An old adage says that if you eat fruits and vegetables for 80 years, you won’t die young. I’m pretty sure the same thing could be applied to fostering a life-long yoga practice—even if the only thing you do consistently is keep a journal about it.
Or at least, that’s what Bruce Black recommends in Writing Yoga, a how-to guide and memoir he penned to teach how journaling can deepen your awareness of yoga.
Your journal, like your mat, is your refuge, a place where you can let your guard down, discover who you really are, and celebrate that discovery. - Bruce Black
How can daily journaling do that? Through the yogic concept of svadhyaya or self-study. As Black puts it, “Your journal, like your mat, is your refuge, a place where you can let your guard down, discover who you really are, and celebrate that discovery. It helps you answer the question: Who am I?”
Or as Parayoga teacher and lifelong personal-journal aficionado Mia Park notes, it can simply help you understand how your meditation or asana habits have changed.
Start simple. Make a habit of keeping a pencil or pen and paper nearby so you can jot down notes or observations as soon as you’ve finished practicing.
Write down anything. “It could be, ‘my left hip really hurts,’” says Park, or “‘I didn’t realize I wasn’t supposed to touch my mala beads with my index finger.’” She doesn’t limit herself in scope here: “I lost track of space and time and thought I was a cow on the moon” isn’t off limits either.
Don’t over-think things. So you’re having a hard time getting into it. It’s hard enough, with your crazy schedule, to practice every single day, and now you’re supposed to write about it? Do it anyway. Think of journaling as a form of tapas or discipline. Park suggests that you write about everyday experiences, or extraordinary ones, if they surface, or anything in between; you don’t need to have earth-shattering insights.
Be open to sharing. Still not convinced? Keep in mind that a daily journal can also open your heart. To yourself, and others.
Give it a try. Write down one single thing as vividly as you can. According to Black, it doesn’t get any more basic than this: “A journal is another prop—like a block, a belt, a blanket—for you to use in your yoga practice.”