Valuable addition: Why you should use journaling as a yoga teacher

Journaling is all the rage. The many variations of therapeutic writing are suitable for almost any situation in life. Numerous journals that you only have to fill out are now on the market to help you get started.

Journaling has also arrived in yoga classes. By means of specific reflection questions, the effect of the individual asanas can be additionally deepened, whereby the students profit even more from the practice.

As a teacher, you should definitely consider making journaling a regular part of your own routine, and not just offer it in your classes. Why? Here are my top 3 reasons why you should use journaling as a yoga teacher.

Personal growth as a teacher through journaling

Of course, in addition to teaching, you shouldn’t neglect your own practice. By documenting it-whether you’re practicing on your own or taking a class-and noting what felt good and what didn’t, you’ll get a better sense of what might be good for your group, which asanas are appropriate for which subject, and more. But you shouldn’t just write about your yoga practice, you should also engage with yourself through journaling.

With regular journaling you get to know yourself better: As a person and as a teacher. You learn who you are, what your values are, what you want to stand for, what you are comfortable with and what you are not. The better you are in touch with yourself, the more authentic you can be in the classroom.

Refined cuing

As you get into the habit of keeping track of your own practice, you will notice that your announcements become more accurate over time. Why? You are much more intensely aware of how individual exercises feel and what they can trigger on a mental level; what parts of the body are involved, where attention should be directed. If you incorporate this knowledge into your announcements, they will become much more understandable and vivid for your participants.

More creative lessons

Have you ever wondered where to get fresh ideas for new lessons? One way is to keep an “inspiration journal”. In it, you record everything that could be inspiring for your classes: creative sequences and transitions that you picked up as a participant; asanas that you didn’t know yet; announcements that were particularly on point; but not only things from yoga class, but also from everyday life. Quotes, experiences, and interesting conversations might give you topics for new lessons.

No matter what strikes your fancy or how banal it may seem to you – write it down! Feel free to add comments to the entry about why you think you could use this point in your teaching.

So, both personally and professionally, you can benefit greatly from journaling. Just grab a blank notebook and pen and get started right away!

Have fun writing, teaching, and growing!

Yoga & me – a love story

Do you know that? A first meet-up, sparks fly and you’re sure – this is it!

That’s not how it went with yoga and me.

Love at first sight? Absolutely not. Not even at second sight.

A rocky start

We already had our first “date” when I was still a teenager. My parents’ health insurance offered a yoga class especially for school kids and their typical ailments – wrong posture, poor concentration, growing pains. All costs were covered, so my parents thought “why not?” and signed me up.

There’s something you need to know about me before I start telling you about my first yoga experience: Even as a thirteen-year-old, I was very interested in spirituality and aware that I ponder and worry a lot more than the average teenie. Yep, even back then I had my issues with mental chatter. Fights with my parents, harmless bickering in the schoolyard, in-class tests – annoying for most of my peers, but not really a problem. I, on the other hand, mulled over that stuff endlessly: Was I well enough prepared for that vocab test? What if not? Was that fight my fault? Had I been unfair? Should I go and apologize? Shoulda, woulda, coulda…

At the same time, yoga became more and more popular and I had already read one article or two about it. In different magazines, there were pieces about how it helped with back pain, but also how the meditative aspect, the movement with the breath, brought peace and quiet to the mind.

I knew: I needed that.

So, we’re not talking about a stubborn teenager here who was totally against it and only participated in class because mom and dad insisted. No – I was open and actually excited for it.

The first “date”

My first experience with yoga was more meditative than active

The course took place in the rooms of a rescue service, where they usually held first-aid classes. It wasn’t a room with white walls and buddha statues, as one might expect. Everything was very dry and down-to-earth, including the teacher. We moved very slowly, didn’t really work up a sweat. I remember that I felt a pang of disappointment because this had nothing to do with the graceful postures that were shown in the magazines. The course went for eight weeks, and during that time, I wasn’t intrigued. I felt bored, I didn’t feel like all of that had any impact on my mind or my body, so I didn’t continue when the course ended. I still know that I thought it was a pity. More than anything, I would have loved something to control my overthinking, but yoga just didn’t seem to be for me.

Almost 10 years passed until I stepped on a mat again.

A second chance

I was in my semester abroad the US, recovering from a pneumonia and realized that my body was craving movement again, even though I still felt pretty sluggish. When a roommate asked me if I wanted to come to yoga with her, I said yes. I remembered the super slow practice from my previous class, so I thought this would be great after being sick.

Unfortunately, that teacher had a totally different approach. It was exhausting, demanding, sweaty – exactly the opposite of what you need when you’ve just been sick and still not 100% fine. That’s why I felt awful afterwards. I was totally beaten and spent the rest of the day in bed. Do I have to mention that I didn’t go to yoga again during that semester?

Again, several years passed until I gave it another shot.

“Yoga is just not for me”

I realized: Gym-Yoga isn’t for me either

By now I was living and working in Bonn and went to the gym with some colleagues every week. At some point, we got the idea that we could go to one of the yoga classes.

I began to hope again: Even though my experiences with yoga hadn’t been great so far, I was still convinced that it was just what I needed. I still thought that I got upset way too quickly. So far, I hadn’t liked yoga – but I wanted to like it! So, I went to one of the courses with a colleague of mine.

Was that the day when it clicked? Nope, unfortunately not.

