Have you ever walked right up to the edge of a cliff and looked over? There’s a sense of exhilaration (maybe some anxiety) but ultimately a freedom that you went there, and looked beyond while staying firmly grounded.
During teacher training, my mentors talked a lot about finding “your edge” that I’ve since passed onto my students. In your yoga practice, the edge is that place that you go to and just release. Any farther would be too much, and any less would not be enough. You would think that getting to your edge is the difficult part, but for many western practitioners — who have been bred to be the best, go the farthest, jump the highest — resisting the temptation to push ourselves is the hardest thing to do.
Think about the pose in which your ego steps in and says, “let’s do it, let’s push through and be the best.” In my early days as a student, that pose was Dancer’s Pose (Natarajasana). I would see beautiful pictures of women on the covers of magazines and websites effortlessly holding the standing, one-legged backbend with a smile. I remember being so frustrated that my body wouldn’t do what likely took years of cultivating. Then I heard the words, “find your edge.”
I began to back off and find a grounded ease in simply holding my left foot in my hand behind my back, while balanced on my right leg. At first, that was my edge. As I allowed my body to progress at it’s own pace — stretching, opening, relaxing — I found that I was able to gradually find a deep, steadiness in the pose and it happened without “trying.” I got there without plummeting off of the cliff.
Now, think again about the pose that challenges your ego. The next time you step on the mat, see if you can go to your edge in the pose, let go of resistance and hover. I’ve borrowed this phrase from Sean Tebor and use it quite liberally in my teachings, “You’ll get there faster, if you go slower.”
- Your Charmed Yogi