Lesson Learned: Softening the Edges

Sometimes in life, your situation will keep repeating itself until you learn your lesson.curiano.com

the intention

To train the body and mind to surrender to the practice.

Soften the Edge

Is there a perfect medium between pushing yourself and finding relaxation in yoga?
Sudha Carolyn Lundeen’s reply:

Pushing and relaxing are opposing actions. Pushing creates tension and resistance, in both the mind and the body; relaxing releases tension. It’s true; if you don’t go far enough in your asanas, there will be little stretch and you will probably not increase the range of asanas within your reach.

But pushing too far in your yoga practice is a kind of boundary violation likely to result in pain, frustration, and injury. Somewhere in the middle of those extremes, a state of balance awaits you.

Given your personal tendency to “go for the burn”—and you are not alone in this—I’d like to offer a few ideas and questions for you to ponder. First, what is the edge that you are trying to push to? Is it an edge of flexibility? Endurance? Attention? And what do you need to surrender?

Consider the possibility that the type of surrender you might want to cultivate on your yoga mat is letting go of the need to push to achieve. If you work in your poses having clarified your intentions, what happens?

Word choice can also make a big difference in how you approach your edge. When your teachers say “push” to the edge, you might try translating their directive into “explore” or “meet” the edge to soften your will. I personally like the image of “snuggling” up to the edge; it’s cozy and friendly. It helps me relate to my edge like most relationships, which are ever-changing and take some time to get to know.

so let’s learn how to soften

  1. Lie in shavasana.  Take a few minutes to relax and settle the body, especially the abdominal area.  Then gently bring your attention to rest on your breath.
  2. Allow the breath to be loose and unrestricted.  With each exhalation, feel the weight of the body surrender to the floor, allowing every muscle to release its grip on the bones.  Feel the eyes relax and soften and all the facial muscles release.
  3. During practice, keep the definition of yoga or union on top of your mind.  This is about being integrated and connecting our breath, body and mind.  From this integration comes liberation, and that’s when yoga happens.
  4. The breath leads this connection.  So by staying linked with the breath, we may direct prana or lifeforce into areas that are tight, shallow or shut down.
  5. We can then slowly and mindfully build and asana out of the breath’s vibration, letting the breath move us.
  • When you work with this purpose, the pose comes alive, easy and fluid, not forced or stiff or out-of-breath.  Tight edges gently soften.
  • Roughness or shortness of breath is a symptom that you’re forcing instead of softening first and letting the breath do it’s job.  So instead of getting yourself into an asana, first get into the breath and then flow with it into the asana.  Let your breath be your partner.  Become one with it.
  • Try it.  Follow your in-breath and out-breath.  Connect with the breath before you begin the move your body.

Every time you say something to yourself that’s negative, it has a tiny but measurable negative effect on your body.  Think about what you think as well as what you say.

  1. Keep your posture inventive — recreate it over and over if necessary.
  2. Give your muscles permission to soften and lengthen.
  3. Accept where you are in this moment.  Acceptance is the ingredient that can make change possible.
  4. Get your lines long.  Then lengthen those lines without collapsing or making the post still or dull.
  5. Acknowledge rather that resist your limitations.  Tell yourself, “it’s OK to be just who I am.”

about the lesson learned series

Our blog series entitled Lesson Learned is designed from a teachers perspective. We see so much, feel so much and have learned so much. This is our sharing ground from the front of the room.

If you would like to read more from this series, please click here: http://yogasamatva.com/?s=lesson+learned

The light and love in me bows to the light and love in you.
Om. Shanti. Shanti. Shanti.

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