Writing About Yoga

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October 29, 2012

It’s no secret: I love writing about yoga! That’s why I started The Daily Downward Dog. So imagine my curiosity and delight to read a book that is completely devoted to writing about yoga. In Writing Yoga, Bruce Black has penned a beautiful guidebook on how to keep a journal about your yoga practice.

The book is part memoir and part writing guide, and I love all of the personal stories Bruce tells about his early yoga practice. From the embarrassment of walking into his first yoga class with his shoes on, to the exhilaration of coming into headstand for the first time, I could easily relate to his yoga journey. It made me wish that I had kept a journal during the early days of my yoga journey, but then I realized that many of my yoga experiences (or what I like to call yoga victories) have actually been captured here on this blog. Here are a few links to some of my early “yoga journal entries” that I am so happy that I took the time to record; now I can revisit them to see how far my yoga journey has taken me.

Boat Pose Mind Games – An important lesson on how to make it through boat pose. I loved reading this one because it made me realize how strong my core has become and how far I’ve come in my practice.

Favorite Savasana Moments – This is the story of a memorable experience during savasana.

Amazing Yoga Moments – An early yoga victory with tripod pose was fun to read, especially since I can now do tripod headstand and many other headstand poses.

My official yoga journaling began when I started my yoga teacher training. If you have not started to journal about your yoga practice, I highly recommend it. Writing down your yoga experiences can help you deepen your practice and understanding of yoga, and it is fantastic way to record and celebrate all those little victories you experience on the mat. It can also be used to record and work through the challenges you encounter on your yoga mat. If writing about your yoga practice alone doesn’t appeal to you, try using your journal to record all the brilliant ways you take the teachings of yoga off the mat and into your life.

Don’t worry if you typically clam up when faced with a blank page of a journal; Writing Yoga will fill you with inspiration, and each chapter offers writing exercises to get you on your way. Bruce covers a lot of ground and central yoga themes like moving past fear, finding your balance, learning to breathe, and listening to your voice. I found myself underlining many passages in the book and gained inspiration for quite a few yoga class themes. In fact, last week I used  portions of the chapter about trusting the process in my yoga classes.

“One of the most difficult things to learn in life is trust—trust in yourself and in others, trust in the process of moving frompose to pose, trust that you’ll find what you need in each moment. If the practice of yoga has taught me anything, it’s that learning to trust isn’t a possibility, it’s a necessity if you want to reach your full potential.” Bruce Black

This chapter is all about listening to your body and trusting what it tells you. During practice, we must always listen to our bodies and trust to know when to back away from a pose that’s too intense or a position that’s too challenging. We also need to trust our bodies and have confidence, knowing when we can move our bodies deeper into a pose.

Here is a portion from this chapter that I highlighted and will be using when I teach beginners classes:

“When you walk into a yoga class for the first time, not knowing anyone, not knowing what to do, you have to trust in whatever inspired you to take that first step, and then you have to take the next step and the next, trusting in the process of discovery. This abiding confidence in the process of life unfolding demands a certain amount of faith in yourself. You need to be willing to take risks, to make mistakes, to fail. Trusting the process gives you the ability to overcome setbacks and obstacles and, rather than despair, take joy in discovering the next step and the next.” - Bruce Black

And this is certainly one of the lessons we get from yoga that can be applied to pretty much every other part of life.

I think one of the reasons this chapter resonated with me is the statement Bruce makes about how we sit at our desks for hours, most of the time with aching necks and shoulders, and just ignore this pain. We don’t listen to our bodies and trust that they’re trying to tell us something. Our bodies tell us to get up, move, stretch, and breathe and are probably kicking us in the ass for not finding a more ergonomically correct way to sit. I ignore these pleas from my body every day. What about you? Are you listening to your body both on and off the mat? Close your eyes, take a good listen—your body has something to tell you.

Do yourself a favor and go out and buy yourself a journal (or open up a blank document on your computer, or create your own blog) and start writing about your yoga practice. I highly recommend picking up Writing Yoga as a companion guide. It’s full of unforgettable yoga stories, quotes, and inspirational exercises to capture the memorable moments of your yoga journey. There’s even a little surprise at the end of the book. I’m sure I will be writing more about this fine book in the future.

Fellow yoga journalers, what inspires you, what have you explored in your writing, and what are your favorite entries? Please leave a comment below to share about your experience in keeping a yoga practice journal.

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