I am a high school teacher. I teach in a mostly affluent neighborhood with pretty amazing students. I absolutely love what I do, but one thing I’ve been noticing lately is my students have a fixed mindset. Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success has looked at how the power of our beliefs, both conscious and unconscious can have a profound impact on nearly every aspect of our lives. I’ve been talking to my students about this a lot. I spent a whole week of my English class explaining to them what it is, reading articles with them, and trying to convince them that having a growth mindset can change the way they think and make them more successful.
As I was talking about this idea, changing their mindset, with my students I started to talk about my daily ashtanga practice. Ashtanga has transformed my life in many ways, but I think that one of the most important things ashtanga has done for me is to help me have more of a growth mindset. I sometimes fall into the trap of a fixed mindset. I get stuck in life and in yoga, sometimes literally. In the past year or so I have had two major yoga breakthroughs: I have figured out how to lift up out of bhujapidasana without using my feet and I have learned how to stand up from a backbend. For the longest time, I felt like I was glued to the ground. People would give me tips, but I was stuck. And then one day I wasn’t. I have definitely thought that I would not figure out how to do these things, but then I did.
It is in these moments that I realize that ashtanga has taught me to try new things. I love getting tips from my teachers, and I am so inspired by the people I practice with each day at AYP. Yoga has taught me not to give up and to keep coming back each and every day to try again. I don’t think this is a quality I had prior to finding ashtanga yoga. I would often give up and get frustrated when things were not going my way, and sometimes I feel the same way about a yoga pose, but then I remember that failure is an opportunity to grow and I can learn to do anything I want.
I never thought getting a yoga pose or transition was going to change my life or add to my own self-worth, but it does. Not because I got the pose, but because along the way, this practice has taught me that I can continue to grow. That I am not stuck, even if I feel like I am, and that with time, effort, and a good outlook, I can make changes in myself. It isn’t about the pose; it is about the journey.