by: Michelle Finerty
I am a person who needs my routine. I need to have my regular schedule of work, yoga, and meditation, with a little room to add in the other things that come up in life. Usually this works out quite well. I have a good balance of what is important to me, and rarely feel overwhelmed with trying to juggle everything, as I’ve learned the importance of adding space to my schedule.
Over the years, I've come to realize that there are many benefits associated with being routine-oriented, in my life on and off the mat. I am efficient, punctual, reliable, and organized. However, there have been times where my need for routine has created conflict, stress, and even the feeling of being stuck in a rut.
It's at these times that I've been lucky enough to have the ability, both in time and support from loved ones, to figure out what is going on inside me and decide what direction to go. Usually that direction involves getting out of my comfort zone, learning something new, and expanding my definition of who I am.
Trying new things not only alleviates boredom, but pushes you past the limits we all tend to impose upon ourselves, and causes growth in the process. It's challenging to try something new. It requires letting go of the old, your comfort zone, and your current beliefs—which may be getting in your way!
If you're looking for ways to start something new on the mat, here are three that have worked for me:
There are so many different styles of yoga to choose from, so why not try something different? You can either change the style of yoga by switching from a gentle to a power yoga class (or vice versa) or you can move up to the next level by seeking out classes for more advanced practitioners. You can even add more om to your practice by finding classes that include chanting and meditating.
We all have our favorite poses. I love Pigeon for the deep hip opening it provides, and I love Arm Balancing poses because they are a challenge I can master time after time. But sometimes it’s nice to try something different and open up a new area of your body or explore a different type of challenge.
If you’ve been going to the same class on a regular basis, you are probably seeing a lot of the same people each time. Reach out and say “Hi!” Take a moment to connect with them by asking what they like in the class and what they do outside of yoga. Part of attending a class is becoming part of a community.
If you're looking for ways to start something new off the mat, I can also recommend the following:
It’s comforting to know you can go to the same restaurant in your hometown on a Friday night and relax at the end of the week with good friends and food. However, it can also limit your experience of your town and start to feel stifling. Instead, explore different types of restaurants in town, or venture out a little wider and see what you find.
It’s easy to listen to the same songs day after day, but at some point, the music becomes background noise when it can do so much more to add to your day. When I get to this space, one of my favorite things to do is to try a different kind of music like classical or salsa. Something to get my brain activated and focused on a new rhythm.
If you are more of a texter (like me!), call someone and have a conversation. It doesn’t have to be a long conversation, but it can connect you on a deeper level. One of my closest friends helped me realize that instead of calling her I would text because calling took more time and I’m the kind of person who efficiently manages my time. However, what I didn’t realize until she brought it to my attention was that my approach was cold and impersonal and didn’t do justice to the friendship we have.
Enjoy exploring all of the possibilities that await you! As Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. said, "A life that has been stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions."