How to find your 'edge' in the pose
How to find your ‘edge’
When we move through Asana’s or poses, it is an opportunity to develop awareness of our physical body and co-ordination within it. In each pose we come right to the point where there is a balance of effort and relaxation – this is our edge. I like to refer to this place as a ‘biting point’ similar to when you use the clutch and accelerator on a car, this is the point that our body takes hold of the pose. If we pull back we won’t get anything out of it, if we go too far then may accelerate into a point of pain or injury. It is important to move slowly in and out of poses so that we have time to assess how the body is feeling. If you try to twist yourself into knots all to quickly, you leave yourself open to injury before the mind has had time to interpret pain.
To make it clear, when assessing physical sensation, use the following guidelines as a reference:
- hot, stabbing or electrical type sensations should NOT be explored
- mild or dull achy type sensations and perhaps a feeling of release can be explored
- no sensation – perhaps you need to make some minor adjustments with your body to find a point of stress
When following the instruction from your teacher, remember that the cues are general cues and that we each are blessed with a completely different muscular & skeletal structure so what works for one person, doesn’t necessarily work for another. Where one person feels tension or release, the other won’t. That is to say that if you don’t feel anything when you have arrived in the instructed shape, then it is up to you to make small adjustments to find where the pose starts to activate for you. You can ask your teacher for guidance, but remember they are not in your body and don’t know what you are feeling, so close your eyes and try to feel what creates that ‘edge’ point for you.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- What part of my body is in contact with the ground? How can I activate and strengthen my foundation? spread fingers or toes, lift up through arches or palms, root sit bones etc
- What muscle(s) can I activate to find strength and stability in the pose? Subtle core activation
- Where in my body is starting to open or release? Am I holding unnecessary tension anywhere?We activate the opposing muscles to those we want to release. For example, contract the quads to lengthen the hamstrings.
- What kind of sensations can I feel and where?
- Am I breathing?? Use the breath as your guide to remain focused and concentrated on the work and also to keep the energy moving and releasing. If its trailed off into nothing, re-activate, if its laboured, take a break.
Always listen to your body, by this I mean follow the messages from within (or the guidelines above!). Abide by Ahimsa(non-violence) by becoming sensitive and compassionate to your body’s needs. When looking around the class, it’s tempting to copy someone else or get tied up in stories about how everyone else is more flexible, stronger, better at yoga than you, but remember, yoga is not about being flexible, it’s about getting in tune with your mind and body. The physical flexibility comes as a result of that inner work. When we untie the knots of samskaras (karmic knots) within the energy networks of our pranic (energetic) body, the physical, mental and emotional tension will slowly start to release. For most of us this is a lifelong journey of self discovery, not an Olympic gymnastics show!! So don’t get hung up on what you can and can’t do, don’t compare yourselves to others, just practice and enjoy the benefits from each session on every level of your being and know that every time you come to your mat, the experience will be entirely different from the last.