Routines. They're what keep us sane and grounded. We fall into them relatively easily and find it difficult to break them. And often, they're an easy and mindless transition from our work selves to our personal selves - and this can be comforting after a long and hard day.
But every so often we're given the opportunity to challenge ourselves to break out of these routines helping us reflect. Sometimes we look past these challenges and decide to leave our routine in tact for that day; but other times we get that itch - that little voice that tells us this could be really, really interesting. And these are the moments when we should take the challenge, step out of our comfort zones, and scratch that itch.
My experience at Santa Monica Yoga was the first yoga adventure I'd been on outside of my comfort zone in almost a year. I like to sweat - Ashtanga, Hatha and Moksha therefore being my yoga practices of choice. But I was in for a pleasant and unexpected surprise. The studio was locked up when I got there. As I waited for the door to be unlocked I walked into a small room with a wall of yoga apparel, skidless towels, and other accessories. The people hanging around the studio were very pleasant; we chatted about what brought me to Santa Monica, and then they gave me a quick tour of the studio.
Santa Monica Yoga is unlike any studio I frequent; it's a very quaint yet spacious place - very little is over-embellished or exaggerated. There is a complete sense of simplicity - this same sense calms you as soon as you step inside escaping from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. The teacher, Catherine McDonough walked in. We had a brief conversation about my time in the LA area and she asked me how my body was feeling and really took the time to find out about my practice. She knew all the other students by first name and seemed to take a genuine interest in the relationships she had made with these people. Emotionally, I was touched. But mentally, I was prepared for a workout - to get my blood boiling and my temperature rising. Catherine, however, had something else in mind. She easily transitioned between Yin and Kundalini, amongst other forms of yoga; slowing the pace of the class and taking the time to focus on the details.
I left the class completely relaxed and in a state of Pacific Coast zen. I sat on the curb of Ocean Park and was reminded of why I began to practice yoga in the first place. It was never all about the benefits of toning or strengthening (though these are great additions), it was about the simple focus, that sense of calm, but most of all that inhale followed closely by that exhale.
Often times we go through our lives trapped by these monotonous routines, and we forget why or how we fell into them to begin with. We live life through a day-planner with schedule on top of schedules on top of to-do lists. So won't you take a moment in your day to challenge yourself, to step out of your comfort zone, to do one thing that scares you? Do yoga at a new studio, walk to work instead of drive, do yoga instead of spinning, do spinning instead of yoga, try bellydancing, or maybe just smile at a stranger! Regardless of what stepping out of your comfort zone means to you, whether they are big steps or little steps, get out there and live. Creativity is maximized when we're living in the moment.