I’ve often wondered what it meant when yoga teachers encouraged you to ‘find your
edge’ in a yoga pose. What did that mean, exactly? I seemed to only “find” my edge
once I had gone over it and woken up with a sore hamstring or a large bruise. Also,
how was one to know when you were getting near to that edge? It seemed lazy to
never push yourself and I didn’t want to fall prey to my mind telling me to go slow
out of fear or mental discomfort. Finding my edge was a puzzle.
During a yoga class recently, I learned that your breath was an excellent indicator of
your edge. I’m sure this had been uttered in other classes over the years but for
some reason this never resonated with me before. Maybe because it took me a while
to steadily breath without effort or gentle reminders from the instructor. Once I
began to let the breath help guide and deepen my asana practice, instead of doing it
just because I knew I was supposed to, everything changed.
Controlling your breath, known as pranayama, is one of the eight limbs of yoga and
one of the most familiar to those new to yoga besides the physical practice or asana.
Learning to focus on your breath will transform your yoga practice and the benefits
will be pretty evident early on. It is also a wonderful way to check in with yourself. If
you find yourself holding your breath, or if your breath is getting ragged or short,
you are likely surpassing your edge. Backing off, even just a little, until your breath,
your mind, and your body become steady and tranquil is an excellent way to learn
just how far your can take your practice on that day.
Remember, each day is different. Your mind will still try and lead you in directions
that are not necessarily right for your body but you don’t have to believe everything
you think. Listen to your breath. It won’t let you down.