13 Top Tips for Getting Started with Yoga Journaling

A persistent issue that yoga beginners have is staying consistent with and making progress in their practice. Keeping a yoga journal is a great way to help overcome that struggle. This article will look at how to start a yoga journaling practice.

We will cover 13 tips separated into three main topics including understanding the benefits of yoga journaling, getting started, and staying consistent with your yoga journal.

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Key Takeaways

  • Deepen Your Yoga Practice: Yoga journaling cultivates a deeper connection with your practice, helping you engage with physical postures, breathwork, and meditation on a more profound level.
  • Self-Study (Svadhyaya): Through journaling, you can confront and address less desirable aspects of your yoga journey, fostering personal growth and self-awareness.
  • Cultivate Mindfulness: Transform your journaling into a mindfulness practice by adding structure and purpose to your entries.
  • Gain Clarity: Yoga journaling reveals “Aha!” moments and patterns, providing valuable insights into your practice, alignment, and emotional well-being.
  • Define Your Sankalpa: Discover your unique intentions or Sankalpa through consistent journaling, guiding your yoga journey towards personal growth and self-improvement.

Understanding the benefits of yoga journaling

 Almost every yoga enthusiast will embark on keeping a yoga journal, but few will stay the course. The best way to stay on the yoga journal wagon is to have a clear understanding of the benefits of keeping a yoga journal. This section will look at 5 tips that are tied to these benefits.

Tip 1: Deepening Your Practice

The first tip is understanding that keeping a yoga journal is a surefire way to cultivate a deeper relationship with each yoga session. The time spent on your yoga mat is precious. Therefore we want to develop a connection to the physical postures, the breathwork, and the meditation as guided by your yoga teacher.

For many of us, our entry point and main focus in yoga is through asana, the physical postures. The same is true for me. Therefore, a big part of my own yoga journal is on a particular pose from class that stuck in my mind. Here are two excerpts from my online journal that I keep in a Google Sheet.

” Tree pose: felt far more grounded this time, like my body finally found its center of balance. I wonder if it’s at certain times of the month that my balance goes off a bit”. 

“Downward-facing Dog: shoulders are feeling stronger. Keep an eye on your ribs flaring out”.

Tip 2: Developing Svadhyaya (Self-study) 

Svadhyaya is a concept in yoga that refers to self-study. Seasoned practitioners will be the first to tell you that yoga often doesn’t always feel good. It is a path of personal growth, of understanding your true self, and that often can mean looking at the parts of you that are less desirable.

For example, in my case, my yoga journaling showed me that I have a tendency to cut corners and take shortcuts. This is apparent in my asana practice when I take the easier option of a pose modification even though I would benefit from a more challenging variation.  I also will skip vinyasas in my Ashtanga practice,

I have always erred on the side of laziness, and this shows up on the mat, and therefore in my journal too.

If I don’t keep a journal, I can ignore that part of me once practice is finished, But, if I make the effort to write about it, I am putting myself on the path to greater self-awareness, and therefore can do something about it.

Make a promise to yourself that part of your journaling practice will be about being honest about what comes up on the mat in terms of habits and nuances that you’d rather not look at.

Tip 3: Cultivating Mindfulness 

Your journal will be messy at first and that’s OK. Mine was a rambling of free writing and scribbles for a while. Over time, the concept of mindful journaling worked its way into my periphery and I began to take it more seriously.

Giving your journal some structure and purpose (which we will talk about further down) helps to turn it into an effective mindfulness practice.

Tip 4: Gaining clarity

Another benefit of keeping a yoga journal is that you will occasionally be blessed with those “Aha!” moments. Over time you will notice patterns emerge that provide insight into who you are. For example, I noticed that I was avoiding meditation practice because I struggled with staying in the present moment while sitting still. I also defined which teachers online I really resonated with, and focused more on their classes.

The journal is also a great place to note down any minor alignment adjustments that totally alter how a pose feels. For example, making sure that my bum wasn’t sticking out behind me in Triangle pose really helped to feel the stretch along the side body.

Writing these moments down helps you to remember them for the next time. 

Tip 5: Defining Your Sankalpa

Sankalpa is a concept in yoga that is similar to setting an intention. For example, “I listen carefully to my body” or “I focus fully on my breath”. Sometimes, these are referred to as affirmations and are always in the present tense so as to embody the meaning. “I am calm” is a popular intention or Sankalpa for someone who intends to reduce the feeling of stress.

