Who you are on your mat is who you are off your mat.
I’ve heard this phrase a number of times from yoga teachers, and used it myself when leading a class. For me, it’s one of the more insightful and elemental components of yoga. The idea is to call your attention to the mental aspect of your practice; the role your mind plays in everything you do.
In the more physically challenging yoga practices like ashtanga or power vinyasa, there always comes a time when its easy to ‘tap out’. When the instructor asks you to do 5 more leapfrogs, or 3 more wheels, or take yet another 4 breaths in full warrior III. You feel your body tiring and it’s so very tempting to just stop and take a break. And after all, didn’t that same teacher also tell you to “do what works for you”?
What the statement is really getting at is: what kind of person do you want to be? Do you want to be someone who can stick it out when the going gets tough? Do you want to have a bit more in you than you thought you did? That statement is also asking: Are you aware that you can grow and change?
These ideas are the stuff of Angela Duckworth’s research. And they are the reason that we use the word “grit” to describe who we are at Tadasana.Yoga. Duckworth took an extensive look at groups of successful people to see whether talent or effort was the key reason for their success. To jump straight to the punchline, the answer is effort. Duckworth encapsulates this idea of “talent counts once, effort counts twice” in her book #Grit. She summarizes the idea of grit as “passion plus perseverance”.
Check out the videos I’ve shared here to see Grit summarized, as well as Duckworth’s #tedtalk presentation on her research.
At Tadasana, what we mean by ‘grit’ is that you can find your “passion plus perseverance” on your mat. If you’re coming to yoga regularly, you’ve got the passion for it. When you’re challenged to go further than you usually go, you apply perseverance. And when you practice that approach regularly on your mat, you will learn to take it off your mat, and out into your life. And then it really will be true that who you are on your mat, is who you are off your mat.