In today’s world of Yoga, exploring our edge is something heard often - what exactly does that mean? It involves leaving that much loved zone of comfort in order to find real area for growth, having the bravery to peer into into the uncertainty of not knowing yet wanting to discover, whilst testing the limits.
In the legendary ancient Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali, Sutra 2.46 mentions ‘Sthira Sukham Asanam’, ‘Sthira’ meaning unwavering/stability and ‘Sukham’ being comfortable/sweetness. In regards to postures and edge exploration, this can be seen as applying a subtle effort to find that sweet spot right between the ease and the challenge. (On a cliff edge, you would have the perfect view of below without being blown off the top).
It’s important to recognise where that point is that we are not quite willing to go past due to discomfort; to be able to encourage ourselves to move past this slightly in order to grow; yet to also be aware of what it is we are presently (physically and mentally) capable of so as not to push ourselves out of reach. Not being patient with our own growth, as we may sometimes learn the hard way, can result in injury or burnout, leaving for a long recovery period. A tree doesn’t grow overnight!
Camel’s pose is one Asana that practicioners in general tend to find difficult to manoeuvre, understandably (the phrase ‘bending over backwards’ comes to mind!). Arching the back, expanding the chest and allowing the head to fall behind you is no easy feat. This is a posture I struggled with for quite a while, even having the advantage of being pretty flexible in the spinal area. I would have to take care not to strain my body and only hold the pose for short moments at a time. Guidance to help me trust myself and assists to ease the strain during classes were much appreciated. Each time, I would further explore my capabilities. This is where I learnt to really explore my edge in depth.
Here’s some points I find useful during exploration:
How does this pose make you feel - physically, emotionally, etc?
Can you find a sense of calm in the discomfort?
Do you feel a sense of groundedness - connection through the roots, with stability?
Are you being kind, yet firm with yourself?
Can you go past the limit you’ve set yourself, by breathing through it?
Can you realise your potential from here?
No two moments are the same in life and likewise your edge will be different every day. Mentally and physically challenging, but not so much that discomfort is overwhelming... I’ve found that exploring this edge of ours is about becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable. The feeling should be one of sweet stability, where you are able to see where you’re heading whilst remaining just past where you already are.
As is realised once we begin to practise yoga, the main teachings are those off the mat. What we learn can be applied to any situation in everyday life. Know your limitations; respect your boundaries; explore the unknown; listen to your body’s needs; take your time and live through the philosophy of applying subtle effort to make progress, little by little every day.
It’s called our edge for a reason… the most thrilling place to be, with the most insightful perspective - just take care not to fall off!