Keeping a yoga journal can have many benefits. It forces you to examine your practice in ways you might not otherwise examine it. It helps you reflect on your practice and to think through problems without judgment.
When to Journal
It is best to journal immediately after class, if possible. If not, make sure to do it before going to sleep. That way, your thoughts and feelings concerning that day’s class will still be fresh in your mind. If you’ve ever tried to keep a diet journal, you’ll know how hard it is to recreate your actions – not to mention feelings and emotions – a day or two after they’ve actually happened.
What To Journal In
It doesn’t really matter where you journal. But make sure your yoga journal is something you enjoy writing in. It can be an old notebook, a fancy leather-bound journal, or a computer. Just make sure it is something that you feel comfortable journaling in.
On a related note, choose a writing instrument you feel comfortable with. Pen, pencil, or keyboard, it doesn’t matter. Again, just make sure it is something you will be comfortable writing with.
Commit to Journaling
Make a commitment to write in the journal regularly. The two principles above will help with this step. Writing right after class (or at least the day of the class), and using tools that you are comfortable with, will help you stay committed.
Let It Flow
Like yoga itself, let the words flow. Don’t judge yourself or your writing. By letting the words come without an internal censor, what you write will be more spontaneous, fresh, and honest. These traits are what will allow the journal to improve your practice, both on and off the mat.
What To Write
There are four major areas you will want to touch upon in your writing. These are intention, challenges, breakthroughs, and awareness. Of course, not all of these need to be addressed in every journal entry. Maybe you didn’t have any major breakthroughs today, for instance. Also, this is your journal. If you want to expand into some topic that doesn’t fit these categories, feel free.
- Intention- What was the purpose of the class? Was it focus, balance, breathing, etc? Did the class achieve that for you?
- Challenges- Was there a particular asana that you had a difficult time with? Was there one you always have a tough time with? Did you make any adjustments? Can you in the future?
- Breakthroughs- Did you overcome a challenging asana today? Was your balance particularly good, or were you especially flexible? Celebrate these accomplishments!
- Awareness- Finally, be aware of how you were in class. Record your thoughts and feelings. Record how you felt physically, and how your alignment was. Also, reflect upon your breathing and energy level. For all of these, record not just how they were in class, but also before and after class. This can help you understand how your practice is affecting you both on and off the mat.