Adventures off the Mat: Play on the Santa Monica Pier

Photography by Nir Livni

The Santa Monica Pier is one of Los Angeles’ great landmarks. Jutting out into the Pacific at the foot of Colorado Avenue, this 106-year old tourist attraction is the final destination of famed Route 66; it offers spectacular views of the ocean, bluffs, and mountain ranges, while providing thousands of meandering pedestrians a great deal of entertainment all its own. 

In its early incarnation circa 1916, it was known as The Pleasure Pier. Constructed by amusement park pioneers Charles Looff and his son Arthur, this promenade eventually included roller coasters, Wurlitzer organs, merry-go-rounds and even a fun house. Today the Pier is home to Pacific Park, which houses the world’s only solar-powered Ferris Wheel. In addition, the pier offers a yearly line-up of community-enriching events including the Twilight Concert Series, Cycle for Heroes, Opera on the Pier, and even “Roga” (Saturday morning group running and yoga held in six week series two-three times a year).

Walking the Pier, cotton candy or coconut water in hand, evokes nostalgia and magic and whatever our age, induces childlike delight. This enchantment can be applied to our yoga practice when we come to the mat with enthusiasm, and a willingness to let go and just play. We can twist out practicality and invert our perspective, finding magic in the mundane, and weaving a spell of joy and laughter.

By practicing looking inward at our own childlike longing for fun and freedom, we are able to find entertainment in the ordinary, and delight in our day to day. The Pier reminds us, that even as adults, we can balance our everyday sensibleness with a ride or two around a vintage carousel.

Elise Joan teaches yoga at Equinox and Exhale (among other locations). She created an online yoga/fitness site that lets you build and save your own yoga and workout playlists from 10 minutes to two hours:

Elise is wearing Run Jump Jump ‘N Twist Crop in Viola and Twistie Tank in Seattle Mist. For more information visit