What does it mean to meet your edge in your practice?
Meeting your edge means coming to a place where your mind and/or your body begin to resist or feel challenged. Your immediate reaction is to stop. Your edge can be external (body) or internal (mind). Despite whether it is external or internal, you will know you have reached your edge when you begin to feel frustration, anger and insecurity toward yourself and/or the teacher.
Yet meeting your edge and moving beyond it are necessary for growth in your practice.
To meet our edge, we must first acknowledge it, for example, only being able to go so far into a pose before we begin to panic or our muscles give out. It is important to sit with this and see if it is an external edge (cannot go further physically) or an internal edge (our mind is holding us back). Then we can decide if we are at a point in our practice to safely move beyond our edge- do we want to safely push ourselves a bit further to overcome our fear? (Please note that safely means we are listening to cues in our body- if at any time we are feeling pain- we must back off- overcoming our edge is never worth injury).
Here are some tips to help you safely try to move beyond your edge- by either overcoming your fear or feeling stronger and steadier in a challenging pose.
Stay in the pose- when you reach your edge, the first response is often to come out of it. If you are not feeling pain or extreme discomfort, stay in the pose. I say extreme discomfort because part of meeting your edge is being able to sit with discomfort.
Breath into it- your breath is the most important tool you have- so use it! Try to take long deep breaths in the pose- this will calm the mind and the body while you sit with the challenge. If the quality of the breath is compromised- the breath is short and sporadic- back off a bit… you are pushing too hard
Contract and relax the muscles- if you feel that you are holding too tightly in the pose, try to contract and then relax the muscles. This will help your body to ease into the pose- if you are unable to relax the muscles at all – again you need to back off a bit.
Just remember that meeting and moving beyond your edge should never bring you harm. Always practice ahimsa- non-harming - even when meeting your edge. Your body responds to different poses differently, depending on what is occurring for you that day- so be kind to your body and mind.