Life on the spiritual path, though blessedly filled with growing inner freedom and fulfillment, is not always an easy road to navigate. As we give ourselves more completely to living for God, more and more is asked of us. With this lifestyle of selfless service we often give a low priority to maintaining our health and can easily fall into patterns of survival, doing the minimum to keep ourselves going.

When things prove to be too much or our karma rears its head, we fall into sickness and disease. How much do we blame our karma, and how much do we attribute to our lifestyle and health?

Is it possible to be a devotee on this spiritual path and maintain excellent health? I do certainly hope so.

Yogananda cautions us not to become too zealous in any health pursuit lest we lose our focus on devotion and finding God. This of course must be understood, for fanaticism to health only leads to attachment and missing the point.

But yet I wonder how many of us hide behind that cautionary statement and our commitment to service in order to avoid looking at our own health and lifestyles.

For my wife and I there have been way too many wake up calls of cancer in our circle of friends. We decided to take a look at our lives and our health.

On December 26, 2011, my wife and I embarked on our first juice fast which lasted 11 days for me, and a full three weeks for Madhavi. The benefits, both physical and spiritual, were tremendous. We then spent the year trying to adhere as much as possible to Yogananda’s dietary prescriptions.

This past year has been a year of discovery, hope, and health for our family, with a growing sense of attunement and dedication to God.

We have not been sick. Not even a sniffle.
We have never had the flu.
We have increased our work load, meditated more, and slept less.
Caitlin’s teeth seem to be growing in perfectly straight, in contrast to how ours did, requiring braces.

This is not the place to lecture about the benefits of one particular way of eating, for everyone has a unique bio-individuality with different requirements. Yogananda also counsels the use of “proper-eatarianism” rather than subscribing to any one particular diet fad to help keep the body fit for self-realization.

As we ascend further into Dwapara Yuga, we also have the opportunity to improve our health through new (old!) discoveries of the simple plant based diet, verses accepting the SAD (Standard American Diet), the cause of the highest incidence of diabetes, cancer, and obesity.

I know that getting on any high-horse is the worst thing that I could do for my attunement, but how do I simply stand by and watch as friends and family are afflicted by illness that I believe could be lessened or completely averted through lifestyle and dietary adjustments? Perhaps I am simply too attached to these people.

As Kalidas wrote so beautifully in his last post:

How true it is that we cannot persuade others to go in a direction we would like by pushing them from behind. We can only lead by example, by first reforming ourselves and inspiring them to follow.

I believe that it is possible to be devoted to serving God and to live a vibrant life lasting into our later years. For the amount of work that Yogananda has given us, how can we afford not to live in the most vital way possible?

If you feel inclined to learn more, I invite you to read my wife’s blogs on her health coaching website. It truly has been an educational year for us, and we’d love to share what we’ve learned.


  1. thank you so much David. As the wife of a good ol southern guy, and kids that have taken up with him rather than my inclinations to eat more veggies and whole grains, i have been out voted and end up eating meat and lots of fried foods.. i seem oddball enough by being a meditator to all around me. Oh if they only knew my secret love!! and if i could only be brave or creative enough, to find a way to become fit for Master’s work in a whole way.. what i yearn for seems so far away. Maybe it will come..i pray. thank you again.

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    I feel like more and more souls on the path are realizing the great spiritual benefit of an energetic and properly maintained vehicle to seek God through. It’s inspiring to see such grounded and practical examples of vibrant health in you both. Thanks for being here with us.

  3. Thank you for writing on that particular issue. Have thought about the same topic for a few years now. You’re right – matter of balance between practicing/living Master’s teachings & keeping the physical body healthy (by diet & good amount of physical activity). Suppose the karma part is what it is – can only do the best we can on our end of things…rest is Him.

    There’s definitely potential for attachment when it comes to diet & exercise (tricky slippery slope for sure). What often comes to mind for me are some of Master’s & Swami’s words to offer it all up to Him (it’s all His dream – so He ‘experiences’ our healthy choices too). Plus God/Guru wants us to take care of our *vehicles* so we can serve longer.

    Thank you again.

  4. Whenever I felt conscious that I was not taking proper food, I would be a little upset about it. I always directed my doubt and my love to God and Guru, and sooner or later He returns that Love to me. I imagine that Love to neutralize every part of that wrong food that I had taken, and feel satisfied., and even more joyous on seeing a photo of Master smiling.

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