April 21, 2022 2 min read
The first time I heard that slogan was back in the 90’s. It was the take-home message in a TV advertisement for responsible gambling. It must have been a great ad, because that phrase implanted itself into my memory for decades, conveniently available for recall when cued by this topic.
As a yoga teacher, I am always dissecting my most commonly used phrases to make sure they are more than just slogans. “Find your edge” is one such piece of advice I frequently offer my students, especially in a yin yoga class. While the meaning may be intuitive to some, it’s wise to unpack the deeper meaning and methodology behind this principle.
The edge is the sweet spot. In yoga asana practice, it’s the place where you feel a deep sensation, without causing pinching or pain. It’s the tipping point between “not enough” and “too much.” The edge is the perfect balance between these two extremes which allows the body and mind to feel safe enough to open up and embrace change.
Knowing your edge is key to preventing overstretching without inhibiting progress. In the practice of yin yoga, discovering your edge is especially valuable, as long held postures can unintentionally cause overstretching if the cues of your body are ignored. Conversely, Yin postures can be too passive to improve flexibility if the yoga practitioner doesn’t take the postures to their true potential.
To find your edge, enlist the power of your breath. Pace and depth can serve as an indicator - when your breathing becomes short and rapid it may be necessary to slightly back out of the pose to restore a smooth and deep breath. By continuously coming back to your breath you can send signals to your nervous system that you are safe, which in turn can encourage your muscles to relax, opening up a greater capacity to stretch.
It’s also important to become familiar with the feeling of stretching and how it differs from forcing. The more you stretch the more you will be able to pick up sensations that go beyond what is beneficial. Aim to avoid pulling or sharp pain and instead, lean into the feeling of slow gradual increases in flexibility.
Key Take-Aways to Remember