There are so many good reasons to do yoga! Better balance, flexibility, strength are high on many people’s list. The fun of wall yoga or paddleboard yoga maybe. A better golf swing or ski readiness for those who love those things. And let’s not forget weight loss. Yoga, ever generous, can offer us all these things if we focus our attention there. But for some of us, these things are no longer enough.
What It’s About For Me
For me, yoga will always be about going deeper within myself. I’ve come to know myself better through yoga, even, dare I say discovered reservoirs of strength within myself. Sadly, I’ve also gotten in better touch with some less than admirable traits. Competitiveness. An often far-to-harsh self-scrutiny. Occasional laziness and self-pity. But the more I practice now, the more yoga is about preparing the body and the mind to be still in hopes that I can get in touch with something greater than both body and mind.
I do understand that not everyone seeks this type of self-exploration in their yoga. For many, it really is about increasing flexibility or balance. And there’s nothing wrong with that. The physical part of it was certainly what got me to the mat in the beginning.
But then insights and ideas began to pop up seemingly out of nowhere. It really seemed an amazing thing to me that sometimes a new and exciting creative thought would spring up out of nowhere when I was practicing. Occasionally a solution to a vexing problem would present itself. And even from time to time, a message from someone far away or long gone. These kinds of things were just some of the happy surprises yoga seemed to facilitate. I guess if we open the door, we never know just what might come waltzing in.
So, Then I Wanted More
The more I experienced these moments, the more I wanted to cultivate them. They took me within myself in a new and different way that I loved. What would happen, I wondered, if I tried to give them a little boost? And with that, I reached for my journal.
As a long-time journaler, I immediately began to explore my yoga experiences with pen in hand. Yoga dreams where my poses defied gravity were drawn up in my cartoon-like fashion and queried. The strong emotions that sometimes rise up unexpectedly in yoga were analyzed. In my journal, I talked to my body and sometimes it seemed to my soul as well.
Keeping a yoga journal has become a fun and integral part of my yoga and it has surely deepened my practice. Like my favorite props – a blanket, my blocks, a cushion – my yoga journal rests comfortably next to my mat when I practice and often travels with me as well. There’s just so much to explore.
Do you ever experience fear in your practice? Fear at a difficult pose, a new teacher, or my own personal favorite, partner yoga? Journaling about your fears and your yoga helps you to understand both better.
Competition. Admit it. Sometimes we just can’t help watching all the others around us and comparing ourselves. This theme could fill a few journals!
How do you feel when you stand in mountain, two feet solidly on the ground? Is it better or worse than how you feel as you stand in tree, balancing precariously on one foot? Explore the difference.
There’s no end to the questions that will present themselves when you add journaling to your yoga practice.
So why not give it a try? Alongside your blocks and strap, add a new kind of prop. A simple journal ready to capture your unguarded thoughts. Let pages and poses take you deeper.