Thursday, February 6, 2014 —
We use the expression “find your edge” a lot in yoga. Basically this means to try to find stillness in a pose that is not too easy or too hard for you in the given moment. It is the space between. You want to feel sensation but not pain.
I like to think of it as a relationship with my yoga practice. If I am not deep enough in the pose, it is like having a boring conversation. It makes my mind wander around about other times and places and makes me want to go talk to someone else.
If I am too deep in the pose, it is like having conversation with someone who is too intense. It makes me uncomfortable and ready to put up my defenses. If I can find my edge, it is like hanging out with someone who stimulates my mind and keeps me interested and open to sharing.
The only way to find your edge is to go beyond it. That is where fear comes in. We can get very comfortable with being comfortable, but change and growth do not happen when we are cozy. A balanced yoga practice consists of peace, contentment, fear, messiness and acceptance. Fortunately or unfortunately, you have to run into fear and messiness to be able to truly experience those happy places.
I always say that I do not feel the need to sky dive or bungee jump or thrill seek because I step in front of my fears every day on my mat.
When I press deeper in side angle pose (Parsvakon-asana), I get just a little afraid of feeling too much. I slow down my breath and focus until I come back to a calm mind. When I set myself up for a headstand (Sirsasana), I never forget that I might flip over and crash onto my back. I take my time and remind myself it is OK whether I get up or not and that if I do end up falling down, I will be OK and get to feel humble for a moment.
When I prepare for an arm balance, I am completely aware that I can fall flat on my face because I have many times before. When I lengthen my spine and lift my arms before a seated forward fold (Pachimottanasana), I remember that my hamstrings might hurt, as they often do from pulled and overused muscles. It is a chance I take and I am never sorry that I did.
While seeking my edge, the one thing I can finally leave behind is competitiveness with myself or anyone else. Our bodies and minds are different each time we step onto our mats and it is not fair or kind to expect the same of ourselves every day.
We honor our bodies the way they are right now, all the time. They got this way from all of the experiences that have sewn us into the beautifully brave and amazing quilts that we all are.
Cindy Brewer, E-RYT, is a certified oga and pilates teacher and the owner of Albemarle Pilates and Yoga. For information, go to www.albemarlepilates andyoga.com.