Your yoga journalling will be of most benefit if you keep it timely and spend no more than 20 minutes a day. If you are curious about what it takes to start, you can start with 1 x A5 sheet of paper and a pen.
You don’t need to be good at spelling or grammar. In your Yoga journal you will write specifically about your practice experiences. Take my practice journal as an example and you would find pictures, stickers, scribbles, random words, sentences, poetry and even letters through the year’s experiences. So don’t think you’re limited to just pen on paper.
A Yoga journal is like your very private, open green field, and you can run on it however you like with your pen. It’s your time, and space for you to write about anything you like. At the end of this article you can find a guided journal entry page, to help you track your yoga practice, if you should want to use it, like many of my private clients and students do.
Right now I want to touch on WHY I recommend you keep a practice journal for your yoga journey.
So, there are HEALTH BENEFITS to it, Yes! You get to own free space to dump the load of your brain and it’s very good for your overall health! Okay I’ll get to the scientific findings on it:
“University of Texas at Austin psychologist and researcher James Pennebaker argues that regular journalling strengthens immune cells, called T-lymphocytes. Other research also indicate that journaling decreases the symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Pennebaker believes that writing about stressful events help you come to terms with them, acting as a stress management tool, thus reducing the impact of these stressors on physical health.” – Purcell, 2018
With all due respect to research and the science of journalling though, I have personally benefited from it and now use it as a therapeutic tool with my private clients. My intention is to reduce their stress, connect them to their mind and body, and increase their capacity to understand their own potential in achieving their wellbeing goals backed by evidence.
The top 5 benefits I would like to highlight are:
1) Improved Self-Awareness – If you’re thinking that someone else has the answers about what makes you special and the best person to be around. You need to get in touch with the person inside of you and see how much s/he knows about you. Journalling offers a chance to reveal to us our real emotions, opinions, views about how we individually perceive our experiences. You might be shocked to see how wonderfully wise or different you are and how valuable your standpoint really is for the life you are wanting to live. Journalling your real thoughts will help expose your false beliefs and give you a closer look at how the most important person sees you - Yourself. The better your self-awareness the higher your chances to change what you don’t like.
2) Expose the Censors – When journalling your practice, you gain a different perspective on how you are being. As in are you engaging with your experience or does your engagement waiver from time to time? And why? You can write down your deepest fears, what triggers you to hold back or perhaps you feel sensations you’ve never felt before? Write down what you are finding inside of your body, and you will get to know your actual strengths and barriers are toward making change happen.
3) Up your Self-Care – While Yoga itself is a part of your self-care routine, the journal is a sacred tool to discovering new goals, inspirations, and identifying your personal hardships and most importantly uncovering your true needs. You are your main carer and possibly for another 5 people who need you and your energy for their life to function properly. To best serve those you love, don’t you think meeting your own needs has to come first? Truth is most of the times self-care is at the bottom of the to-do list for any person leading an average life. But if you’re looking to live life more vibrantly, you need to up your self-care. Having a journal with your very personal needs list actually is the ULTIMATE best step. It will help you make sure you get your actual needs met. As we say it here at Seva, small steps create big changes.
4) Solve Problems Effectively – For a very long while I recorded the number of classes I took per week, how I felt after each class and what I wanted to heal in my life. And one day when I looked back at my practice journal entries for the past 6 months, I found a tonne of personal data about WHY I could never maintain my engagement through a 90 minute class. The problems were clear to track, and I was able to take accountability for my own shortcomings. I saw that I had to learn to relax more and stop trying to blame it things outside of myself. You too can track your journey and have a place to gather data from to solve actual problems.
5) Gain Clarity- The act of setting some time to contemplate a subject matter is a meditative act. My practice journal has been hands down one of the best companion tools to progress my meditation practice. When you write down everything that is sitting in your mind, this itself is so therapeutic and freeing and with that extra space in your mind, you hold a powerful chance to shift the needle of your life to wherever it is you are meant to be going.
GUIDED SEVA YOGA PRACTICE JOURNAL ENTRY:
Print these questions, and write down the answers in your journal anytime you take a class or do anything Yoga related. This includes reading a book, listening to a podcast, taking a developmental workshop, masterclass, course or retreat. Once you’ve answered those, use the rest of the page to free write about anything else that you felt like writing down. Don’t dismiss thoughts or questions you had come up in your awareness – write them all down. The space is all yours, so let it FLOW out of you! Free that Mind Up!
Date & Time of class:______________
1. Rate your engagement from 1 to 5 (1 = disconnected, 3 = semi-engaged, 5 = connected): 1 2 3 4 5
2. Type of Class taken: _______________
3. Write down 3 main observations of your experience like mood, energy, motivation and limitations: _______________________________________________________________
I hope this article has touched on something of value to you. I’d love to hear about your experience, thoughts and feedback about keeping a Practice Journal. All Seva Yoga courses recommend purposeful practice journaling and it has been a wonderful tool of self-inquiry, self-awareness and evolution for many of our advancing students.
Supriya Roy (Adv. Dip Ayurveda, Yoga Therapy, Founder of Seva Yoga)
Purcell, M. (2018). The Health Benefits of Journaling. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 19, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/the-health-benefits-of-journaling/