At the Edge of Your Comfort Zone

In daily life, we tend to remain within a familiar but limited comfort zone by staying away from both our physical and mental edges.
Your skill in yoga has little to do with your degree of flexibility or where your edges happen to be. Rather, it is a function of how sensitively you play your edges, no matter where they are.
— Erich Schiffmann


Are You Sensitive to Your Edges?

Do you know what is meant by "your edges?"  Sometimes physical. Often times mental. Can be emotional as well. Could be that you run right through or away from some of them. This is a place to play and discover rather than push or judge. Something about writing this blog post has been an edge for me. I've stayed with it longer than other posts I've written (started it about a month ago). It's not exactly a new edge for me; however, it is very significant and core to me and my journey (hence the "Comfort Zone" name). Edges are a place of awareness and can be a type of stepping stone to personal growth.


Every time I teach a Yoga 101 series (5-week yoga class), I have a specific class that I refer to as "edge day." I start by asking the class what they think I mean by an edge and then give a few examples. One example I use is the way we interlace our fingers together. There's one way that we tend to do this and to do it the opposite can cause an interesting sensation. Try it and see.  Some have described it as feeling "weird" and even "wrong."  This is a more subtle physical edge than many others (like how we cross our arms or legs and how far our hamstrings agree to go), yet it points to how our edges show up everywhere and can sometimes be labelled and considered in a negative light. 

The definition of an edge that I find supportive is: a place that holds enough sensation to keep you present and not too much to make it the only thing you can think about. It's also the place before pain. An edge can be the situation, feeling or yoga posture we want to run away from or distract from. Other times it's the place we push through thinking we must go as far as possible (whether our hamstrings agree or not). More supportive would be to play those edges sensitively and find out what they hold for you. Your breath is a big key to what's going on for you while you explore.

Playing the Edges

 Just as walking the edge of a cliff or a tightrope is somewhere to really pay attention, so is playing your edges. In yoga, it's often said that the real practice of a posture begins when you want to come out of it. Of course, there's a physical difference to be learned about what could be causing damage and what is causing a sensation of strengthening or stretching a muscle. Side note: sensations in the belly of a muscle are much safer than sensations in joints. When you play the edge or stay where the challenge is, you may find that your body opens to you in a way that you don't get from pushing or forcing yourself to go further or to back out before the benefit is received. 

You may find the same in life. There is something to be gained (confidence, personal growth, etc.) from playing your edges sensitively and stepping out of your comfort zone once in a while.  As the quote suggests on the Home page...

Out past the barrier of your comfort zone lies everything your Heart desires - get out there!
— Jackson Kiddard

So play, explore, find your edges. Discover what they have to teach you and what you can gain from paying attention. Keep in mind the difference in the word play compared to the word work. This is for your enjoyment. Also, notice how the label you place on something changes your experience of it. 

Let me know how it goes, share your wisdom in the comment section below or send me an email anytime for support with your practice. I'd love to hear about how you play your edges or what you learn there.

Love for your edges,