By Anna Oldfield on 08 February 2012 | Video: How do you know you're ready to teach yoga?
Keeping a yoga journal is part of the YogaLondon teacher training course, and can be a beneficial habit for all yoga practitioners as well as teachers. There are many different ways of keeping a journal, and everyone’s method will be slightly different. Some people just keep a note of when they practised, for how long and the style of yoga, possibly with a few comments. Others may record lengthier descriptions of how they felt, their experiences surrounding the practice and the sequences used. Once you have found your journal style, filling it in regularly will provide you with great material for future reference and will help you to keep track of your personal development.
Your journal is a space for you to record your intentions for the practise and to set yourself areas to focus on. Whether you choose a different intention or theme daily, or keep the same one for a week or longer, making a note of it in your diary will help keep it fresh in your mind at the start of every practice. Writing out your experiences helps you to stay aware of the condition of your body and mind. Noting down asanas which are giving you trouble or where you need to check your alignment will help you to advance your practice and remember pointers about alignment, bandhas, chakras...Keeping a journal is also a way of remaining non-attached to your personal practice. The process of writing down your experiences and any response to your yoga session will help you to let go of any feelings you may otherwise carry with you off the mat or into your next practice.
If you are not sure where to start when writing a journal, where you practise and when is a good place to start. It is important to work out the best time of day for you as well as recording your responses to different styles, different teachers, and different practice environments. You can write out sequences you practised, asana that you would like to work deeper into, any aches or pains experienced. Think about how your breath was; did you find a good level of concentration? How long did you practise for? How did you feel immediately afterwards, or the next day? Asking yourself all of these questions will help you advance your practice in alignment with what your body and mind need when choosing classes or sequence
Your journal is also a space for planning lessons. You can record the sequences, your responses to trials of new class structures and how you feel the class found them. Reflecting on how you felt teaching certain styles or classes will help you refine your own evolving teaching style, and noted down sequences can be a great resource to look back on for inspiration. What you write about your own experiences will also prove very useful for teaching. Recording the process of working through an injury and different adaptations or modifications will enable you to make your classes accessible for students who may find themselves in a similar situation. Collect quotes or anecdotes in a section of your journal to share with students when setting the intention of the class and preparing to practise, or as a leaving thought at the close of the session.
Make sure you always have your journal with you, and get in to a habit of spending a few minutes writing in it every time you practise. You’ll probably find that you’ll write more at the beginning when you have only just begun recording your yoga experiences, and with time you’ll only need to take down a couple of lines to cover all you need to say. Of course, it is also important to read back over it on a regular basis - you will be surprised at how much you forget or shove to the back of your mind! And a final word of warning: don’t let the journal take over! If you're in a class or workshop where the teacher says something inspirational, internalise it rather than trying to hold on to the exact phrase to write down later. You will certainly benefit more from a class by going with the flow rather than pausing to scribble down notes every five minutes, disrupting everyone else at the same time. Trust your memory and your body to recall powerful messages and discover your own words to express something which has touched you.