Taking care of the body, keeping it fit and clean is an essential part of any spiritual discipline. We can’t experience the Divine in us without the support of the physical body. Modern self-help manuals suggest that having a healthy morning routine, with a focus on fitness and personal hygiene, can aid us in worldly success. Even Lord Krishna, who was beyond his physique, cared for himself and lived a disciplined life. Srimad Bhagavatam (Canto 10.70) gives a detailed description of his morning routine.
The Lord would rise at brāhma-muhūrta, the Divine period beginning one hour and 36 minutes before sunrise, and ending 48 minutes before sunrise. After clearing his head by meditating, he would finish his morning ablutions, and dress himself up in necessary clothing. He would then perform the Vedic ritual of Sandhya Vandana. In ancient times, everyone, irrespective of their community or gender, performed this ritual. Sandhya Vandana, or Salutations to the Sun, includes Pranayama or breathing exercises, and mantras honoring the Sun. The yogic postures of Surya Namaskar accompany it.
Following those healthy rituals, Lord Krishna would offer obeisances to everything in this creation, give oblations to the sacred fire, and silently chant the Gayatri Mantra. Later, he would adorn his body with lotions, kingly attire, ornaments, and flower garlands. When done caring for himself, the Lord would go around his palace to greet everyone, including his wives. After satisfying everyone with generous gifts and food articles, he would take some for himself (possibly the food as breakfast). Finally, the Divine Lord Krishna would set off on his chariot towards the royal assembly. In that gathering of distinguished men, he would glow and standout!
Besides, Lord Krishna was a warrior who fought the bear-like Jambavan for 27–28 days (as per Bhagavata Purana) or 21 days (as per Vishnu Purana). In that war, Jambavan was the first to get tired. Such a feat demands immense physical robustness. So, it’s evident that the Lord hit some archaic form of the gym!
While going to the gym can save you time, not everyone is as motivated towards that. If you belong to that category, like me, in addition to Surya Namaskar, you can resort to the least complicated workout method. One of the oldest forms of sustaining fitness, walking was a way of life in Sanatana Dharma. Sage Adi Shankaracharya would be the most excellent example of the same. In his short lifespan of 32 years (he dropped his body at will), above and beyond reviving the scriptures and writing 114+ compositions, he also found time to hike across the entire Indian sub-continent. A quote attributed to the sage goes:
Knowing that I am different from the body, I need not neglect the body. It is the temple that houses the Pure Self within.
Walking just 30 mins per day can put a stop to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. It can strengthen your muscles, help you build balance and coordination, and even enhance your mood. You can maintain your weight by walking or add in some dietary regulations to shed a few pounds. Many fitness experts recommend that, depending on your body type, walking 10,000 steps each day can help you maintain or even lose some weight. The farther and faster you walk, the more the benefits.
If you wish to make your workout a bit more intense, then you can try interval walking. If you don’t have any chronic health condition, interval walking can provide considerably higher benefits as against a steady-paced walk. For starters, here’s a sample interval walking workout plan (30 mins):
- 5 Mins: Relaxed Pace for Warm-Up
- 4 Rounds of Interval Walking as below:
- Step 1: 2 mins at Normal Pace
- Step 2: 2 mins at Fast Pace
- Step 3: 1 min at Super Fast Pace
- 5 Mins: Relaxed Pace for Cool-Down
In the above schedule, Normal Pace would be the one in which you can hold a conversation. In Fast Pace, you can talk but with heavy panting. Super Fast Pace should feel challenging like you’ve pumped it out. With time, you can increase the number of interval walking rounds. Alternatively, you can prolong the duration of the interval-steps as it suits your physique.
Getting back in shape is as simple as that. Walk your way to health, and take that first step today. And, if you still aren’t sold, I lost 30 lbs (13.6 kg) of stubborn weight purely by walking and regulating my diet!