Back then, I didn’t know anything about yoga, but I always thought I would get into some kind of flow state (it is called “yoga flow”, after all!), that I would be able to relax or that I would get some kind of inner peace. None of that happened.

To make it even worse, the teacher had a very weird way of speaking and pronouncing the words. Throughout the class, I had to keep myself from laughing. Again, I couldn’t get into it and left the class thinking that I should accept that yoga just wasn’t for me.

Just like many of us, I finally came to yoga because of a crisis.

Some kind of quarter-life crisis

I was in a phase where I was very unhappy with my job and my private life. I didn’t have a Plan B either, because I didn’t really know anymore what I wanted. As a result, I got lethargic, which didn’t make anything better.

Finally, I got to a point where I just couldn’t do it anymore. I quit my job without having a new one and went traveling. In that same year, I had become friends with an American girl while I was in Costa Rica, who was now in Lombok, teaching English. She invited me to stay with her, so I planned my trip around that visit.

Just the right place to find yourself again….
…where everything feels magical

It was a great time. We drank tequila in Indonesian beach bars and ate fabulous food while listening to live bands, our feet buried in the sand. We discovered the Gili islands, snorkeled with sea turtles and danced in a club by the ocean on Halloween. We got massages, visited temples… and spent time with her roommate, who was a yoga teacher.

Due to an injury, I couldn’t take a class with her, but we talked about the topic a lot. Her charisma did the rest: she was bubbly, cheerful, genuine, the typical “life of the party” personality, but still she emanated an impressive calmness. She seemed to be totally at ease with herself.

I thought: If this is what yoga does, I want it too.

Before I went for my next destination Thailand, she advised me to look for a yoga studio back in Germany, instead of taking classes at the gym, as the approaches were so different. I promised myself to give yoga another chance.

Sparks are flying!

Back in Germany, I still ended up at the gym (another one by now). I still had a contract there and was looking for a new job, so I didn’t want to spend extra money on a yoga studio.

That was the class where the sparks finally flew!

Yoga & I – finally we found each other!

The lights were dimmed, candles were burning, the movements were fluent and felt harmonious to me. It was the right mix of strenuousness and relaxation, of spiritual and down-to-earth. This was it: yoga had me hooked. From then on, Monday evenings were reserved. Shortly after that, I got a job in Frankfurt, where I signed up at a yoga studio. And the rest is history.

Ever since, yoga and I have been inseparable, and I can’t imagine my life without it.

Did the mind chatter leave me alone since then? Absolutely not.

Do I still have a tendency for overthinking? Hell yes.

BUT: Now I have a tool to get me out of my occasional funks. Why did it take me so long? I don’t know. Maybe I never had the right teacher, maybe I wasn’t receptive enough.

Me without yoga? Unthinkable!

What counts, though, is that I didn’t stop trying after the first time.

All the hopes I had put into yoga eventually came true. Sometimes it pays off to listen to that little voice telling you “try again – it might be worth it”.

A few years have passed since I have fallen head over heels in love with yoga. Read about what I’ve learned during these years and how I became a yoga teacher.

What’s your own story with yoga? Share it in the comments!

When the motivation is dwindling – how to establish a consistent yoga practice

Even yogis are not immune to it, the famous inner couch potato. No matter how great and uplifting the first class may have been, as soon as everyday life, with all its obligations and stress, hits, many find it difficult to stay on the ball. After a long day, the couch and the next Netflix series seem too tempting. But don’t worry: if you really want to bring regularity to your yoga practice, here are a few tips for you.

Find a buddy

Going to class together with a yoga buddy is not only more fun, but you can also spur each other on. Canceling is much harder when you have someone else waiting for you, as you automatically feel much more “responsible”. If one of you has a low point, the other buddy can provide motivation. Also nice: A meal together afterwards as a reward!

Know your exact “why”

Why do you personally go to yoga? And why do you want to stick with it? When you know exactly what you get out of your practice, you have an intrinsic incentive. Is it your aching back that feels better afterwards? Is it your mental merry-go-round, which calms down during practice? Maybe you just want to get more flexible or stronger? All of these are valid reasons – find yours and recall it when you think about skipping your session!

Take part in a challenge

Especially at the start of a new year, there are often various yoga challenges online that ask you to stick with it for a month or more. A challenge like this is great for developing a new habit. You may decide to just do the challenge, but often you get so used to the regular practice that you don’t want to give it up afterwards.

Create incentives

Make your yoga practice as enjoyable as possible! It should be something you can really look forward to. Maybe you want to buy some really nice, comfy yoga clothes or a mat and accessories in your favorite color? Maybe this is your time to finally light that expensive scented candle you’ve been saving for a special occasion? Find out what makes your yoga practice more enjoyable for you, whether in the studio or at home.

Find your right style and studio

Self-discipline becomes difficult without fun on the mat. With so many styles of yoga, it can feel overwhelming to find the style that suits you, but trying it out can also be a lot of fun. Whether it’s relaxing Yin Yoga or sweaty Ashtanga Yoga, there’s a wide range to choose from! Of course, you can also combine several styles. The important thing is that you have fun and can achieve your “why” (point 2) with the chosen style. If you want to practice in a studio, choose one where you feel comfortable. The space, the size of the classes, the people – all this should appeal to you. And the location also plays an important role: the more difficult it is for you to reach the studio, the more difficult it will be for you to actually go there on a day with little motivation.

I wish you much success – and of course fun! – in your duel with your inner couch potato.