In the hustle and bustle of modern life, where demands on our time and energy seem endless, it's easy to overlook regular exercise's profound impact on our overall well-being. Working out plays a pivotal role in maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle. With consistent practice, the physical and mental improvements become permanent and can increase the longevity and quality of our lives. Physical activity is a pillar of optimal health, influencing everything from cardiovascular function and mental acuity to emotional resilience. Let's explore some of our challenges and find compelling reasons why incorporating regular exercise into our spiritual journey is non-negotiable for creating a healthier, happier you.

Take the “Work” Out of the Workout

When we hear the word “workout,” what comes to mind? Do we jump with excitement and enthusiasm or moan and groan with dread? Statistics show it is usually the latter, so we are not alone. Only 23% of Americans get the Centers for Disease Control’s recommended 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week, along with muscle-strengthening exercises twice a week. 27% of men and 19% of women meet these criteria. Swami Mukundananda states in Golden Rules for Living Your Best Life that surveys show 64% of people in India do not exercise. Since most people are not naturally inclined to exercise, it requires effort and a mindset adjustment. The good news is, we can change this today, starting now! Swami Mukundananda has shared with us that establishing a new habit takes 21 consistent days of practice. Do you believe it is worth dedicating three weeks to creating a healthful lifestyle change?

Suggestions for Practical Application

Various Workout Options
Various Workout Options

Changes become routine with repeated practice, so here are some suggestions to help us create a structure for success. Instead of thinking about working out as something we have to do outside our other daily activities, make it a part of those activities using a technique called ‘habit stacking’, which connects new routines to existing ones. For example, wake up a little earlier and go for a walk or do sun salutations before getting ready for work. We can ‘habit stack’ our sadhana by doing yoga asanas or pranayam after morning pooja or dancing during kirtan. Create a physically and spiritually beneficial seva, such as forming a devotional walking group to help motivate others to install a daily exercise routine, as well as ourselves. Keep a daily journal to map our progress and the pros and cons of the workout routine so we can make adjustments. Apps like MyFitnessPal or GoogleFit make setting goals easy and tracking activity over time. It is important to find something fun, appealing, and sustainable so we can try different things until we find what works best. You may surprise yourself and discover a new interest or skill!

Get Fit by Any Means Necessary

Our intention is often correct, but our ambition exceeds our ability. Planning to climb Mt. Everest or run a marathon when we have never stepped foot in a gym leads to friction and early abandonment. Instead, start small and experience quick wins to create momentum and sustainability. If something stops the momentum, start again. Imagine the person you want to become through visualization and use language and self-talk that reinforces this image. A great way to do this is to establish S.M.A.R.T. goals for Specific, Measurable, Attractive, Realistic, and Timed. For example, if our goal is to do yoga four times weekly, we must check to see if it meets all the criteria. If we do not enjoy yoga, it will not be an attractive or realistic goal destined to fail. If we cannot adjust our schedule to allow for practice four times per week, we may not prevail again. Revise the goal until it is achievable in all five aspects, then proceed.SwamiMukundanandasays says, “Human life is too precious to risk on the draw of a lottery. The reliable path is forged by dedicated hard work, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year.”

Do Good. Be Good. Feel Good. - Swami Mukundananda

Do Good, Be Good, Feel Good!|Swami Mukundananda|TEDxDAVSchoolU8

This motto applies to our spiritual enhancement as well as our physical improvement. Can we maintain a pure mind if our body is not also pure? If we neglect physical goodness, it will eventually impact our sadhana and seva. Exercise is a natural medicine for the body and mind. Why wait for the new year, an unfavorable health report from your doctor, or a life-threatening event? When we exercise, we release hormones that promote positive feelings that keep us motivated and happy. They are Dopamine, Oxytocin, Serotonin, and Endorphins (D.O.S.E). Dopamine is our reward center, which helps us feel good when we do something pleasurable, so we should choose activities we enjoy and connect them to a higher purpose (for God’s pleasure). Oxytocin produces feelings of love and can positively affect our interactions with others. Serotonin is mainly known for sleep and mood regulation. Endorphins help to reduce pain in the body. We know working out is good for us, but we have difficulty doing it because we may lack energy, time, or courage. If we are truly trying to bring ourselves closer to God and we are sincere about working for his pleasure, then the task brings us in line with our spiritual goals. Imagine God is with us and watching us. Will we continue to make excuses?

Where Do We Start?

Numerous exercises can be done anywhere, anytime, with minimal investment or expertise. Several of them will feature in future articles of this blog, including HIIT, Yoga, and Strength Training. Some other popular routines are Zumba, Wall Pilates, and Rucking. Whether we incorporate various things or enjoy one specific exercise, we should choose something dynamic enough to keep us interested and motivated. YouTube is a great way to try something and see if it is right for you before investing in equipment or a monthly subscription. If you live in the DFW Metroplex near Radha Krishna Temple, visit Prem Yoga for daily in-person classes. They include asana, pranayama, meditation, and workshops with certified yoga instructors in a program developed by Swami Mukundananda. Daily online classes are also available.

Personal Perspective

Some of us are more inclined to engage in physical activity. It usually begins in childhood. My parents sought to give an outlet to a child with high energy, and it paid off. The result has been a lifelong practice of physical fitness. It is a gift that continues to give, and we can learn this important skill through practice and share it with our family and friends, even if it was not a part of our upbringing. The first step starts with us. Like many things in life, it is never too late to start or learn. If we think of exercise as part of our daily sadhana and seva to God and Guru, we will develop a mindset of commitment, and the excuses will subside. “Don’t make excuses. Make it a commitment. As somebody said – when you are interested in something, you do it when you like. When you are committed to something, you do it whether you like it or not.” - Swami Mukundananda

Scriptural Inspiration

Charak Samhitā states: śharīra mādhyaṁ khalu dharma sādhanam [v11] “The body is the vehicle for engaging in religious activity.” If the body becomes unwell, then spiritual pursuits get impeded too. The Ramayan states: tanu binu bhajana veda nahiṅ varanā [v12] “The Vedas do not recommend that we ignore the body while engaging in spirituality.”


Mukundananda, Swami. Golden Rules for Living Your Best Life. 1st ed., Rupa, 2022.