I have discovered and the connections to a healthy, sustaining yoga practice.

How to Survive the Frigid North with Yoga

Let’s compare three light phenomenon to yoga poses which will help us embrace the cold and the power we see in the sky.

1. Sundog

This is sundog. A sundog is a concentrated patch of sunlight occasionally seen when temperatures reach 22° to the left or right of the Sun. Sundogs often form in pairs on either side of the sun when sunlight refracts through icy clouds. They are often white but sometimes quite colorful, looking like detached pieces of rainbow, with red on the inside, toward the Sun, and blue on the outside.

When the temperatures get cold and you want to learn how to survive the frigid north, do some yoga! Vinyasa yoga will warm you up from the inside out by connecting breathwork and movement. I suggest, when you see a sundog, try a few rounds of Surya Namaskara A to build warmth and honor the sun that is still in the sky even if it does not feel warm. Practice a few rounds of Sun Saluations with me:

2. Light Pillars

These are light pillars. Light pillars form in colder climates when ice particles near the ground are light enough to remain suspended in the air. If conditions are calm, the hexagonally shaped ice particles can become vertically stacked as they slowly drift through the atmosphere.

So many yoga poses require us to “vertically stack.” Try mimicking the strength and power in this phenomenon with vashistasana and trikonasana. Both poses require you to stack your arms on top of each other, one arm supporting from the ground, and the other reaching up, just like light pillars. This is one way we learn how to survive the frigid north.

3. Sun Pillar

Sun pillar

Sun pillars are beams of light that extend vertically upward (or downward) from a bright light source, such as the sun or another bright light low on the horizon. They can be 5 to 10 degrees tall and sometimes even higher. They might lengthen or brighten as you gaze at them.

When is the best time to see a sun pillar or light pillar? Sun pillars are most often seen when the sun is low in the western sky before sunset, or low in the east just after the breaking of dawn. You might even see a sun pillar when the sun is below the horizon.

When trying to think of how to survive the frigid north with yoga when we see a sun pillar, we can do yoga poses that start preparing the body for nighttime. Since this phenomenon happens as the sun is setting, we are seeing the sun set to our day and our daily activity. Try these poses to help your body wind down.

  • Supta Baddha Konasana
  • Paschimottonasana
  • Marichyasana C
  • Legs up the wall
  • Setu Bhanda Sarvangasana
  • Uttanasana
  • Halasana
  • Savasana
  • Balasana (child’s pose)

4. Crystals

The key to how to survive the frigid north is to see the beauty in it. One morning when the sun finally came up, the world sparkled. There were ice crystals everywhere, on the trees, on the snow piles, on the fences, and on my windows. The world seemed really still and in crystal clear focus. How do we celebrate this crystal focus? With meditation to help us find focus. Try this guided meditation:

If you happen to find yourself in the frigid north like me, and you find yourself asking, “How to survive the frigid north?” Try embracing yoga!

Published by Yoga Traveler

Yoga is my passion, teaching is my life. I started teaching yoga when my husband entered the US Air Force and now my career travels with me. Every time I move, I look for places to teach and a community of caring yogis who I grow to love and then one day, leave behind. This is a place where we can reconnect and create our yoga together. This site can travel with you. Welcome!

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