I’ve been doing yoga for years, and one of the best decisions I made in the early days of my practice was to start keeping a yoga journal.
No, I don’t mean ordering and hoarding the magazine. I mean keeping a physical journal of my practice.
This came in handy when I started my yoga teacher training as keeping a log of your daily practice is required of most yoga teacher trainings.
But, when I first started keeping a yoga journal I didn’t really have any specific goals in mind. I wasn’t trying to prove to anybody that I have a solid practice. I just wanted to track my own personal yoga practice. It wasn’t long before I saw major benefits.
Why You Should Keep a Yoga Journal
Keeping a journal is very similar to keeping a diary.
And keeping a diary is a practice that dates back centuries. Traditionally, a diary is a handwritten account of events in one’s life. It may include feelings, observations, and musings about one’s life, or part of one’s life.
Even the earliest version of Meditations by Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius looks a lot like a diary. Dating back to the second half of the 2nd Century AD, Meditations has many characteristics of a diary.
A journal is very similar to a diary, but it diverges insofar as a diary is updated daily, and a journal is updated less frequently.
But it doesn’t have to be daily to be beneficial. Keeping a journal has mental health benefits.
James Pennebaker, a psychologist at University of Texas at Austin, posits that regular journaling strengthens immune cells, called T-lymphocytes.
“When people are given the opportunity to write about emotional upheavals, they often experienced improved health,” said Pennebaker. “They go to the doctor less. They have changes in immune function.”
Other benefits of journaling include:
It gets your creative juices flowing and can give you an outlet you might not otherwise have.
You become more in tune with your emotions.
You feel less stressed because when you write down what you’re stressed about, you can take ownership of it.
Writing down details about my practice held me accountable, but also forced me to examine my practice in a way I might not have otherwise. I have a stronger awareness of my yoga and how it has progressed over the years.
Journaling allows me to connect deeper with my practice.
Journaling is a challenging habit to get into, however. Finding the time to journal can be difficult, especially if you don’t immediately see a tangible benefit.
But keeping a yoga journal is fairly easy, and in fact, it’s something that you can start doing the next time you do yoga.
Let’s talk about how to get started keeping a yoga journal.
How to keep a yoga journal
Keeping a yoga journal is simple, but it’s not easy. It takes practice and dedication to build the habit. The steps are super simple.
1. Find a blank book you enjoy writing in.
For me, this was the hardest part. I’m particular about those sorts of things. I happened to have a blank book lying around that I bought…oh, 7 years ago, so I used that instead of going out and buying a new one.
2. Find a pen you enjoy writing with.
I hate writing with regular ballpoint pens. I like gel pens or fountain pens. Right now I am in love with the Pilot V5 pens. They write smoothly, and I love the different ink colours.
3. Make a commitment to log your practice.
I get out my journal and write down every time I yoga. I do 3 warriors while waiting for the tea kettle, I write it down. If you don’t fully commit to the yoga journaling process, you’ll stop journaling.
Yeah, I told you the steps were simple!
But it’s the actual doing of it that’s a challenge. That’s where most yogis get stuck. And that’s partly because they don’t know what to write down. Just spewing a bunch of words onto the page is fine, but it’s not going to help you in the long run as much as answering the same questions (or tracking the same elements) each time.
What to journal about
Each of my journal entries includes the following information.
- Date and time of practice
- Practice details:
- Did I go to a class?
- Did I do a home practice?
- Did I supplement my home practice with a yoga video?
- What style of class did I practice?
- How long did I practice?
- Who was the teacher?
- How did I feel before practice?
- What asanas did I have difficulty with?
- What asanas did I finally conquer?
- What do I want to work on next time?
- How do I feel after practice?
I like to get creative with my journaling. My pages are covered with yoga-inspired doodles that help tell the story of my practice more than just words.
If you want to get started yoga journaling, I encourage it! To help you out, I put together a free download that’s inside our resources library that will get you started journaling.
You can print as many of these as you want. Use a 3-hole punch and stick ’em in a binder to keep organised.
So what do you think? Are you going to start a yoga journal? Why or why not? Let me know in the comments.