Of all the great choices you can make for your well-being, practicing yoga is at the top of the list. Whether you’re practicing a gentle form, like vinyasa flow, or taking more challenging bikram yoga classes, you’re reaping its numerous benefits. Yoga tones your muscles, improves your endurance, and reduces your risk of serious medical issues like diabetes and hypertension. It can also help you to control your stress level and combat symptoms of anxiety and depression. Making yoga part of your healthy lifestyle is good for your body and mind. The more you make time for it, the more you’ll enjoy all it has to offer. And there’s a great way to record your progress: writing in a yoga journal. Here, I’ll explain more about journaling and give you some tips for getting started. As beneficial as your yoga practice is now, journaling will make it even more so.
The Benefits of Journaling
If you’ve never made journal writing part of your daily or weekly routine, there’s no time like the present to get going. Much like yoga, any kind of journaling can help you work through your stress and cope with anxiety and depression. It’s also a good way to record your goals and track the progress you’ve made (both in yoga and elsewhere in life). So, if you’ve been curious about how you can improve your mental health, you should know that journal writing is among the best low-cost stress reducers available. Even if you have only a few minutes each day (or every other day) to write, it will be time well spent.
There is no right or wrong way to write in a journal, and it’s important that you don’t judge yourself. It’s okay (and good!) to let your guard down and be vulnerable. If you’re experiencing a bit of writer’s block and need a little kick-start, you may benefit from some inspiration. Will you need to buy a journal in order to get started? If so, you might like using an attractive one with helpful built-in prompts to get your thoughts flowing. On the other hand, if you prefer to write without prompts, you can use a plain notebook (and decorate the covers to your liking).
Additionally, you can keep your journal somewhere on your computer if you find typing easier than writing by hand. It’s entirely your call! In this case, whatever you feel works best is what’s best for you. Remember, this should decrease your stress level, not exacerbate it.
How to Use a Yoga Journal
If you like, you can combine your general journaling for mental health with more specific yoga journaling. You’ll likely find that they go hand in hand—and that they’re both incredibly useful.
Like any other journal, your yoga journal will be as unique as you are. Again, there are no rules or limits here—you can do this in the way that best serves you. If you already know exactly what you’d like to include, great!
If you need a little help getting started, check out these tips for what you might include in your writing:
- What emotions were you experiencing before you began your practice today? What kind of day were you having?
- What inspired you to practice today?
- Did you have any specific goals (poses, your mental focus, etc.) for this practice? What were they? Were you able to accomplish them? If not, what are you planning to do differently next time?
- What poses did you choose today? Which ones felt best, and can you describe why?
- Which poses were the most difficult? What kept you going through them?
- What emotions did you experience as you concluded your practice? Was your mood substantially different from when you started?
- When do you plan to practice again, and what are your hopes for the next session?
If these yoga journal prompts don’t speak to you, check out some others. What works perfectly for one writer might not be the least bit useful to the next. You can experiment with different journaling styles until you find one that resonates, and you may even explore your artistic side by sketching your poses. This is just for you, so it’s all up to you.
What is a Gratitude Journal?
If all of this is helpful for you, you might add elements of gratitude journaling into your writing, as well. A gratitude journal is just what it sounds like: a place to record the things you’re thankful for each day, both big and small. Taking the time to appreciate the wonderful stuff in your life can help you develop a more positive attitude. If you’re wondering how to start a gratitude journal, take a look at some of these helpful suggestions.
What if you don’t want to maintain two or three separate diaries? No problem—you can very easily include elements of gratitude journaling in your yoga journal. Try some of these prompts the next time you sit down to write:
- What is your favorite thing about your regular yoga practice? What makes you look forward to hitting the mat?
- What are your favorite yoga poses? What makes you love them so much?
- Have you met anyone special through yoga? What kind of impact has this person had on your life?
- What positive changes, physical and/or mental, have you noticed in yourself since you made yoga a part of your routine?
- What’s better about your life now that you practice yoga? If a friend asked you whether you thought they should start taking yoga classes, what would you say? What kinds of things would you recommend they try, based on your own experience?
Practicing yoga and writing in a gratitude journal can work together to help you feel happier and more optimistic about the future. So find a quiet place, put on some relaxing music or your sound machine, and start journaling. Who knows where it will lead you?