Exercise and sadhana (spiritual practice)


According to yogic principles, is sadhana (spiritual practices) more effective before or after daily exercise (jogging, for example)?

—Kristen, United States


Where do you want your sadhana to take you? If you want to go breathless, deep in the inner stillness — certainly a goal that’s high on the list of “yogic principles” — then coming to meditation, or even to pranayama or yoga postures, straight from jogging (with an elevated heart rate) doesn’t seem the best route.

Yes, I can imagine sluggish mornings when you need something to get you going (or else you’ll fall asleep in meditation), but the energization exercises of Paramhansa Yogananda, if done properly, will be more than enough for that task.

I suggest sadhana first, then a bit of mundane activity (such as walking, or light chores, etc.), then the physical workout. If that simply isn’t possible (e.g., your morning jogging buddy needs to start very early; or you go to the gym after work, then come home for an evening meditation before dinner), then insert some transition time between the two activities, so you won’t be swimming upstream when you sit to meditate.

Physical fitness is important, say the yogis, but God is the highest priority.