Keeping a yoga journal

In my last blog I recommended keeping a yoga journal. A few of you have asked me about this so I thought I would write a few notes on this useful practice. Plus it co-incides nicely with the new Leeds Dru Yoga Teacher Training course starting, so this is definitely a practice that you will need to take up if you are on the course. 

Here are some reasons why you might want to keep a yoga journal:

  • It’s a place where you can record any insights or experiences that come up during your yoga practice (or at any other time in fact!). These insights are invaluable if you are looking to deepen your practice or working on something in particular, giving you direction or areas for exploration, research and practice.
  • Recording what you practised and how it went allows you to track your progress, particularly useful if you are feeling despondant or your resolve is flagging.
  • Ensures your practice is balanced. We all have our favourite postures…and those we try to avoid! Keeping a journal is a good way of checking that you are practising a full, well rounded range. Your ego might be telling you that you’ve done plenty of sun sequence practice during the month, on further inspection though of your journal, you discover that actually you’ve done a couple of rounds a couple of times! Keep an eye on how much meditation and pranayama you’re doing too. I don’t know anyone starting out on a yoga journey, who hasn’t thought they were doing more of these elements than they actually were.
  • A journal is a great place to ask questions, and record the answers if they come up. If you don’t get an answer, highlight your question so that you remember to ask someone who can help, or research the query a bit further yourself.
  • Allows you to track changes in your physical, emotional and energetic body and how they correspond to changes in the seasons, the phases of the moon, your food or lifestyle choices. This is a great way of getting to know your body. I find that this knowledge then informs what I’m going to practice in the future.
  • It’s the perfect place to record snippets of information, yoga tips and techniques, teachings you’ve received, so that you have all your yoga information in one place. I usually keep my journals for a couple of years, so that I can refer back if needed, and then once my practice has moved on I just transfer the bits I want to keep into the relevant file (yes, I have a very neat and efficient filing system for all my yoga knowledge 🙂 ) and throw the notebook away. Autumn is a good time for clearing out.

So, those are some reasons I keep a journal, now, how to get your journal started.

This is your journal and your practice so be as creative as you like in how you record information, as long as it makes sense to you and you can find what you need. From being a little girl, I’ve had a stationery habit, so I always treat myself to a lovely notebook, and I have a stash of coloured pens, stickers and highlighters! I find highlighter pens and shape stickers very useful, as they allow me to mark pertinant bits and then find them again when I need to, with each shape and colour refering to a different aspect of my yoga practice. Sometimes I write long hand, but mostly for my daily practice notes I use a short hand of my own devising, along with stick man drawings (A Level art was not lost on me!) of postures. For budding teachers, learning to draw yoga stick people is very handy (see photo), I use them all the time in my journal, when I’m on courses and in my lesson plans.

Below is an extract from one of my journal entries:

Sunday October 7th, morning.

Yoga notes

My yoga practice

Feeling uplifted after yesterday’s course. Slept well last night. Weather blustery again which I can feel knocking me off balance a bit. Back feeling a bit stiff.

1. A’s and BP’s . Hamstrings tight. QL and lats tight, stretches felt good.

2. EBR1

3. Tree. Balance improved on second round.

4. Cat. Nice to move my back. Did this slow and held a few times.

5. Rotated Triangle. Easier on right than left! Balance better than I anticipated. Breathing felt a bit tight at first.

6. Shoulder stand. Fish. Sitting forward bend. Lying twists. All felt good to do, if a bit stiff.

7. Relaxation.

8. 3 x 10 Kappalbhati. 10 Alternate nostril breathing.

9. 25 minutes sit. Took about 10 minutes to settle, bit of anxiety rising, not sure what that was about, quickly passed.

Here, I have noted what was good, noted a couple of areas that were not so comfortable which I’ll keep an eye on, and I know I need to do a bit more work on my low back at the moment. For the time being I’ll keep including grounding posture in my practice, and I’ll add a bit more sacral chakra work to help me release that bit of anxiety if it comes up again, so I can use my notes to track my progress and shape my future sessions.

I hope this has encouraged you to start your own yoga journal, a must for any serious student. Many years ago, one of my teachers told me that the quality of the answers I get are in direct proportion to the quality of the questions I ask. My journal helps me to ask the right questions so that I get the answers that I need… and if I don’t I know I need to work a bit more on my questions! Ix

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