Putting pen to paper after practicing yoga can yield some serious mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical benefits. I’m a firm believer in writing after practicing yoga. Flowing through asanas opens my heart, mind, and hips, but sometimes I feel there is expression inside me still waiting to pour out. So I’ll open a notebook and write whatever comes to mind. After keeping a yoga journal I’ve noticed a few benefits in my life, including the ones listed below.
Dharana, one of Patanjali’s eight limbs of yoga, translates to concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness. Journaling is a powerful way to pursue dharana in yoga practice and daily life.
The act of journaling increases self-awareness, as we reflect on the past and focus on the present. Writing clarifies jumbled thoughts and feelings, allowing us to become familiar with what we enjoy, struggle with, and want to pursue.
With a better self-understanding and relationship, we enhance our emotional well-being. Mindful self-awareness also provides the foundation for personal acceptance, growth, and change.
Journaling after a yoga practice cultivates gratitude for our practice and ourselves. As we document challenges, lessons, and progress, we come to appreciate our journey–regardless of where we are. Reflecting on our journey also encourages us to further expand and deepen our practice, continually bringing us back to the mat.
Yogi Bhajan, Guru of Kundalini Yoga, believed, “The attitude of gratitude is the highest yoga.” Through cultivating a grateful mind, we deepen our practice and value its purpose in our lives. Journaling is an exercise of appreciating our practice and transforming our mindset to recognize and treasure our journey.
With a heightened sense of self and an attitude of gratefulness, journaling also encourages us to trust ourselves to express our personal truths. Since there is no universal or “right” way to journal, we have the freedom to be creative and confident in our self-expression.
Exercising self-trust and expression through writing returns our focus to who we are and what we want. This encourages us to remember the emphasis on the heart. Osho said, “The mind lives in doubt and the heart lives in trust. When you trust, suddenly you become centered.” The centeredness we gain through self-trust reduces stress and anxiety, empowers us to make decisions, and propels us towards our goals.
Research shows that writing can help us cope with and overcome stressful events, thus reducing their mental, emotional, and physical stressors on our health. Psychologist and researcher James Pennebaker explains that journaling can strengthen immune cells and reduce symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis.
With more confidence and less stress, we become healthier and happier. This gradual transformation empowers us to share happiness with others. As B.K.S. Iyengar said, “Healthy plants and trees yield abundant flowers and fruits. Similarly, from a healthy person, smiles and happiness shine forth like the rays of the sun.”
Regularly incorporating journaling into my yoga practice has made me happier and healthier. It has instilled in me a deeper connection to my practice–both on and off the mat–by increasing my gratitude for my practice, myself, and my place in life.
Ready to begin? Grab a journal and a pen, and let your light shine.