Find your edge. Sound familiar? It's one of those ambiguous things that yoga teachers like to say when leading a class through especially challenging poses. But what does it mean? How do we find our edge and why should we do this?
The edge: the place you come to when you cannot move forward without flinging yourself to the ground. Everyone's edge is different. Our bodies and practices are unique to each one of us; so too is the proverbial edge. The edge can shift from day to day, moment to moment. It is the point in your practice at which you are compelled to release the pose, when your mind is rattling with the force of your sensations. It is the point at which you may begin to resent the instructor, or feel the need to label your sensations. It may be when you start to ask yourself, is this pain? When you must choose between analysing your sensation or mastery of the breath, when every ounce of your focus is required to maintain your steady breath, this is your edge.
When you have found your edge, stay. Stay with your breath. Do not allow the mind to be consumed by the significance of your sensations, good or bad. Use the breath to dissolve your sensation. Be compassionate. Do not push your body beyond its limitations. Rather, consider the possibility that your limitations may not be as inhibiting as they seem. Learn to navigate your edges with a quiet, receptive mind. Remain grounded in the stability beneath your feet, but don't be afraid to expand, stretch up and over and look beyond the edge. Explore with humility. You cannot know your edge unless you allow yourself to teeter terrifyingly over the brink once in a while.
Why do we do this? To practice at our edge is the best practice for life. In doing so, we train the mind to focus and function properly amid struggle and chaos. We learn to fully experience life and everything it has to offer, our minds and hearts unobstructed by fear and judgement. With practice, your awareness will grow and your compassion with it. You will learn to dance along your edge with the ease and lightness of a skilled funambulist along the length of a wire. You will inspire others to seek their own edge, to aim a little higher, to be a little better. In this way, we grow.