A Sankalpa goes a little further than an intention or an affirmation. For example, in Tip 2 I mentioned that I am inherently lazy. This is something that shows up repeatedly. I use this insight to develop my Sankalpa, essentially an intention of what I desire to be.

I don’t want to be lazy or sloppy on or off the yoga mat. Nor do I want to talk myself out of practice or cut short because I’d rather be watching some reality TV. I want to be someone who practices authentic yoga, and who endeavors to learn continuously about all aspects of this beautiful way of life. Therefore, my Sankalpa, which I have used for years, is “I practice with integrity”.

Your Sankalpa will emerge with regular journaling of your yoga practice. It will be unique to you and will be a constant for months or years to come. 

Getting Started with Yoga Journaling

Beginning your yoga journal adventure can be surprisingly overwhelming at first. In fact, even the idea of journaling can be a little off-putting, especially if you have no idea where to start and, like me, equate journaling with being a little self-indulgent.

This section will look at how to reduce the overwhelm by starting slowly at first, and by creating a structure to follow from the outset.

Tip 6: Developing the habit

Usually, when starting something new, we put everything we have into incorporating it into our daily lives only to find we have run out of steam a week in.

Though the dream is for our asana, breathwork, and meditation practice to become a daily habit, that is not always feasible.

Life gets busy. We have kids, pets, jobs, family, and a number of other people and things we love that need our attention. So, when getting started with yoga journaling, try not to focus on creating a daily journal, even if you get on the mat every day.

Start slow and build up sustainably. This might mean journaling once a week and spending six months building up to three or four times a week.  

Tip 7: Using Questions as Prompts

It is not always easy or pleasant to delve into your inner world after yoga practice. Free writing works for some, but for others, it can feel pretty uncomfortable or confronting. Because yoga is a healing practice, journaling about it can bring up issues of physical health and mental health that might be difficult to address even when it’s between you and the paper (or keyboard). In that sense, it can feel all too much right from the get-go.

When I was just getting started, I found it really helpful to start with some mindfulness journal prompts, and a selection of questions that focused on the flow of yoga classes, the cues from the teachers, and the poses. Below is a screenshot of a typical journal structure I now use.

Keep it simple and light at first. Let yourself adjust to the process and stay in the shallow end for a bit.

Tip 8: Keeping it Unique 

At the end of the day, it is your own yoga practice. There is no right or wrong way to journal as long as you feel you’re getting the value you want from it. You also don’t have to stick to the same format day in and day out.

One week you could focus more on the theme of a gratitude journal, picking out parts of the practice you are thankful for. Another week you could focus solely on your emotions before and after practice. You can cover it in sticky notes, doodles, color-coded questions to ask your teacher, and highlights of particular classes that you enjoyed or found value in.

There is no right way to do this, just a different way to suit you. The most important thing is that it brings you closer to the practice, and therefore closer to yourself.

Example of a cheap notebook to use for yoga journaling

My yoga journal

a list of 10 question prompts for yoga journaling

My question prompts

An example of a self-made structure for yoga journaling including notes, questions, class info, date, and time.

Yesterday’s thoughts

Staying Consistent with Yoga Journaling

Though journaling about your yoga practice can be one of the best things to bring you deeper into the world of yoga, staying the course is no easy feat. Below are my tips that have helped me stick with this often insightful but occasionally grueling practice.

Tip 9: Storing your yoga journal

The first few weeks of journaling were a sharp learning curve, in no small part due to the fact that I kept my journal on my nightstand and therefore was too tired to write in it before bed. It was wholly removed from the yoga part of my day. It took me a good three weeks to have the brainwave that perhaps keeping it in my yoga space would be more beneficial.

My space at home currently consists of a mat already rolled out with a couple of blocks and a blanket stored neatly up against the nearby wall. At work, it’s just my travel mat behind my office sofa. I practice far more frequently at home than I do at the office, so it makes more sense for me to keep my yoga journal there. However, as it contains some pretty personal stuff, I don’t really want it in view alongside my blocks and blanket.

So, I keep mine in the drawer designated for yoga clothes. That way, it’s not hidden from me, but it is in a place where others won’t find it all too easily. It is also still in a place that is connected to my yoga practice.

Keep your journal in a place that is connected to your yoga practice and not in full view of family or visitors.

Tip 10: Practicing Tapas

There will be days when you really don’t want to journal. Practice can bring up some heavy emotions. Listen to your body here, and if it is really too heavy to write about, practice some self-care and do something lighter instead.

