“The more free time we devote to shaping our minds, the better off we will be. I recommend waking up early to use the morning to meditate “. -Dalai Lama
Journaling daily has surprising benefits, many of which intersect with and complement a yoga practice. Journaling, like anything, takes dedication, consistency and practice, but the benefits are well worth the work. Use these tips and ideas below to explore and support your life, mornings, and yoga practice!
Journaling is an amazing ally, as you can do it anywhere and all you need is a writing utensil and a book with paper. Basic notebooks do the trick, however there are also more specialized journals for everything from goal setting to journal's for yoga practitioners.
Here are 5 morning journaling ideas that can jumpstart you towards amazing days. Have fun with them and explore which work best for you.
1. Get Grateful
A little gratitude can go a long way. Start you day by waking up and immediately listing 3 things you are grateful for. This habit can help you avoid picking up the smart phone, which fills your mind with outside thoughts, and instead helps you focus inward. The question to consider is “what do you have to be grateful today?”. Consider this question every morning and write down what comes each day, regardless of what it is. This helps set a positive tone for the day by showing appreciation and contentment for your life. It also relates to the yogic niyama of santosha, or contentment. You will be able to carry this gratitude throughout you day with this simple mindful practice. Plus, it feels good to do.
2. Set Your Daily intention
What is your main goal today? Where do you want your energy and focus to go? This is your intention, or the underlying thread that helps to connect your daily actions, forming a large, connected quilt of meaning. Think about it. A quilt has a collection of pieces, sometimes scraps of fabric that, on the one hand, look completely disconnected from the other scraps, but can positioned in such a way that makes sense. Each day is comprised of many parts, like the scraps, to form the whole of your day. Setting an intention helps you connect the various scraps in your life to create the pattern of actions and thoughts you desire for your day. Write your intention down, either every day or at the beginning of every week. Setting your intention is connected to the yogic niyama of self study, or svadhyaya.
3. Make a Plan
Making a plan helps to lay out a structure we so often need when first starting a new routine. Consider what your morning routine is now, and how you can adjust it to allow for new activities. Use the morning to place reminders on your calendar, finalize loose plans with a friend, or take notes to yourself to help keep your mind focused.
It can also be helpful to write down a reason you are wanting to start your new morning routine- is it for better health? Focus? Mental clarity? Whatever your reason, remind yourself of it when you feel unmotivated. A plan will help you get started and provide a platform to forming healthy habits. Making a plan to help stick to your ultimate goal, is an example of using the yogic niyama tapas, or self-discipline.
4. Tell yourself you are awesome
When you value yourself, your perspective on things changes greatly. At first it may seem odd to “talk” to yourself, by in reality we talk to ourselves all the time. When this talking is positive, you are starting to support and believe in yourself. When you believe in yourself, you are more likely to stick to your goals, move forward and find growth. Starting the day with a positive self-affirmation (spoken or written) can help your keep your inner voice positive, supportive and your number one fan as you move forward. Start each day by choosing an affirmation using the “I am” structure. For example, “I am strong. I am capable. I am happy” all follow this basic structure. Write “I am”into your journal and fill it in with a positive message. Showing this love and kindness toward yourself is an example of inserting the yama ahimsa toward yourself.
5. Take Care of Your Physical Body
When your physical body is strong, you layout the framework for a strong mind. Commit to caring for your body by keeping a regular yoga practice, a healthy diet and exercise. Use your journal to monitor your diet, yoga practice and how you are feeling each day. Looking back on these notes is a great way to explore your habits and notice where you could be healthier, how your refining your patterns, or how your yoga practice fits into your life. Journaling can surprisingly help keep you in top shape physically, by writing about the patterns you notice about your body, or how well you're maintaining healthy habits. Taking care of your physical body is an example of the yogic yama brahmacharya, or “right use of energy’ and of the niyama saucha, or cleanliness.
Starting a new habit takes time, but a journal and morning journaling routine can help you and improve the quality of your days. It requires dedicating time and focus your attention, something that many of us feel limited on or stretched to do, but it does not have to be an extensive time commitment. Journaling is like any practice that requires time and space to flow so you can explore, learn and grow. Give it a try to get to know yourself better and take your yoga practice off the mat.
Stay tuned for the 2nd part of this article where will explore setting an evening routine using a journal!
By Laura Heggs
Laura is an anthropologist and 500-hour RYT based in Norwich, UK.
Support your morning journaling with some morning yoga that you can do in under 30 minutes to start your day beautifully!
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