Living on the Edge: A Yogi Surrender - Kylee Stein

I often ask my students to go to their "edge" in a pose, just as my teacher has asked me to do so many times before. I know the place well. It’s that space in your mind and body where all the sensations are trapped in your consciousness. Time ceases to exist or matter. There's no room and no need to think of anything else because the present moment is calling you to it. And in that moment, all there is, all there can be, is transformation.

What we don’t realize as we sweat buckets holding hanumanasana, is that this is the work of our being. We exist to work toward self-perfection, so that we can know eternal peace and unite with the forces of our creation.

What does this have to do with the splits you ask? It is all about developing familiarity with the unknown, going that one inch past the boundaries your ego has set for you. Each time you cross the threshold of the unknown, you’re opening yourself up to the possibility of being changed. So, why is it that we're often afraid to let ourselves go there? Why do we resist journeying deeper, both in asanas and in life?

We’ve all experienced resistance, and I’m certainly not above it. I’ve been known to “hang out” in a pose or two. You know the feeling. It’s been a long day, so you take it easy and bask in the cozy comfort of your boundaries. Perhaps you, like me, feel decent about your decision. More importantly, we feel in control.

But imagine my teacher cues me to find the edge as I sit holding my pelvis a solid 6 inches off the ground in my splits. Now, let’s assume on this day I'm being a good student, and I decide to explore the unknown and go deeper. I go so deep that my mind is trapped in the sensations I’m experiencing. This is the place where I all I can do is breathe, unsure of how long I’ll be here or how it will feel when it's over. I simply let go. I surrender completely to the present moment. The ultimate reward is a glimpse of how it feels to have no expectations, no questions nor answers, no attachments.

When we push ourselves to go deeper in poses, it's often to feed an attachment we have to mastering that pose physically. Attachment creates ego. And if in yoga the ultimate goal is to overcome our ego, why is it important to go deeper in poses? Because it isn’t mastery we seek, it’s surrender. We can only find surrender when we humble ourselves to uncharted territory. It is in this space that we allow ourselves to breathe life force into the present moment. We trust that we are ultimately protected. We trust that we are good enough to just be. And that, dear yogis, is my ultimate definition of living on the edge.

It's in this process that we can strengthen our relationship to the place where transformation happens. If you can harness the strength to surrender in your poses, you can begin to see the very same phenomenon happening off the mat.