Most of us recognize that journaling is a valuable activity, but it may not be high on our priority lists. There are so many things competing for our attention that taking the time to stop and write for the sake of writing may be the last thing on your mind. With a few simple tweaks in your day, you can harness the power of journaling to improve your yoga practice and your overall well being.
Journal with a purpose
Journaling often gets put on the back-burner because people don't define why it's important to them. A yoga retreat can be the perfect place to determine what you can get out of journaling because the spacious itineraries allow for self-reflection. You don't have to wait until you land in Panama or India to start reaping the benefits of getting your thoughts out on paper, though. Take a look at the list of benefits below, and see if any of them resonate with you.
Benefits of journaling on a regular basis
Get things out on paper
We're all carrying a lifetime of experiences with us. They've helped shape us into the people we are today, but there are undoubtedly some moments that require deeper reflection. Maybe we've made a bad choice or someone has harmed us through their poor choices. Writing about your experiences might be a way to work through them.
Journaling has proven physical and mental health benefits for people healing from trauma and serious illness or struggling with anxiety, and depression. In a recent study, researchers also found evidence that expressive writing improved the immune system, lowered blood pressure, and increased lung and liver function in their study subjects.
Whether or not you work in a creative field, there's something fulfilling and refreshing about taking time to make something.
"You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have." —Maya Angelou
If things are feeling stagnant in some aspect of your life, taking some time to write can give you a creativity boost. You'll feel the ripple effects of this activity when you come up with new ways to solve problems.
Define and refine your vision
We're big fans of wandering at Mindful Balance Retreats, but we also know that without setting a vision for yourself, it's easy to get lost. Use your writing time to think about why you're doing what you're doing. It's easier to overcome challenges if you can understand exactly what you're doing and why you're doing it.
Leave something for posterity
Sometimes your writing is for your eyes alone, but you may also want to share your thoughts with others. Perhaps you're reflecting so that you can pass what you've learned with a loved one.
Alternatively, you might want to document a specific state of mind so that your future self can benefit from it at a later date. You could journal during a yoga retreat so that the next time you feel overwhelmed or uninspired, you can recall the positive state of mind you had on your trip. Maybe it'll remind you of an insight you had while you were working on yourself. Your writings might be the thing that helps you flip the script and overcome whatever life is throwing your way.
How journaling fits into yoga practice
When we practice, we can experience so many things at once. How an asana made us feel, some profound wisdom your teacher spoke, or how you plan to embody your intention are all worthy of being put into writing. Svadyaya (self-study) is one of the niyamas (the five observances). Svadyaya, much like asana, requires consistent practice in order to gain the greatest benefits.
As a teacher, recording your experiences can inform your practice and make you better able to help students. Processing what worked and didn't work at that retreat, workshop, or class will help you create an even better program next time.
Start with something simple
You may not have tons of time, but you can still reap the benefits of adding journaling into your practice. Try something small like setting an intention first thing in the morning. Commit it to writing as soon as you wake up, and then take no more than five minutes to reflect on it at the end of your day.
Another option is to list a few things you did well, and a few areas where you'd like to improve. You can complete this type of activity in about five minutes as well. You could also use your journal as a place to record what you're grateful for each day. It's a good idea to do this even when you've had a bad day. Even on a bad day, you can take time to appreciate things you may take for granted. (i.e. I am breathing. I was able to eat today.)
Those structures can help you establish a journaling habit, but you shouldn't feel fenced in by them. When your schedule allows for it and as you feel called to do so, allow your writing to expand where it needs to go.
Take your journal on the road
When you're packing for your retreat, don't forget to bring your journal with you. Students and teachers alike have breakthroughs during retreats. Bringing your journal gives you the means to work through whatever arises, write out your intentions, and record what you learn as it happens. You might purchase some nifty souvenirs in your travels, and you may see some incredible sights. Your journal is a way to acknowledge the less-tangible fruits of your journey — the work you've done on yourself.
Are you craving the chance to set your story in a fantastic location? Our early bird discount for Panama is available until the end of August.