While keeping a yoga journal felt daunting at first, the act of journaling deepened my practice and my relationship with myself. I kept a yoga journal during my month-long intensive teacher training. I wrote about asanas, yogic history, and chakras. Sometimes I wrote about my delicious breakfast or scribbled across the page when my knee acted up. Even though I was busy practicing and learning about yoga for eight hours a day for six days a week I’m so glad I kept journaling because I learned what works best when starting a yoga journal and how to keep it going.
Your journal doesn’t have to be fancy. I used the same notebook that I used for the rest of my notes during the training. A lover of beautiful journals, I often find that fancy covers and gold-lined pages intimidate me from “dirtying” them with my imperfect words (especially on the hard days). Use what works for you, but focus on the process of journaling rather than the journal itself.
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Don’t fear the blank page. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from journaling is that it doesn’t have to sound like poetry. Just get that pen on the paper and don’t give yourself time to second-guess yourself. Write the first thing that pops up and take it from there. If that means a poem or two pops up here and there, that’s great. If not, that’s also great. Either way, if you’ve written something down, you’re doing great.
Allow yourself to be vulnerable. If it was a particularly challenging day, don’t be afraid to write freely and unfiltered. This journal is for you. Some of my favourite entries to look back on are from the raw days where I was exhausted and struggling. These include a lot of scribbles, capital letters, and a few profanities. But reading them takes me back to the struggles I had, and I can appreciate my honesty in that moment and my progress since then.
Chances are you’ll want to give up. Keep going. There will be days when you won’t feel like writing or you feel like you have nothing to say. The key to journaling is to make it a habit–even if for a few minutes each day or each time you practice yoga. Even if you didn’t have an “aha” moment on the mat or your practice for the day consisted of one sun salutation, jot down a quick note in your journal.
Finally, know that: There’s no right way to journal. Sorry, but there’s no cookie cutter method or template to follow when journaling (not that you’d want it anyway). Your yoga practice=your yoga journal. Embrace your personal journey and find a journaling style that works for you.
That said, if you feel lost or have what one of my teachers calls “yoga brain” after a class (aka “zenned out”), here are a few prompts to get your gears turning. Ask yourself these questions:
How do I feel? Consider physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual feelings.
What did I learn? Maybe you tried a new asana, pranayama, or vinyasa sequence. Perhaps you gained a new perspective or insight about yourself.
How did I grow or deepen my practice? This could relate to knowledge, asanas, self-understanding, goals, etc.
How can I apply what I’ve learned in yoga off the mat?
To transform dharma–thought, values, or purpose–into action, we must first know and explore our personal dharma. Journaling is a powerful tool in doing this, as it increases our awareness of our yoga practice and ourselves.
Keeping a journal during my training reminded me to focus on and appreciate my journey. It also helped me reflect on my dharma, encouraging me to embody and pursue what I believe.
Amongst all the books, materials, and knowledge I’ve accumulated through my practice, my yoga journal will always be my most valuable resource.
Do you keep a yoga journal? What has your process with it been like?