Updated: Jul 27, 2020
As a yoga teacher, I spend nearly every day of the week attending classes taught by peers and mentors for the practice, the growth, the community, the inspiration and sharing.
I recently attended a mentor's yoga practice, designed as an "Intermediate" level class. Five minutes into the practice I started to wonder if I had clicked the wrong Zoom link and stumbled my way into an advanced class online. I couldn't believe I was already dripping with sweat, muscles aching and shaking, and feeling as if I'd just gone for an intense run. I sat on my mat, thanking the "Online Webiverse" gods that I could not be heard or seen cursing through my attempt to enter a challenging pose. It's important to note here that my mentor was very clear that this can be a challenging pose, and offered multiple modifications- the choice to attempt the full expression of the pose was mine, and mine alone. That being said, if you're familiar with my general attitudinal work- some call it stubborn, I like to think of it as dedicated- I threw the chips down on the table and said, "All in."
As I'm setting up the posture, I'm nervous and already feeling frustrated with the challenge. I start to go a little further toward the full expression of the pose. I'm engaging my core, I'm playing with lifting my feet off the ground...one foot...both feet...ugh...try again...one foot...both feet. The nerves are shifting into excitement. For a moment I feel the glory of trying something I had never been able to do before. For a moment, I am the pose. Then....splat! I fall right on my face. I can't share the string of expletives that came out of my mouth at this time, but I can assure you, they probably would've made a sailor cringe. I sat there, with waves of different feelings washing over me...and then the laughing began. I laughed so hard I started crying. The laughter started to settle into an acceptance of what my body wanted to do today, and what it didn't.
At the end of the practice what stuck with me was the question my mentor posed throughout our time together: Where is your edge? Can you embrace the challenge?
The challenge for me, and maybe for others out there reading this, is honoring my body. Honoring what my body wants to do safely, and listening to it throughout a pose to find my edge in that moment. The edge changes. My edge a month ago is not the same edge I approach today. The landscape is different, the feelings are different, and my ability to be observant of that edge is different. Falling on your face is not a bad thing, despite how badly it may feel in the moment. Falling on your face, losing your balance, only being able to enter part of a pose, or not being able to do a pose at all- these are all moments to embrace and to learn from. Of course, safety is always a priority, thus there is some degree of mindful treading here; however, the challenge is to navigate the way to your edge, wherever that lies with you today.
Ram Dass said it best, "Start from where you are- not where you wish you were. The work you are doing becomes your path." These words can be so powerful in their encouragement to honor your present, as you journey toward your future. Your edge doesn't need to be pretty. You don't have to look like you just effortlessly stepped out of a page in a yoga magazine. In fact, your edge may look a lot like my edge: sweaty, shaky, expletives flying left and right.
What I urge-because this is what I am learning in my own journey to the edge- is that you embrace the challenge of finding your edge with a light touch. Whether it's with loving kindness, or levity, or somewhere in between- be good to yourself. Show up. Enter your journey exactly as you are and be open to change, because you will change, and you will learn. You will find what works best for you, and you may discover that those really difficult things start to become a little less difficult over time. You can be stubborn, you can go "All in," you can fall on your face (safely!), but I encourage you to do so with respect and acknowledgement for where you are right now, and let go of the inner-chatter that prevents you from finding your edge again.
Jai Bhagwan. I honor the light within you. May your yoga be victorious. ✌🏻❤️🧘♀️