The 4 surprising health benefits of journaling

Are you a yogi who wants to deepen your practice? Laura Heggs lays out the 4 surprising health benefits of journaling and how it can help you on your yoga journey.

by Laura Heggs 

Image by Jessica Taylor

Discipline your mind

Although many people start their yoga practice with asana, or physical postures, the other seven limbs of yoga play a vital role in our personal practice and wellbeing. These limbs are the yamas, the niyamas, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi.

Exploring and understanding these limbs is similar to a postural practice – it takes consistent practice to grasp each and apply them to your life.  Journaling is an excellent tool to discover more about these limbs, deepening your yoga practice beyond the mat.

Image by Jessica Taylor

Discipline your senses

Journals are ultimate tool to study yourself, an important part of any yoga practice. Self study,or svadhyaya, the fourth niyama, is critical to understanding yourself. Writing down your internal thoughts, whether prompted or unprompted, provides insight into your thought patterns. Journaling also opens the door to pratyahara, the fifth limb that relates to withdrawing the senses, and dharana, the sixth limb that relates to concentration . When you get comfortable with journaling, your find your flow, activating pratyahara and turning your senses completely to journaling, thus turning on your pratyahara.  Consider what you would like to learn about yourself from keeping a journal. This will help you figure out daily prompts and patterns to discover more about your yourself or find a journal that prompts for you.

Image by Jessica Taylor

See how well you’re doing

Writing down our thoughts, including what has happened in a day, as well as our physical and emotional state, creates a valuable record that we can refer back to. Journaling helps to capture us in a present moment- it also helps us get an “outside’ view of what is happening inside by keep data on ourselves. This is a retrospective way to self-study and bring each of the five yamas into your journaling. For example, are you adhering to non-violence in your writing (ahimsa)? Are you using your time and energy wisely, honouring both asteya and brahmacharya? Are you practicing satya by seeing the truth in your past actions, thoughts and behaviours? A written record can help you see where you are, and where you would like to go in your practice.

Image by Jessica Taylor

Find contentment

Practicing daily gratitude and reflection can have powerful effects on the ways we see and interact with the world. While reflection is another form of self-study by giving concentrated serious thought to our lives, relationships and self, reflecting specifically on gratitude can be especially powerful. When you practice gratitude, your practice santosha, the second niyama that relates to finding contentment in your life. This mindful act of celebrating what you have vs. grasping for what you do not and can change your mind set in a powerful way, shifting from a mindset of scarcity to one of abundance. Journaling provides a mental space needed to stop, reflect, and cultivate this our minds for gratitude. Taking the time to list what you are grateful for is a great way to both begin and end the day on a centred, positive note.

The First Step is to Start

Starting a daily yoga journal requires three simple things: a journal of your choosing, something to write with and the dedication to make it part of your everyday ritual. If you feel overwhelmed by the idea of starting a journal, check out one specifically geared toward yoga practitioners: The Yogis Journal. This journal provides daily prompts to help guide you through daily reflection, tying it to the yamas and niyamas to help jumpstart journaling from an idea to action, making it an everyday habit.

“The first journal for yoga that combines yoga philosophy with modern psychology, to provide you with the ultimate guide for your yoga journey.”

Find out more by visiting Laura’s baby, The Yogis Journal website, and purchasing your own copy via Kickstarter.

Image by Jessica Taylor