Edward (not his real name) had been practicing with us at Mission for a while. Struggling with the isolation of early adulthood, he was determined to uncover a better way to move through the world.
Edward is tall and lithe, intelligent and perhaps a bit neurotic, as many hyper intelligent people are. He is also hyper mobile in his joints. He can do that terrifying thing with his arms and shoulders that break-dancers do sometimes where it looks like they have no bones. He is always collapsing into his postures, losing stability and lacking support.
On one particular day during a two-hour practice, I asked everyone to move to a spot on the wall to work on different layers of a possible inversion. Upon approach I can see that he has the strength to kick up and hold himself up but his chest, hips and head are going indifferent directions and his legs are sort of flailing apart.
“Press into your hands Edward and find your midline,” I say. He can’t find it. He can’t seem to find himself, his distinction, his stability.
After gaining consent, I place a balled up hand in between his legs at the inner thigh and ask him to squeeze my hand. His body organizes quickly and for a moment he is a strong and stable. It’s just a glimpse, a flash of recognition for him. He comes down smiling. You have weak boundaries Ed….. am I right, I say. He laughs then gets serious for a moment as it lands. Yes, he says. Yes, I do.
Edward is learning how to apply boundaries in his body. Boundaries come in many shapes and forms and we must learn and understand them all. A boundary is something that indicates or fixes a limit according to Merriam Webster.
The idea that freedom is a complete eradication of limitation is a misinterpretation of Yoga entirely.
Unlimited flexibility in a body creates chaos in the same way that a lack of emotional boundaries creates chaos in your personal life. The desire to go deep into poses at the expense of integrity is destructive NOT liberating.
Types of Boundaries in the body:
Tissue and joint limitation that arises from habits and repetitive activities/beliefs or injuries.
Tissue limitation that is an expression of a nervous system stuck in a stress response tone.
Joint/bone limitation that is structural and based on unchangeable forms we are born with.
Body limitations that are imposed purposefully to maintain stability and a sense of organization and ultimately freedom.
In Psychology, positive boundaries help us maintain autonomy and a healthy sense of self.
Personal accountability is hard to access when we aren’t able to say no to others and to situations in life. Resentment builds as we give away our autonomy. Blame and a lack of accountability grow and we suffer. Applying boundaries means taking responsibility for our lives.
The overlap between the physical and the psychological is the domain of the Yoga practice.
Framework of the practices of Yoga through the lens of Boundary work:
Work to shift patterned restriction and heal the nervous system creating more mobility and function. This is done through asana, and therapeutic techniques as well as making changes in your daily habits.
Practice accepting and honoring the inherent limitations of your body and circumstances that can’t be changed.
Work on pulling back from over-reaching and instead apply isometrics, use props, and prize stability and ease. In Sarayana Yoga we learn to uncover universal and personal boundaries through GRID ALIGNMENT and CORE ALIGNMENT techniques. Postures often become less dramatic but more fully inhabited and embodied.
In my opinion, Integrity is a primary goal of human development.
A good therapist and a skilled yoga teacher can help you ask the right questions but only you can find the answers to your own growth. Be courageous and get your shit together☺
“No is a complete sentence.” –Anne Lamont