Among my friends are two former yoga
teachers, both of whom quit teaching (and practicing) because of
chronic pain that began with yoga and improved with the end of yoga.
I’m flummoxed by this. Did they not
find the right kind of yoga for their lives? Did they feel so
conflicted about the business of teaching yoga that their bodies
rebelled? Could they not find this “edge” we keep hearing about?
Intelligent edge, intense edge, edge of discomfort, going beyond your edge, working with your edge. In yoga, this Goldilocks edge is huge: finding
the balancing point between too much and too little practice,
overdoing and underdoing each pose, all the while expanding our
definition of who we are on the mat.
I appreciate this edge in my own
practice. Some days (some weeks, some seasons), feeling solid and
trusting, I’m drawn to exploring the deepest, secret spots in a
stretch, the hip and shoulder spots that have had “Keep Out”
signs on them for most of my life. And when I’m ready to peek into those places, it happens incrementally and at my own pace. I enter those rooms one brave step at a time. No matter who is teaching me or how big the class is,
that kind of stretching is a private matter.
On those same confident days, I
approach strength challenges by saying, “Bring it on, honey,
because I can fling the universe over my shoulder and carry her up a flight of stairs.” Name the challenge and I’ll double it.
Other days, weeks, and seasons, all I
want is restoration, peace, and Arrowroot cookies. No push, please.
This edge is completely personal and in
constant flux. I can’t imagine anyone but me knowing where it might
To complicate things, the edge is far
more comprehensive than I’m suggesting so far. On some days I want
to be instructed. On some days I do not, thanks. Some days I resist
everything that’s good for me. Some days I allow good things to
pour into my life. Some days I’m pushing everything (got to, have
to, should) and some days I hum a cooperative tune with all that is. There are edges everywhere you look, many of my own invisible to me,
all of mine invisible to anyone but me.
I don’t know, then, how to explain
the teachers who love to sit on my back during a forward bend in
order to “take me to my edge.”
(Nor can I explain how it is that
sometimes I love that push, even though I came to class wanting an
I don’t know how to explain the huge
numbers of yoga students and teachers who injure themselves.
My own approach? My edge is my
business, my responsibility, and my pleasure to explore. I appreciate
my teachers, but no one knows my path better than me.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on
your edge(s). I have a lot to learn.
Thanks to yoga for being endlessly
interesting. Thanks to you, always, for the conversation,