01.03.2021 Yoga

Exploring the Yoga Edge

Katrina Thomson shares her own personal understanding of what it means to be ‘real’ in yoga

Last month, I wrote ‘Finding Your Yoga’, my first submission for NOVA, and it is an absolute pleasure to be invited to contribute monthly. Now, aside from the ‘Wow what a pleasure to be asked to write for such an awesome holistic community!’ buzz, it also had me freaked out. Contemplating what to write last month, had me not only asking myself what should I write, but also, will it be good enough? I felt very vulnerable exposing my experience and interpretation of yoga. How can I connect the subject and write in an authentic voice?

After the introspection, what resonates is setting my intention to just be real, to share what practising yoga is all about for me, and it is this: radical self acceptance while exploring your ‘edge’.

The edge of your asana (physical posture) is when you observe if the level you have physically pushed yourself to still holds integrity. You can monitor this with your breath, noticing if the breath becomes rigid or held; if so, you may be straining to hold the posture past your sustainable level.

Once you make this honest connection, you can work towards the edge by focusing on what will give you greater strength and focus, always coming back to the even rhythm of your breath. Some days though you may need to accept that you just need to edge it back a bit for you to not compromise the honesty in your practice.

Now you are practising one of the eight limbs past the physical asana: the Yamas.

To practise Satya (truthfulness) and Aparigraha (non-possessiveness), can you keep at the forefront of ‘your yoga’ honesty and let go of the need to ‘do’? Can you observe what will keep you real, and be patient in your process as you work towards your next edge?

Working towards the next edge of your alignment and more challenging asana, has many benefits too. Not only will you become physically and mentally stronger, but previous blocks and barriers will break down. Non attachment to the destination will give you space to enjoy the journey. Be inspired to achieve your desire, while letting go of any idealism or feeling intimidated.

This is much easier said than done, but that is why yoga is referred to as ‘your practice’. As with anything else you practise, each repetition yields strengthening. Set this as your intention: repeat not only the postures until you feel prepared for the next physical edge, but also the mantras of self acceptance and patience.

Get real with yourself and what yoga invites you to explore.

One of the reasons so many people injure themselves in this practice is because of the attachment to ‘doing’ rather than being guided by feeling. If you are so bent on touching your toes when your body is in fact not ready to go so deep and you tear your hamstrings, not only will you have an injury which takes a long time to properly heal, but you will have totally lost the purpose of what yoga is about.

The asana are metaphors; a forward fold is the release and acceptance of oneself, and really has nothing to do with touching your toes.

When you let go of your need to touch your toes, and you release into space with time guided by your breath, then you may be surprised at the body’s response when treated with such consideration.

This applies to when you are ready for advanced asana, such as headstands, where you need to have strong foundations to allow the body to float upside down. Only when I let go of the need to get my legs above my head, and am focused on the foundations which support me do I ease into the inversion safely.

Taking the lessons of the ‘yoga edge’ off the mat is where you will receive the real benefits of this practice.

Stopping to observe the same triggers you may experience when challenged in a class environment will give you an opportunity to reflect and feel into your response when these thoughts or feelings stir in your everyday life.

When you are tested and feel anxious, insecure, frustrated, scared or judgmental, rather than get wrapped up in the story to justify why you currently feel that way, instead pause to inquire why you are on edge.

Yoga invites you to be honest, and let go of your expectations while encouraging you to evolve.

Can you embrace this same method in the various avenues of your life to stop projecting ideals onto others, to communicate with honesty your triggers before you react, and to face the fears and barriers you may have built up to protect yourself?

One way to apply the amazing tools of yoga is to note how your body and breath feel when you are on the yoga edge and identify the same feeling when you are off the mat.

You might hold your breath, feel tense in the abdomen, tight in the chest, weak in the knees, or ungrounded in your feet. All of these physical responses are not going to feel very nice, and that is why you are invited to challenge yourself physically in class. The intention is to not only strengthen your body, but to observe your rough facets, those you don’t want to acknowledge.

These ‘edge’ feelings will come up in your workplace, perhaps when stuck in traffic, in a heated discussion, or when you are pushed out of your comfort zone as you try new things.

Summon the tools that assist your practice of presence on the mat and apply these when triggered off the mat. Just as in yoga, this empowered practice of self acceptance, patience, and consideration is supported by connecting to your breath, tuning into how you feel, and anchoring into what needs to be practised to feel stronger and focused. With this ‘edge’ awareness, you can move through your fears and let go of the mind chatter that holds you back from living what is real.

Katrina Thomson

Explore ‘Your Yoga’ with Katrina online, at her oceanside yoga studio, or on one her Yoga Adventure Retreats.

www.earthbodyocean.com www.horizonyoga.com.au