Updated: Nov 23, 2020
When I teach a Yin Yoga class to the students staying at Anahata Retreat in North Goa, as most of the students are beginners to not only this style but also of Yoga practice itself, I try and have the students focus be on the Three "TATTVAS" of a Yin Yoga practice.
1. Coming into the pose at an appropriate depth.
2. Resolving and committing to remain still.
3. To hold for a long time.
The first one being the focus of today’s writings; to come into the pose at an appropriate depth.
"Playing your edge" is the "phrase" which is best associated or recognised with this principle.
When a student first arrives into their practice what they will find is at first it is only the physical edge, the most superficial edge that is played within the practice but, unknowing depending on how they place the body and how deep they come into the pose depends if they uncover the more subtler edges of the practice, emotionally, Physiologically or possibly glimpses of playing somewhat of a Spiritual edge.
But being new to the practice the student may not understand what edges are being uncovered.
As the student furthers their practice and spend longer time in their physical edge and applies the other two principles of this practice, they will find that they will begin to identify with their Emotional edge.
So, the student, in this evolution of their personal Yin Yoga practice, will firstly play their Physical edge.
From spending time compressing, stretching and twisting their bodies physically and beginning to stress and stimulate their Fascia or stressing the subtler parts of themselves stressing the certain meridian lines of the body they will soon discover once they have mastered these three principles that they will begin to tap into the exposing of their storehouse of emotions.
Each one of us has this storehouse. Throughout our lives and every daily up until and from this very moment that you read this you are constantly storing impressing’s and holding experiences within the body.
You are holding within the body, sometimes unknowingly, the many experiences that has left you with certain emotions.
Usually the Benefield emotions such as Confidence, Happiness, Openness and emotions alike these allow us to hold our bodies correctly in space. Whereas the more unbeneficial or out of balance emotions that the body holds such as anger, insecurity & pride can also be manifested into the way we are able to hold ourselves.
Sometimes we are unable to face these emotions as that would lead us onto the next and deeper aspect of playing our edge within a practice, which if you keep practicing is unavoidable, and that is playing the Psychological edge.
The emotional edge is the emotion which came from the impression or experience left on our bodies, in our facia or the very thing that is causing a blockage in one of our energy lines. However, the Psychological edge is that very experience that left that impression on us and identifying what that experience is can be a very daunting task and should be approached with care. This is for the more advance practitioner hence why in most of my sessions I strictly highlight the Physical edge to keep the students safe and pretty much staying within their comfort zone as to this point, they have had little exposure to the yoga practice and therefor actually very little exposure into themselves.
The Physical edge if not played correctly can actually trigger certain emotions in us that we have never sat and faced before hence why this practice, even though at first glance, may look "easy" or "boring" where as in fact there is a lot of work happening within the inaction and inactivity of the physical body and when we begin to calm and relax the mind.
When we are paying attention to ourselves and when we learn to identify or physical edge, we find that the individual can cope with themselves small amounts at a time.
But students who are not used to "Playing their edges" can sometimes come in too deep and very quickly expose too much too fast and burst into tears as they are unable to handle what they have uncovered through the simple act of not listening in well enough to the body.
This isn’t 100% the students fault as if they are new to the practice simply are not aware as they have never experienced bringing the body to the point of both its capabilities and limitations on that day at that time.
So, there are 4 ways in which someone can "play their edge"
Playing these edges has two sides to its coin. One side is the edge where growth, shifts, willing conscious shedding and changes happen. But the other side of the coin (where the student finds themselves going too deep too fast) where dangers can lie - Physically in injury, emotionally by possible outbreaks of out of balanced emotions or Psychologically when the student can work through or handle what they have uncovered.
Trust is required by the student of themselves and this is developed only through experiential practice this takes time and patience is required.
One of the main things in which should be cultivated within a Yin yoga practice (and can be applied to other styles also) is to surrender.
In many ways surrendering is required.
Surrendering to where your limitations are at the time of practice
Surrendering to the emotions that may arise by playing the physical edge at that panicle point of "just right"
Surrendering to challenge of a long held intense posture
Surrendering to sensations and resistances of the body
Surrendering to the restrictions of the body and points of compression within the body.
Surrendering to the pace in which your practice grows
Surrendering to the times allocated within each of the poses...
An if I were to go on, I’m sure I would be able to list a few more acts of surrender within the Yin Yoga practice.
