I had an amazing yoga practice this morning. I never know how it will take me, I just show up on the mat and trust that all will be well. This morning, my teacher used the expression ‘exploring your edge’. It’s the first time I’ve heard it for a while and I knew exactly what she meant. Let’s explore more.
What does it mean?
There are many yoga texts that will explain this slightly differently. My understanding is that it is the place where I’m challenged enough in the posture to be completely alert and focused whilst not being overwhelmed. It’s where I’m conscious of the limit of how supple I am in my body and mind and yet still have enough control to hold it there whilst exploring whether there is any more to move into. It’s quite magical really, both exhilarating and rich with awareness. Exploring brings a sense of time slowing, and inward reflection whilst acknowledging that there’s a risk of going too far. It often feels like a sweet spot, a tiny space to balance and observe. Oooh, I get shivers just thinking about it!
In yoga, it’s very possible to approach the practice from an exercise perspective with the asanas providing movement, strength and posture training. If we approach it like this, it’s possible that we might be full steam ahead, skipping from pose to pose without exploring the depth, possibly missing a space to go deeper. And, some days, this might be just what you need; there’s no rule about how to do yoga.
Exploring your edge – beyond yoga
What struck me was that all of this doesn’t only apply to yoga. The more I think about it, the more I can see how much this applies to life. If we just bowl on through, not looking right or left, focusing on our destination, we’ll get on just fine. But what if we miss out on what ‘the edge’ has to offer? What if we miss the opportunity to stretch and grow, not experiencing that place where we can ask ‘what else?’ Of course, there are times in life (perhaps in survival mode) where not looking right or left is exactly what we have to do to get by. But, when this becomes the norm, and our body and mind never experience flow or thrive; we may not fulfil our best life.
How to find and explore your ‘edge’?
As you approach your edge in something, (whether yoga, other sport, relationship etc) consider things from the perspective of your body, mind and soul. What’s it like? Does one aspect feel more comfortable than another? (If exploring things from a soul perspective is not your thing, don’t worry, simply stick to your body and mind.) Where do you notice the challenge first?
This place will be unique to you. And, tomorrow, it may be different.
Ask yourself; what’s it like here? Can I breathe easily? What happens if I just take a moment and breathe some more? Where do I feel it most? Am I feeling enough, (this may be physically, mentally, emotional or in some other way) or can I stretch and expand to more? How do I know this is my edge? How did I get here? Which ways can I describe any discomfort?
Once at your edge, just explore what it’s like to go past it, gently, safely. This isn’t the opportunity to ignore what you’re experiencing, but helps you to understand whether this really is your edge. It’s important to keep listening.
Then, take a metaphorical step back. Consider the edge again and, this time, approach slowly, observing with all of your senses what’s happening. Can you give it a different shape? Can you move it in a slightly different direction? How do you hold this place to let things settle? Notice how the sensations come to you rather than chasing them. Does the edge arrive earlier than before because you actually didn’t take any notice of it last time, but just pushed on through? Does it look or feel different to last time? In fact, is it now not an edge at all, but an opportunity? What can you learn that will be useful in the future?
And, is there more?
What if this concept might exist in even more places? What about for your children? Helping the next generation find, hold and stretch their edge is what Happy Brain is all about. I also think this can apply to my dog and horses and bear it in mind in my relationship with them and their training too. And, if we work together along with your horse in your training, we’ll explore it there too.
Of course, one of the best ways to experience and work with your edge is with support. So, this might be a yoga teacher, a best friend, or a coach – you choose. Having someone alongside will allow you to explore fully whilst feeling safe.