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We’ve all done it. When you know you’re at your limit and you push yourself just a little too far…and then you‘ve done it. You’ve gone over your edge. It may be your edge of patience with others and you say something you don’t want to. It could be your edge with exercise and you get injured. Maybe you went over your edge with food and you feel really uncomfortable, or even your edge at work and you feel exhausted and depleted. Often in exercise you will hear “push through your edge” but in yoga we are more interested in exploring that place where we feel pushed and uneasy. Everyone’s edges are different. Some people hit the edge quickly while others have more room to move up against them without slipping over.

Yoga postures are the perfect training ground for dancing with your edges.

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What ever that edge is for you it is a constant dance to negotiate what is the right amount of push and the right amount of stepping back and letting go. Yoga postures are the perfect training ground for dancing with your edges. They give you the opportunity to both find your edges and work with them. They teach us how to move in close and get curious about what we notice there. By relaxing on the edge, we open up a little more space and comfort in our bodies and even our minds. We become interested and open while still honoring the boundaries of our body. Often in exercise you will hear “push through your edge” but in yoga we are more interested in exploring that place where we feel pushed and uneasy.

Negotiating Your Edge in Postures

In his book, Moving into Stillness, Yoga teacher and author Erich Shiffmann writes:

“A large part of the art and skill in yoga lies in sensing just how far to move into a stretch. If you don’t go far enough, there is no challenge to the muscles, no intensity, no stretch, and little possibility for opening. Going too far, however, is an obvious violation of the body, increasing the possibility of both physical pain and injury. Somewhere between these two points is a degree of stretch that is in balance: intensity without pain, use without abuse, and strenuousness without strain. You can experience this balance in every posture you do. Sensing where your edges are and learning to hold the body there with awareness, moving with its often-subtle shifts can be called “playing the edge.”

Notice Your Sensations

When you come into a pose, move slowly enough to notice the first sensations without rushing past them. These sensations often appear as a feeling of “stretch” or resistance (either physical or emotional). As you notice this edge, or place of resistance, pause for a moment and breathe. Let yourself soften with each breath. You may notice that resistance disappears with several breaths. As you notice the sensations lifting, you may feel the invitation to move deeper. If you push, you will create even more resistance. Don’t let the mind bully the body into position, rather wait for the body to offer you an invitation to move deeper. As you do this over and over it will feel as if you have romanced yourself into a deeper, more relaxed, and more joyful experience in the pose. Joy is the key. The practice of yoga postures is meant to be a joyful experience rather than a struggle or a burden.

Safety Through Listening to Your Body

As you work with yourself, observe how the body opens when it feels safe. Safety comes when we honor the body by listening deeply. The more you create a safe space through listening, the more you will expand your sensitivity to our own body. When you practice your yoga postures in this way, it begins to inform your daily life. Your life becomes part of this dance of when to move and when to pause and listen. You may find that you are more sensitive to yourself and to others as life takes on a more graceful flow.

How do you know when you’ve hit your edge?

Contributed by

Susi Amendola
Stress Management Specialist

What have you done to remind yourself of the things that have meaning for you?

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