Writing is the prism through which I see and experience the world.
Whether it’s my to-do list, journal pages, writing practice prompts, blog posts, fiction or essays—it all lays bare my thoughts, vulnerabilities and obsessions. Writing helps me make sense of the world. It helps tame the chaos of my monkey mind. It keeps me in touch with what I really think and feel, helping me to shed the masks I wear.
Yoga does the same. Once I committed to a serious practice, I immediately saw how yoga could enrich my writing. Now, I also see how writing can enrich any yoga practice, even if you aren’t a writer. All it takes is some paper, pen and a willingness to be real.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Keep a dedicated yoga practice journal.
It doesn’t have to be fancy. Any notebook will do. You could even decorate the cover with a collage of inspiring quotes and photos.
2. Keep your hand moving.
This is essential to bypass your inner critic or editor. You don’t have to write fast, but do keep writing even if it’s: “I don’t know what to write next. This is stupid. I don’t write.” Once the hand stops writing, the mind starts thinking and it’s usually not lovely compassionate thoughts. So, just keep that hand moving slow and steady across the page.
3. Date the entries.
Besides keep your hand moving, this is really the only other so-called rule. Dating the entries helps to see where you’re at physically, mentally and emotionally. It also makes it easier to observe patterns and cycles.
4. Write an intention.
Before starting a yoga practice, we often set an intention. Try taking a moment to write it down. Keep it simple. The act of writing it down aligns your heart with your desire and your intention with the Universe. Powerful stuff.
5. Take note of where you’re at before practice.
Jot a few notes on how you are feeling physically. Any aches or pains? What’s your energy level?
How about emotionally? Are you frazzled? Frustrated? Happy? Sad?
How about mentally? Are you present or stuck in the past or projecting into the future? What’s your self-talk? Is it critical or compassionate?
6. Take note of where you are after practice.
I prefer to freewrite after practice which I think of as finger-painting with words. It’s playful exploration. Instead of methodically thinking back over the practice, I let whatever comes up, come up and through me onto the page. And remember to breathe.
During practice I…
7. Trust the process.
During practice, try not to think about what you may or may not write after savasana. That defeats the purpose by taking you out of your body, out of the moment. Trust that whatever you need to remember, will be there at the end when you pick up your pen.
8. Set up a time to review the practice journal.
No need to read it that day. Let it simmer. Maybe let it sit a week or a month or until the notebook is filled. Then go back and read it with compassionate eyes and an open heart.
Writing allows me to tap into a deeper part of my heart, mind and consciousness. Writing in a practice journal allows me to sink deeper into yoga by bringing intention to my practice, awareness to patterns of thoughts and behavior which then helps take my practice beyond the asanas, off the mat and out into my beautiful, complex human life.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: elephant journal archives