As a yoga teacher, I often talk about finding and exploring your ‘edge’. If you’ve been to one of my classes you may have heard me mention this before. A conversation a few days ago inspired me to explore the concept in more depth and I wanted to share my thoughts so you too can go deeper. And if you have NO idea what the edge is or why I’m talking about it, hopefully this post will give you some clarity!
Life Begins at The EDGE of Your Comfort Zone
It may sound like a pretty intimidating phrase, but I assure you there are no scary cliffs with this Edge! I like to see the edge like the end of the comfort zone. You may be exploring your edge in your life – maybe you are giving up something that does not serve you, or maybe you’re creating a new habit. Both of these can feel pretty uncomfortable at first, right! You are leaving behind familiar ground and moving into uncharted territory. Even a small shift can take a while before it feels effortless.
I heard a beautiful analogy for this just today – your mind likes to take the same path through a forest. The path is well trodden and familiar. However, this path is the same path that you have been on a million times before, and it does not serve you. It leads to negative feelings and is a repeat of an old story. Every time you walk down this path you are repeating a story that does not serve you.
It can take time to create a new path – you have to walk in a new direction. Weaving in between trees, with little to no familiarity. Even though this path is going to lead you somewhere better, and make you happier, it is new and feels strange. This is the same as creating a new neural pathway in your brain. It takes time and practice to forge a new path, but it does begin to feel natural.
This is the same as leaving your comfort zone – it feels bloody terrifying initially! Even though you know it will lead you somewhere better, you are walking the unfamiliar and it may be uncomfortable.
Meet the edge.
Exploring Your Edge on the Mat
Our Edge in our yoga practice is finding that same sense of exploration. It’s about leaving our comfort zone and moving into that uncharted territory – and paying attention to what comes up. Maybe we are leaning a little deeper in a forward fold. Maybe we’re working on a posture that we feel fearful of (in a safe way, ie with a teacher!). We’re not looking for pain for injury, rather we are looking to open a line of inquiry within ourselves. This allows us to notice what thoughts, beliefs and feelings appear when we are on the edge of comfort.
As I said before, this post is inspired by a recent conversation – with a guy who is really benefitting from Yin yoga. Yin yoga involves holding seated poses in stillness for at least 3-5 minutes. This can be really challenging because we have to sit with the sensations and emotions that come up – without running away. He said that the biggest benefit he has discovered through Yin is having a safe container with which to find his edge. Despite historic fear around his body’s capabilities, he has found that Yin is the perfect platform where he can sink deeper into a pose – and/or ease out if it feels like too much. It’s the constant ebb and flow of surrender and resistance that we experience on our mats which keeps us present, and exploring our edge.
For me, I prefer to find my edge in a strong and dynamic practice. I like to challenge my body’s physical limits, which are in actuality my mind’s limiting beliefs. I only realised in the last few years how my inner constant mantra was ‘I can’t’ – for the whole of my life up to that epiphany. This perceived lack of ability held me back from trying so many new things, but I now dedicate my entire existence to proving that limiting belief wrong. My mantra these days is ‘I can do this, I am doing this” and I take that message on to my mat daily. Powerful poses, controlled strong transitions and challenging old limiting beliefs have all taken me so much further in my mental resilience, as well as my physical strength.
Exploring Your Edge in Your Life
Back to the conversation that inspired this post. Te guy I spoke to explained that Yin yoga helped him to build mental resilience. He said that he was able to recognise that sitting in stillness with fear, trauma and discomfort helped him realise that these qualities aren’t as terrifying as we think they are. Although sensations can be intense at the start of a pose, they don’t get any stronger/worse. In fact, they can often ease off a lot when we relax into the posture. He feels stronger and more trusting of his body, and knows he has a space where he can simply sit with his thoughts, without fear of them.
I also feel so much stronger mentally than I ever have done. A huge part of that is thanks to my Vinyasa Flow yoga practice. I can challenge myself in my life ‘off the mat’ just as much as I do in my asana practice. I am able to say ‘yes’ to situations which previously would have been way out of familiar territory for me. I’ve expanded my comfort zone through taking the path less trodden. That said, I also feel safer through my decision making abilities. I know when to say ‘no’ as much as when to say ‘yes’. This is because I can practice life on the edge, but also know when slowing down and taking a step back is needed too.
This takes practice. But…
You won’t build up resilience, trust and confidence if you never let yourself find that edge.
Without challenging yourself, you won’t get physically and mentally stronger.
You will always say ‘no’ on autopilot to new things if you never explore stepping out of your comfort zone.
I definitely found that yoga was a vehicle to all of these qualities. My mat was the perfect place to practice challenging myself in a supportive space. As I deepen and advance my personal asana practice more, I find myself living an even fuller life.
Over To YOU!
I would love to hear your thoughts on this. What has your experience been? Have you found your edge and stepped out of your comfort zone through a style of yoga? Do you practice this concept in your life? Drop me a comment below, an email, or DM me on Instagram and let me know!