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Finding your edge.

December 13, 2011

I was at a yoga class the other day and the teacher mentioned finding your edge.  This stuck with me and I reflected on the phrase for the rest of the class.  The teacher was referring to exploring our ability to perform the asanas (yoga postures), but I was thinking of life in general.  Living with chronic health problems, we encounter these barriers that weren’t there before, or at least did not seem so prominent.  I feel like I find my edge in everyday, mundane activities that I didn’t even think about in the past.

My world has contracted to some extent to fit new boundaries of fatigue and chest pain.  My excursions are doctor’s appointments and the grocery or drug store more often than to visit with friends or get a cup of coffee.  Every day, I try to push these boundaries at least a little.  I’m afraid of losing more physical function.  It is ever so much easier to lose ground to debility than to gain it back.  I walk every day, hoping to improve my cardiac function or at least preserve what I have.  I go to yoga classes for the meditative quality and to gain strength and flexibility.

A lot of the time, my edge is more in my head than in my physical body.  I have been assured by my cardiologist that I won’t die or damage my heart further experiencing my “usual” chest pain.  Still, it is a challenge to really believe that way down deep when I feel that little creeping pain behind my sternum while walking or while thinking about something stressful.  Also, knowing that making myself too tired will bring on several hours of aching and heaviness makes it difficult to push too much.  I become more fearful too when I’ve had pain at several yoga classes in a row.  I start to fear that I will always have pain at yoga.

It’s a big frustration, having angina with seemingly minor exertion.  I go to some of the easiest, most laid back yoga classes available at the studio, yet still have chest pain and noticeable fatigue.  I know intellectually that the only way to gain strength is to push my limits, however gently.  I try to be mindful of my limitations and respect my limits while trying to stretch just a bit.  I want to keep exploring that edge, while letting go of attachment to achieving particular goals.  I just don’t have enough data for now to know what is realistic and do not want to limit myself unnecessarily.  It’s something everyone does every day, but when the boundaries come so close to every day activities we all take for granted  they become so much more obvious.

One Comment leave one →
  1. December 13, 2011 1:34 pm

    I think of edge as a region. I tell students that the edge begins at that place where we first notice resistance. Going deeper into that region brings firmer resistance until we arrive at a place where we feel that any further and we risk injury. Some days we feel like working with a softer edge; some days with a harder edge. But we should always pay close attention and keep ourselves safe. Edge of course is not just physical. I wonder if there is a yoga therapist in your area? Yoga therapy is a specialty within yoga and requires extensive training. You might google “yoga therapy” and see what you come up with. I think your yoga practice can be made to work for you. And you might benefit from some one-to-one with an experienced teacher. Please take care of yourself.

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