Art Journaling for Self Care

open page of art journal for art journaling for self care
“Stay Strong” mixed media art journal page by @maycontainpaper

(materials used above include old book pages, vintage handwriting, PDF download numbers, acrylic paint & Tim Holtz artist tissue & phrases)

Self care has become the big go to phrase of late. And now, in this strange time of Covid, it has become more important than ever.

For me I have really begun to lean on creative outlets as a way of meeting self care needs. One of my favorite ways of creating is through art journaling.

So, what is art journaling and what exactly is an art journal?

Art journaling is a creative way of showing ideas, thoughts and experiences through art. Using collage, mixed media, sketching and words (among other techniques) your art journal is a personal, creative, visual expression of you.

Why to Art Journal

As a yogi, I liken art journaling to a form of meditation. Sitting quietly in front of a page and combining collage with color, words and sketching is calming and brings the focuses the mind.

The purpose of the journal isn’t to create a perfect piece of art in much the same way that forming the perfect yoga pose isn’t the goal. It is the practice of journaling creatively with your own choice of words, color and pattern. As with yoga, it is the journey and not the destination that is key.

For a yogi, it is much like a regular yoga practice. The contrast between the beginning of a yoga practice and the end of a yoga practice. Sitting down to art journal feels like sitting down on your yoga mat and working with words, colors and imagery as you would work through poses.

As a yogi, I liken art journaling to a form of meditation

How to Start

The physical journal itself is not important. Some people work in a planner, others choose to journal in a dedicated sketchbook and others may create their own journal (which is a great self care craft too ūüėČ

yellow art journal page
“I feel so lucky” mixed media art journal page by @maycontainpaper

(materials used above include old book pages, handmade paper, magazine cutouts, handprinted tissue papers, black fine line marker, acrylic paint & Tim Holtz phrases)

Gather Materials

Gather your materials for your art journaling. This does not have to be special equipment. In fact, a quick rummage around your home could easily unearth an old planner and pen. Even one of your children’s discarded exercise books and colored pencils would work. Or maybe a bound note book with a cheap set of acrylic paints is perfect starting point. The weight of the paper or the brand of the pencil isn’t important. Just choose the materials that are to hand and the colors that appeal to you.

Sitting down to art journal feels like sitting down on your yoga mat and working with the words, colors and imagery as you would work through the poses.

You may like to add other paper ephemera and magazine imagery to work in collage. Trying mixing different paint mediums with pencil & chalk or add glitter and stitches. No rules! (you can see some ideas for creating a very simple journal here on yogaskinny)

A quick search on google or instagram of art journaling will bring up a whole swathe of art journal work. Use these as a quick visual resource to inspire you to start. Avoid copying too closely and let your own color choices and marks start you on your journey.

Art journaling is a very personal practice. Your own creative work will always have more depth and meaning than recreating the work of others.

Give it a try and see how meditative art journaling can be and make creativity part of you self care routine.

All of the art journal pages shown here are my own pages from my Instagram account @maycontainpaper

“Choose to see the good stuff” mixed media page by @maycontainpaper

(materials used above include old book pages, magazine cutouts, handprinted tissue papers, black fine line marker, brown packing tape, white paint pen, gold leaf, acrylic paint & Tim Holtz phrases)

7 Useful Tasks for Yoga Teachers to do during COVID19

Useful tasks for yoga teachers and teachers in training to do during the covid19 shutdown

2020 has turned in to a year of unsettling challenge for everyone, including yoga teachers. As a result of Covid19 the global population has had to manage a myriad of changes from personal lifestyle to working life.

Many industries have been impacted heavily and the yoga industry is one of those. As shared spaces such as gyms and yoga studios have had to temporarily close teaching yoga has had to adapt.

Online classes and teaching via the web have become the norm and a way to maintain a teaching schedule. But these changes have also freed us up from time commitment of traveling and managing several teaching slots in different locations. With the stay at home situation we have an opportunity to spend some of this time on other yoga related tasks.

Here is a list of 7 useful tasks for yoga teachers to do during Covid19.

1. Clean your yoga mat

Take the time to cleanse all of your yoga props. Use organic products to clean your mat, blocks and other hard props. It is also a worthwhile laundering blankets and any bolsters or eye pillows that have removable covers.

There are many organic yoga mat cleaners available – take a look at these essential oil yoga mat cleaning products.

2. Review your Mission Statement

As a yoga teacher, defining is one of the most useful tasks you can do. During this time of significant changes take time to review your expectations, career & study plans and offerings. What do you want from your yoga teaching?

Take a look at yogaskinny’s blog post about the importance of your mission statement or click here for a yoga mission statement template available on yogaskinnystudio.

With the stay at home situation we have a chance to work on other yoga related tasks

3. Study

Read those yoga books you have always meant to catch up with or invest is some new areas of the practice. You might want to improve your anatomy understanding, read about a different school of yoga such as Iyengar, or study the Yoga Sutras in more depth

4. Update your Yoga Study Tracker

Becoming a yoga teacher requires constant trainings and workshop participation along with, more recently, online studying. All of these form an important part of our ongoing learning and practice and it is important to document these.

Also, take some time to collate all of the teaching hours you have already completed. This is critical information, particularly if you are working toward Yoga Alliance memberships. Take a look at yogaskinnystudio’s downloadable PDF Study Tracker as a useful tool to keep this information in one place.

yoga study tracker work in progress for yoga teachers & teachers in training
A valuable resource for yoga teachers to keep track of their studies & teaching hours

5. Get Creative

It is well documented how a creative practice, in whatever discipline you enjoy, is a great form of self care. For me, journaling and crafting are my favorite creative practices outside of yoga. Take some time out to pursue you favorite creative pastime.

