The view from the edge of a mountain is one many of us only see in photos. Imagine if you could witness that sight every day. Feel the wind blowing through your hair, and the sun’s warmth dancing on your skin. You are one step from danger, yet totally free.
That’s the idea of the edge. Whether it’s literal mountains or our own metaphorical edges in life: physical edges, emotional edges, spiritual edges and beyond. It’s said life is a game of give and take … and finding your edge is not far off from that. Let’s say yoga is a game of finding your edge.
Amanda Marshall once sang, “Everybody’s got a story that could break your heart.” We don’t have to look far to find those tragic stories. Turn on the news or scroll through your newsfeed, and you’ll find a few. But when’s the last time you delved into your own story? We don’t need to search outside of ourselves to find our deepest stories — in other words, our edge.
Let’s break it down: Your edge is your highest tolerance for pain before breaking. That could be the three breaths you take in chair pose so you don’t collapse to the floor, or the three breaths you take during an argument to keep yourself from retaliating. In yoga, we’re training our minds and bodies to work in unison to better our well-being instead of allowing our mind and body to work against each other.
The edge is simply a training tool we can use to strengthen ourselves from the inside out. Let’s go back to that grueling chair pose for a moment — and yes, feel free to literally stand up and find a squat as you read this.
STEP 1: STOP BLAMING OTHERS FOR THE UNCOMFORTABLE SENSATIONS YOU FEEL
In this case, we can all agree that a long chair pose is enough to make us want to curse the teacher out. Especially when we’re stuck in the chair pose and he or she is walking around. That’s step one of finding your edge.
STEP 2: LOCATE WHERE THE PAIN IS COMING FROM
OK, so you’re still in this chair pose and you’ve stopped getting mad at the teacher. But you still feel the burn deep in your quads and glutes. In a chair pose the pain is in the quads and glutes. This is a critical part of the process because if we don’t know where the suffering is coming from, we cannot name it and let it go.
STEP 3: SOFTEN
You relax your shoulders, your face, your hands, your neck, your arms … everything. You soften everything you possibly can so that all of your effort can go to the spots that need it most. You stop wasting your precious energy.
Often, the greatest joy we know comes after the greatest pain we’ve ever felt. Yoga is about being in a pose that is strong but relaxed.
What is the view like from your edge today? It could be a peaceful dinner with a loved one. An ongoing argument with a friend. No matter the view, always know that there will be some painful things that you have to experience on and off the mat.
How you respond to a two-minute chair pose — with sweat dripping down your face and your legs shaking — is to wait for that moment when you want to leave most. But instead of fighting it, and instead of fleeing from it, you remind yourself you have a third option: breathe. Breathe into your chair pose today and find areas you can soften and things you can let go of to make the load easier to carry.
Then take that into your life and use it to soften when your first reaction might be to harden.
GEAR UP FOR YOUR NEXT YOGA SESSION