Edges, ReconsideredJul 12, 2023
Does shift only happen at the edges?
Yes, but not always in the way we might think.
Your edges are the frontiers of your practice, the limits where something is about to happen. Joel Kramer coined the term in a 1977 article, saying “The body has edges that mark its limits in stretch, strength, endurance, and balance. ...This edge has a feeling of intensity, and is right before pain, but it is not pain itself.”
The way we approach our edges, therefore, is essential for experiencing shifts in our practice.
I believe that there times when it's appropriate not to work at your edges and that there are other edges that are equally important to consider in your practice.
For many years, I was part of a yoga community where we were always encouraged to go to the “next level” with the intention of continually achieving harder poses and more challenging actions. Sometimes this was inspiring to me. It motivated me to set goals and helped me to bring energy and enthusiasm to my practice. I often felt a sense of achievement and being rewarded for my hard work.
At other times, though, it felt exhausting.
There was always a sense that I wasn’t doing enough. I was never content with where I was, and that was the point. Over time, I realized that this approach was feeding into a habitual pattern of self-criticism. It brought a persistent quality of striving and dissatisfaction in my practice. Over time, I learned that another facet of working your edge is how you respect your limits and manage your internal dialogue.
How would your experience of yoga change if - in addition to strength, flexibility, balance, and endurance - you considered the edges of your sensitivity, self-acceptance, and compassion as equally important for your progress in yoga?