However, if you’re like me and are always looking for the “get out of jail free” card, then this is your (and my) gentle reminder that consistent practice of yoga and yoga journaling is exercising another yoga muscle called Tapas (not the tasty kind, unfortunately).

Tapas is a term in yoga used to describe motivation’s ugly sister, discipline. Developing discipline is an integral component when creating your personal home yoga routine.

Every time you open the journal, you are practicing yoga because you are practicing tapas. 

Tip 11: Reviewing past entries

One reason I believe a yoga journal to be such a valuable tool is that you begin to build up a history of your own practice, a map of your healing if you will. After a few months, you will have the chance to review past entries, allowing yourself the opportunity to reflect on how far you’ve come, and how yoga is working for you.

Use this as a tool for developing greater self-awareness and self-appreciation. Avoid negatively judging yourself because you know what? You’re doing just fine.

Tip 12: Setting new goals

Looking back at past entries and seeing how the practice is unfolding for you then gives you some perspective on where you want the practice to take you. For example:

  • Do you feel like you’ve made some peace with downward dog for now and instead want to focus on developing a sense of calm in tree pose (even if it happens to be a windy day and your tree is swaying all over the place)?
  • Is there any particular movement you want to focus on, or an asana that you secretly detest but want to make peace with?
  • Are you feeling a little calmer off the mat and are now interested in finding out more about how yoga can help with stress management?
  • Have you had those moments of illumination on the mat where you suddenly gain insight into a pattern you want to make or break and are now keen to focus on how yoga can help with developing greater self-awareness?
  • Are you now feeling confident enough to try out a few classes in your local yoga studio?

Becoming stagnant in our yoga practice is a common ailment of the yoga practitioner. Keeping a yoga journal is a great way to help you out of that rut and back into forward momentum.

Tip 13: Creating a reward system

We have finally arrived at my favorite tip. And perhaps the most important one, too. Journaling about your yoga practice is not easy. However, there are ways to make it less painful. Consider creating a simple reward system. In the back of your journal, write down a list of things or experiences that won’t break the bank and that you’d enjoy doing. I call mine The Top Treats. It includes:

  • going for a hike with Amy (one of my oldest friends)
  • attempting a recipe by Ottolenghi just for me
  • spending an afternoon getting creative with my art stuff that never sees the light of day
  • organizing a “Dinner & Hotel” night with two of my closest friends.
  • Setting aside one night this week for a Cheese & Wine & Movie bonanza with me, myself, and I (and perhaps a cat or two)
  • Spending a whole afternoon with the cats, if they allow it.

This is really up to you, but I tick off one reward per month, at the end of the month. You could even incorporate a big bucket list item for when you’ve done a whole year. After a year of yoga, off I go for a flying lesson or sky dive, or finally get that tattoo I’ve always secretly wanted.

This whole process ties your practice of yoga and yoga journaling to joyful, positive moments in life. It helps you to remember to take yoga seriously, but to take life and yourself a little less so. 

What next?

And that’s it for now. If you’d like to get started with yoga at home and would like a framework for doing so, click the button below to get my free Home Yoga Prep guide.

For some accountability and community, be sure to join my Beginners’ Yoga Facebook group, we would LOVE to see you there.

For some inspirational tidbits, follow me over on Instagram and drop me a DM to say hi. I’m so looking forward to connecting with you and helping you further along your yoga path.

FAQs about Yoga Journaling

What is yoga journaling?

  • It involves recording your thoughts, experiences, and reflections before or after your yoga sessions.
  • It helps you connect with your inner self and track your yoga journey.

What are some benefits of yoga journaling?

  • Self-awareness: Gain insights into your emotions, thoughts, and physical sensations.
  • Progress tracking: Monitor your yoga practice, noting improvements and areas to work on.
  • Stress reduction: Release pent-up emotions and stress through journaling.
  • Goal setting: Set and achieve specific yoga goals.

How can yoga journaling deepen my practice?

  • Mind-body connection: Journaling fosters a deeper understanding of how your body responds to yoga.
  • Reflection: Reviewing your journal entries helps you identify patterns and areas for growth.
  • Intention setting: Set clear intentions for your practice, enhancing focus and purpose.

How do I stay committed to yoga journaling?

  • Create a routine: Set aside dedicated time for journaling, ideally before or after your yoga sessions.
  • Start small: Begin with short entries and gradually build your journaling habit.
  • Use prompts: Explore journaling prompts to inspire your writing.
  • Stay accountable: Share your journaling journey with a friend or join a yoga Facebook group for support.