This could be writing, baking or crafting amongst countless others. If you are interested in creating something to complement your yoga practice take a look here or decorate your own dedicated yoga journal ready for you to document your practice and your thoughts.

Despite the challenges presented to us through this difficult time it is always valuable to look for the positive in a situation

6. Yoga Class Planning

Take some time to organize your class plans or spend time on your mat working on new themes, transitions and sequencing. Adapting to online teaching requires creative solutions for demonstrating and working through poses when yoga teachers cannot be physically standing next to your student. Use a dedicated Yoga Class Planner to create classes for constant referral.

7. Practice, Practice, Practice

Spending more time at home gives us an opportunity to spend more time on the mat. Or does it? If you’re struggling to get in to a routine because of your changes in routine that a look here for some simple tips.

Despite the challenges presented to us through this difficult time it is always valuable to look for the positive in a situation. Regard this change in our lives as an opportunity to offer a new perspective and provide us with helpful tools to deal with it.

Ten 10 Minute Screen Free Self Care Activities

I know, I know. You’re reading a blog so you are on a screen right now. But this is a list of ten 10 minute screen free self care activities you can do for your own wellbeing.

I realize that during these surreal times of Covid 19, technology and screens have been an absolute necessity for reasons of work, communication, education, entertainment and online shopping & finance.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very grateful for technology but I have to admit I’m beginning to get screen weary.

So fight the urge, just once a day, to ignore the phone and do something else that doesn’t involve a screen….for just ten minutes. Once you create the habit you may find ten minutes just isn’t enough.

Ten 10 Minute Screen Free Self Care Activities

1 Read just one chapter or a handful of pages. There is that book in your possession that you have always meant to read. Take the opportunity to start now. If you’re looking for suggestions, check out yogaskinny’s book reviews for great self care reads, Iyengar classics or yoga anatomy books.

2 Browse a Magazine. Select a magazine that inspires you. Stampington & Company publish a great range of creative magazines. Try Bella Grace – a beautifully photographed and written magazine. It’s a combination of magazine and journal and is sure to inspire and uplift.

Bella Grace is a beautifully written & photographed magazine

Crafted Yoga Flash Cards

mixed media yoga pose tags in a swatch

We’re living at a surreal and stressful time. With the arrival of coronavirus, a stay at home advisory is affecting much of the world’s population and we’re learning to cope with the changes to our day to day routines.

Practicing yoga and spending time on creative projects are two great self care strategies to help manage these challenges.

Yoga pose mixed media tag swatch
Fun and colorful yoga pose flash card swatch

Alongside yoga my favorite creative thing to spend free time doing is working with collage, mixed media and upcycling projects. (I share my mixed media craft on Instagram @maycontainpaper)

I came across a bunch of crafted yoga flash cards I had made for myself during a teacher training. They were simple line drawings and text on index cards but I wanted to make better use of them for home practice. I decided to embellish them in to something more upbeat, fun and colorful.

downward facing dog flash card tag

Yoga Asana Life Drawing

Quick sketches of yoga poses showing the form of the pose and observing bodies.  Useful for yoga instructors

I had an opportunity to do some yoga asana life drawing.  What better way to combine yoga & creativity!

Life drawing is a wonderful way to fulfill your creativity but also, as a study of the human form, it is very helpful to yoga instructors. In fact, I recently came across a website dedicated to this creative practice!

Observing bodies is part of the job of a skilled yoga teacher.  When we teach a class we are confronted with a group of people all with different anatomical make up, physical challenges and experience.

yoga asana life drawing trikonasana
Observe the student. Sketch credit – yogaskinny

Teach people, not poses

We are all unique and our muscles, joints and posture all work together to give us our own personal, physical blueprint.  As a yoga teacher we need to identify and work with these differences adjusting asana and using props to serve our students best. 

As I’ve heard many an experienced yoga teacher say ¬†– ‚Äėteach people, not poses‚Äô.

So, if you have an opportunity to do some yoga asana life drawing take it!

Keep your sketching loose. Use a soft pencil or pastels to keep the marks you make fluid and not too precious.

You already know the form of the poses but when you look at the student from a sketching perspective you really observe the position of the hand in relation to the shin in trikonasana. Or the length of the spine in a forward fold.

yoga asana life drawing - ardha uttanasana with chair and strap
Notice the spine lengthening. Sketch credit – yogaskinny

As you sketch you’ll notice how differently the over flexible students form the pose in contrast to the new student or the yogi working with injuries or limitations. All useful visual information to help you in your asana and anatomy understanding.

Yoga asana life drawing - inversions
Sketch credit – yogaskinny

Use sketching as a way to keep learning and understanding more about the human body. Use it as a tool alongside other ways of constant learning about the art of yoga.

Asana Life Drawing – the Perfect ‘Pop up’ Class

Sketching in this way is much like yoga class planning. Using your knowledge and experience of yoga to create a flow sequence of poses that work together like pencil marks to form the bigger picture.

See if your local studio is offering a yoga life drawing class, and if they’re not, suggest it. They’re the perfect idea for a ‘pop up’ class and lots of fun to do!

Use your creativity to inspire your teaching and class planning.