Finding my edge

I took a two-hour workshop at Thrive Yoga today with Susan Bowen: “Are You Edgy?” Good question in more than one way. The premise was that any practitioner needs to find how deeply she can move physically, mentally spiritually into the flow. The “Edge” has become an almost mystical state of hatha yoga in which awareness, breath and body seems to meld into nirvana.

As I mentioned a few days ago, I tend to be utilitarian about my practice. I want to become stronger and more flexible physically, and move with grace and ease through my vinyasa. I wield my practice as a “cure” for my depression. I point towards self-realization of my full potential as a creative force. So my practice is always “out there,” probing the boundaries.

So I need to find the balance between the soaring for achievement and the grounding of self-acceptance and peace. Where is the line on my mat between those two dimensions.

We were about a dozen students. These were not necessarily the most accomplished yogis at the studio. Most were mature adults who were coming to terms with the physical demands of yoga, the limits of their bodies and the aspiration to maximize the benefits of the practice. Susan led an initial discussion to find out how we perceive the “edge” and how we thought we could get there. Then we did 20 minutes of intense pranayama, which was very useful in taking me out of the normal frame of reference for practice. We then did a vinyasa practice that emphasized holding the asanas for a long, long time — downward facing dog held until my biceps, tricepts and hamstrings quiver. Sun salutations as a slow progression of endurance. We then did some long restorative poses. Finally, we ended with meditation.

Did I find my edge? I noticed that I have a tendency to overrun my edge. My breathing rhythm becomes accelerated and I just try to push through the need for more air in my lungs. I don’t pull back or drop into child’s pose to regain my breath. I frequently ascribed this breathing pace to my condition as a guy in his late 50s who is carrying 10-20 pounds more than his ideal and has not been doing enough cardio and aerobic exercising. But now I think it’s more complicated than the mere physically. I am not paying attention to my edge.

I also noticed that my practice is uneven — my chatarunga is strong, but ask me to balance on one leg and I fall over. Because there is so much divergence in my practice, it is easy to lose track. Not only to I tend to get into a hyper mode, but when I go through a less than optimal segment of my practice, I start to think I have to catch up.