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How to develop grit through yoga

June 1, 2022 Posted by tanner Blog

There are generally two different kinds of people in the world: those who gravitate toward challenges and those that do not.

People that say ‘yes’ to challenging things tend to develop what’s referred to as Grit”.

According to Wikipedia, “In psychology, grit is a positive, non-cognitive trait based on an individual’s perseverance of effort combined with the passion for a particular long-term goal or end state (a powerful motivation to achieve an objective).  This perseverance of effort promotes the overcoming of obstacles or challenges that lie on the path to accomplishment and serves as a driving force in achievement realization.”

Who doesn’t want to more grit, right?

There are a lot of people who give up after taking just one class at Y2 because it was “too hard”.  Yet my Mom is in her 70’s and regularly practices at Y2. She is also arguably in the best shape of her life largely due to her teacher training at Y2 and her regular yoga practice at the studio.

Author Angela Duckworth writes in her book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance,  all about the benefits of developing grit in ones life. 

For this post I am going to focus on 2 ways to develop more grit at Y2:

  1. 1) Practice A LOT. If you have only ever been to Y2 then you only know what yoga is like through the lens of attending classes at Y2.  However, if you have been to other classes at other studios then you may have noticed some contrast.  Most of the classes at Y2 are hard and they are designed to be.  Our Single Shot, Double Shot, and Superflow classes are designed so that no matter how “good” you are at yoga you will be pushed and challenged; however, they are also designed to be attainable for beginners. So come often. Continue to push yourself knowing you will make it through the classes stronger and with more grit.
    2) You do have to try and give it your all. 
    You do NOT have to do EVERY pose!  At Y2 we encourage you to take breaks when you need to.  You don’t have to be a hero or compete with your neighbors.  The only one you are competing with in yoga is yourself. Push yourself but know when you need to come back to the breath.  Learning to breathe in difficult moments is an essential part of the practice. So, letting your breath get away from you and putting the posture first is counter productive.  Breathe and the body says ‘yes’.  Hold your breath and the body says ‘no’.

Y2 is the definition of a culture of grit.  You come to your mat, press back to child’s pose, quiet your mind, and prepare to go to work!

Maybe you have seen students in class and thought to yourself that, “I could never do that”.  For most people the question doesn’t even occur to them to ask,
“How long did it take them to be able to do that?”  I can tell you from experience that in most cases the answer is years!

The question is whether you are willing to do the work?

One month, two month… One year, two year, ten years, no use.  Whole life; whole life is practice.
– K. Patthabi Jois

What I love about yoga is that every time you achieve some pose that has been nagging at you for months, or even years, then guess what?   There are now a gazillion more that you can’t do.

Do you know what happened to me the very first time I got both of my feet behind my head?
I didn’t achieve enlightenment. I didn’t get an award. I overcame an obstacle that at one point seemed impossible.  It gave me more evidence that what I perceived as impossible was possible and the resolve to keep challenging myself.
The goal is developing what it takes to keep trying and pursuing the things that challenge us the most.  The goal is developing grit.
If you want to develop more grit then Y2 is where you should be. 

There is just one requirement on your part: SHOW UP!

My personal story

I began in February 2005 and I was immediately addicted.  If there was a workshop then I attended it.  I sought out the best teachers that I could find to learn even the tiniest nugget of information that I could use to improve my practice.  Flexibility to me came at an early age with my martial arts background, but being able to do splits doesn’t mean jack squat in yoga… In yoga you need to be flexible EVERYWHERE!

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

Below are some fun pics showing my journey over the years.  Emphasis on YEARS! Most are of me practicing Ashtanga Yoga which includes MANY poses we don’t ever practice in classes at Y2, but that I enjoy trying just because they look hard as hell and I love getting a yoga selfie doing hard sh*t!

Note that I had already been practicing for almost 4 years before the earliest one of these pictures was taken. 

Marychiasana D

Marychiasana D

October 2009 Marychiasana D

Marychiasana D

October 2009 Marychiasana D

Marychiasana D

October 2009 Marychiasana D

Marychiasana D

October 2009 Marychiasana D

Marychiasana D

December 2010 Marychiasana D

Marychiasana D Marychiasana D Marychiasana D Marychiasana D Marychiasana D

Foot Behind Head

Foot Behind Head Attempt

2009 Foot Behind Head Attempt

Foot Behind Head

2010 Foot Behind Head Attempt

Supta Kurmasana

Supta Kurmasana with assistance from Michael Gannon

Foot Behind Head

2012 Foot Behind Head

Foot Behind Head

2015 Foot Behind Head

Foot Behind Head

2015 Foot Behind Head

Foot Behind Head Attempt Foot Behind Head Supta Kurmasana Foot Behind Head Foot Behind Head Foot Behind Head

Yoga Journey

Uplithi

2009 Uplitihi

Kurmasana

2010 Kurmasana

Backbending

2010 Backbending with Gannon

Pincha Mayurasana

2008 Pincha Mayurasana

Bhujapidasana

2010 Bhujapidasana

Backbending

2010 Backbending with Gannon

Alcapulco Retreat

2009. Look at how young Johnna and I were!

Pincha Mayurasana

2008 Pincha Mayurasana

Uplithi Kurmasana Backbending Pincha Mayurasana Bhujapidasana Backbending Alcapulco Retreat Pincha Mayurasana

It is wise to choose those that have greater knowledge than you to learn from.
Below are some of the teachers that I would like to acknowledge that challenged me along the way:

Some of the teachers that I have learned from:

Brian Kest

Brian Kest - Founder of Power Yoga

Michael Gannon

Michael Gannon - Ashtangi

Kino McGregor

Kino McGregor - Ashtangi

Johnna Smith

Johnna Smith - Ashtangi

Shanna Smalls

Shanna Smalls - Ashtangi

V

Ido Portal - Movement Specialist and Handstand Coach

Brian Kest Michael Gannon Kino McGregor Johnna Smith Shanna Smalls V

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