What It Takes To Even Reach My Edge

This entry was posted on Jan 15, 2013 by Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg.

What It Takes To Even Reach My Edge

Each time I stand up today, my thighs burn and my butt aches. As I make my way from chair to door, I’m amazed at how I’m shuffling, off-balanced too, because of the intense workout yesterday. Standing poses against the wall plus sandbags (suspended from my upper thighs in a strap) equals amazingly shaky strength at the moment, and shaky weakness the next day. No matter because I’m working my edge in ways I couldn’t until now.

While I do have a tendency to shy away from flags of potential injury—a good tendency, I might add—my inability to always push myself so much wasn’t just over-protection, or at least, not just the usual kind of over-protection. For a number of years, it was simply difficult for me to push myself in certain poses because of the extra weight I carried. Having lost close to 30 pounds of the 50 that I’m working to melt away, for health and vanity, I’m now finding it possible to bend, reach and push further.

Some of this relates to mechanics. Try doing Child’s Pose, a supposed resting pose, when you’re 50 pounds overweight with a lot of the extra fat exactly where you’re pressing two parts of your body together (the torso and thighs), and it can be uncomfortable, painful and embarrassing at once (especially when you notice most others in the class seem to be resting so deeply in this pose). While I learned adjustments—how to reach my hands forward and push from that angle, or how to use a blanket between my calves and thighs—it was still difficult to sink down in the way I saw some of my classmates doing.

In addition to the mechanics, there’s the weight. Downward Dog when you weigh 190 means you’re pushing against sometimes twice as much weight as the Spandexed slip of a woman beside you. A lot of poses that use our weight to build strength simply demand lifting heavier weights for those of us who don’t fit into single-digit sizes.

Yet it wasn’t just my size that kept me from working my edge as much as I might have at times: it was a lot of faith too. I simply believed that I couldn’t do certain things. Hand stands, even against a wall? I wish! Reaching my hands below my arched back to clasp while in bridge? Mon dieu! Even touching my toes was challenging, let alone putting my fingers between my big toe and next toe in Uttanasana.

I’m proud to report that in recent months, I’ve done all of this, pushing, reaching and lifting in ways that I never believed possible, each breath in such a pose a way to inhale the kind of faith that lifts the heart and soothes the soul.

So today I feel like I’ve climbed a mountain yesterday. But then again, for who I am and where my edge lies, I did.

About Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg
Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg is the Poet Laureate of Kansas, and the author of 14 books, including a forthcoming novel, The Divorce Girl; The Sky Begins At Your Feet: A Memoir on Cancer, Community & Coming Home to the Body (Ice Cube Books); and four collections of poetry. Founder of Transformative Language Arts – a master's program in social and personal transformation through the written, spoken and sung word at Goddard College (Goddard College); where she teaches, Mirriam-Goldberg also leads writing workshops widely. With singer Kelley Hunt, she co-writes songs, offers collaborative performances, and leads writing and singing Brave Voice retreats (www.BraveVoice.com); and she blogs regularly at her website (www.CarynMirriamGoldberg.wordpress.com)

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