“Limitations are inspiring: they lead to thinking, so I don’t mind them.” – Mike Nichols
My yoga practice inspires me to explore and think about limits in new ways.
Each pose, and the limits of that pose, help me better understand and acknowledge what I can and can’t do.
But it’s not just the poses that help me explore limits.
Limits are involved from the very moment that I step on my mat.
The mat, this rectangular piece of rubber, is the limit within which all my yoga happens at first.
Notice how the mat is relatively small compared to the size of the room. It’s a small slice of space, isn’t it?
I’ll stay on the mat for the length of my class or home practice, and for that time I’ll define the limits of my physical space within the dimensions of my mat.
But rather than confine me or shrink my world, the mat offers me the freedom to explore my body in different poses and from different perspectives.
It gives me a point from which I can view my self and those around me.
It lets me go deep into my self because of the safety and security it provides by helping me establish the limits of my own space.
Safety and security.
Two benefits of limits.
I think it offers serenity, too, not by helping me see what I can control (on the mat) or what I can’t control (what happens off my mat or on the other mats in class), but by giving me the ability to recognize the difference.
It gives me the chance to explore the limits of my body—the length of my arms and legs, the strength of my muscles, the ability to bend forward or backward or kneel or twist, the depth of an inhalation or exhalation—in a way that gives me a new knowledge and understanding of my body.
With this new knowledge, this self-knowledge, comes a certain sense of peace, as well as joy.
It’s the joy that comes from stepping on my mat and discovering a new perspective, and a new range of possibilities, in each pose.
Practice journal: How does stepping into the limited space of your mat inspire you to think differently about the limits of your body and your self? Write: 10 min.
A special note of thanks to the yoga teachers-in-training at Yoga Village who inspired these thoughts on limits.