In yoga we are continually being reminded to work toward our edge- but not over it. The “edge” can be described as the place of most resistance. There may even be some pain at your edge. (Pain in yoga should never be sharp and should never be felt in the joints.) However, we can’t always expect complete ease in postures. Describing yoga as a “gentle” practice is a bit of a misnomer. Not all the edges we explore in yoga are soft, warm and fuzzy.
We find the spot where we are asking the body permission to meet our boundaries and explore them fully. In order to explore these “edges” we need to first cultivate awareness. The kind of awareness most useful in yoga is that of a non-judgmental observer, overseeing whatever it is that arises with an open, receptive acceptance. This way of passively observing our body helps us to cultivate calm and learn to trust ourselves… resisting the urge to work from habitual responses- pushing too much, using energy unwisely and risking injury or holding back out of fear.
By observing what unfolds on the mat as we practice we can best learn to “be in the moment” with no preconceived idea of what our practice will look like on any particular day. The body changes from day to day. When we learn to quietly observe ourselves we develop a respect for our intuition and begin to cultivate a love of truth.
Donna Farhi, the insightful yogi from New Zealand, says this in her book “Bringing Yoga to Life”: “Through this inner guidance, we learn to wait for opening moments when the body says yes and allows us to go farther into a movement. We also learn to pause respectfully at the edge of our resistance and to listen to the body’s no. Working in this way, we open up new pathways without injuring ourselves, it will undoubtedly be a change that we can integrate into our whole being.”
Viewed this way, we learn neither to crave nor to fear what lies beyond our edge. In being present in each moment, remaining curious and playful, the edge no longer feels so close to the abyss!