You know those days when you go out with friends and do something engaging and fun – like a group hike or a friendly game of tennis – and then after that you do ANOTHER really fun thing, like cross-country skiing, yoga, kayaking or, wow, horseback riding? And then after that you gather at a local watering hole to socialize over beers or hot soup or a glass of wine?
Maine Yoga Adventures is just like that.
Holly Twining started the Orono-based adventure-plus-more-adventure company last year, with the hopes of getting more people outside and moving their bodies – and making new friends along the way. (Even better, Holly does all the planning, which is fantastic for those of us who – ahem – maybe aren’t the best planners.)
It’s a great concept for anyone who wants to do fun stuff outside, whether you’re already fairly active or you’re just dabbling with the idea. Beginners are very welcome on Holly’s adventures and you’ll have a built-in group of fellow adventurers to enjoy the afternoon with. That’s worth noting, too – while we’re all free to plan our own afternoons filled with paddling and a picnic and a hike in the woods, it’s harder to do if you don’t know where to start or if you don’t already happen to have friends who are equally psyched to partake in the adventure (because doing fun stuff is even better with other people…unless those people have to be tricked into snowshoeing or crammed into a kayak by force because they just really don’t want to. In such cases, leave those folks be and join up with Maine Yoga Adventures).
I originally chatted with Holly back in July when she was just getting started with summer adventures that paired yoga with kayaking and wine tasting or paddleboarding and an afternoon of tennis.
This winter, the adventures are decidedly more snow-centric (because snow!) and last weekend I joined Holly and a half-dozen other women for a Climbing and Snowshoeing Adventure in Orono. The adventure included indoor rock climbing, a snowshoe trek through University Forest, a brewery tour (and complimentary pint!) and plenty of socializing. All in one afternoon. And all for just $50.
It took me a lot longer to make the drive from South Portland to Orono on Saturday, on account of all the snow piling up on 95 (snow is glorious…except when you’re trying to drive somewhere and the snow seems intent on pushing you into a ditch. On those occasions: drive slow or stay home). I arrived at Maine Bound Adventure Center, on the University of Maine campus, to climbing in progress.
Two women were steadily making their way up the rock wall while others cheered them on. The staff – who were also belaying – offered guidance on where to place a foot or where to reach next. I found out later, when I was on the wall and certain I could not go any higher, that they staff also knows when to tell you to just get to the top already because they know you can, even if you’re doubting yourself. (Admission: I doubted. But I’m easily influence by friendly threats from the person holding the rope – i.e. my LIFE – in her hands, so when she said, “I’m not letting you down unless you reach the top,” I decided to reach the top. Well played, belayer woman. Well played.)
After we’d exhausted our upper bodies on the rock wall, it was time to get outside into that splendid snow. Maine Bound provided snowshoes to anyone who didn’t bring her own and we carpooled to another part of campus closer to University Forest.
Now this is why I dig winter. It’s good-looking. And getting to meet new people out in the snow-covered woods is cool, too. We made our leisurely way along the trails, Holly stopping now and then to lead us in some yoga poses. The deep breaths felt great. Warrior stance was a piece of cake. We even managed to balance quite well on one foot (the snowshoes seemed to help).
Our final stop: Black Bear Brewing Co.’s Tap Room. Owner and brewmaster Tim Gallon gave us a tour of the brewery and we settled around the table with our pints of choice to socialize and enjoy some of Holly’s signature soup, which she’d made just for the occasion.
It was certainly a full afternoon. And it all happened in four hours. No joke. And it didn’t matter at all that I didn’t know a soul when I arrived. Everyone was chatty and welcoming and we kept together as a group (leave no man behind!). So if you’re hankering to get outside but you’re all, “I won’t know anyone” or “What if I can’t keep up?!” never fear. Maine Yoga Adventures has your back.
Here are some of the upcoming adventures (see them all here):
Winter Wonderland Adventure on Jan 23 at Fields Pond Audubon Center in Holden
(You will have over 100 acres to enjoy your choice of winter adventure options such as snowshoeing, cross country skiing, animal tracking or a simple jaunt around the building checking out the wildlife. Then there’s yoga and hot beverages.)
New England Outdoor Center Ski Adventure on Feb. 13 at New England Outdoor Center in Millinocket
(Tune up your cross country skiing skills in the shadow of Katahdin at a gorgeous destination, New England Outdoor Center (Twin Pines) in Millinocket! Enjoy a yoga practice and a classic ski clinic with a big finish of hot yummy soup and more.)
Maine Hut Adventure from Feb. 27-28 at Maine Huts & Trails
(The adventure begins a groomed ski trail that’s 7.8 miles and relatively flat. At the hut, enjoy some yoga, good food and good company.)