But that very act of surrender is something that within our daily lives we don’t allow ourselves to do all so much. In fact, many of us don’t know what it takes or what it feels like to completely surrender themselves. No matter what it is that they are surrendering themselves to. For example, someone who is closed in Love will find it very difficult to surrender themselves to another. They are living in a place of fear and surrendering to love is something that they would even know where to start with themselves so they close off and shut down possibly ending the relationship because they cannot surrender to Love that has been presented to them. Another example would be an individual who is constantly working and has ran themselves into the ground to the point of illness and yet they still can’t surrender into taking time out of their busy lives to slow down and relax - even for the sake of their health.
So you can only imagine that these individuals when they arrive on their mats for their Yin yoga practice that these might be the very students who give themselves physically injury, an emotional outburst or even worse bringing to themselves something or a past time that was traumatic and reliving it again within their practice and becoming so overwhelmed that they refuse to face themselves like that again therefor removing that Yoga class from their lives as quick as the experience entered.
The Physical Edge
This is the edge where new space is created and an unconscious shedding of impressions takes place that directly results into a more spacious, lighter version of your former self.
Here is where the physical body talks to us, tried to communicate to us and we surrender and listen in into what the body is trying to tell us.
For any new practico-inert to this style it should be emphasised that this is the first connection that they make with themselves. A physical connection.
Intention and attention can be applied here. The intention of a long standing, static pause, sustainable and maintainable depth should be highlighted to the self or the student when it comes to this physical plane. The attention is directed towards the sensations, the restrictions being highlighted and the invitations to go deeper with our attention on the opening and softening of the physical body.
It doesn’t matter physically what the use looks like and, in this practice, more emphasis lays on the way each pose feels within each individual skeletal structure.
The Emotional Edge
Strong emotions = Strong reactions within the Body.
For example, A lady who developed large breasts at a young age and begins to decline their chest space to "Hide" away may find that when they come to a Yin yoga class that when they are asked to expose their chest space in a posture such as Melting heart pose that they are automatically hit with the emotions that they felt many years back when they began feeling self-conscious about themselves.
The emotional edge is where we must wait for the invitations to ourselves to go deeper and expose.
At this point the individual begins an interleaving and shifting between the physical and emotional edge.
In the physical plane we must watch out and be careful of physical injury, like this but different, on the emotional plane we have to be careful of exposing past emotional injury or trauma. The emotional edge can be a place of repression such as regret, past reactions and incorrect responses & lingering resentments.
Here we must be kind to ourselves, be gentle, forgiving and accepting. Remembering that it took years and years for the full emotional storage unit that we call ourselves to get jam packed with issues and emotional imbalances of course it only makes sense that it takes at the very least the same amount of time to undo or shed this emotional storage.
The Psychological Edge
This is where very strong emotional signals and resistances lie. When our psychological edge begins to come into play within our practice, we find a strong sense of wanting to retract and withdraw from the pose.
This is not some that they me as a teacher would like to uncover with a student within a class.
The student should get here with their own guru or through a long and patient and intelligent practice.
The Spiritual Edge
Not going into detail on this edge in this post as this is something to be experienced by the advanced practiser of Yoga. Someone who has put work into themselves and understands how close to get to themselves when it comes to the practice of self-enquiry, self-exploration or the discovery of the depth of themselves and why they are the way that they are.
So, for my students and for the most of us this doesn’t apply enough for me to go into further detail.
However, this is where everything ceases, and we let go of ourselves completely.
This is something that I believe most students can experience however almost all the time only for a fraction of a moment, just a glimpse is seen where they become the epidemy of surrender and they let themselves go completely.
Jnana Bhava, Wisdom, a larger understanding and perspective. In full understanding of self and the larger than self-aspect of life.
This is a personal journey and one to be handled with patience, care, experience, trial and error, self-study, shedding and accepting.
A beautiful and the most profound edge within the Yin Yoga practice.
When the individual learns to surrender within the body physically this is the correct way in which to practice.
This is correct as the individually is practising precisely where they are at that moment.
When the students learn to practice safely, not striving to gain, push or force they will find that they can apply "finding their edge" in their physical bodies to the edge of their emotional bodies safely and effective with the progress rate benefiting the individual.
When you practice keep in mind the act of surrendering, let it be the undertone of your approach. This is one of the keys to playing your edge in the safest most beneficial manor.
Other than this, enjoy the process, don’t rush, remain involved but always at a comfortable distance of yourself and all your levels at all your different edges depending on the superficial to subtler aspect of yourselves and understand that each day, anytime and any practice your edge can be different.
Enough said. Enjoy the process. Take your time and know your edge on all your levels.
For more information on the practice of Yin Yoga please visit https://yinyoga.com/