Why Fitness is a Spiritual Practice

Here are the reasons your regular fitness routine can be considered a spiritual practice.

Clark Hamilton Depue is a Wanderlust presenter. Engage, learn, and connect with luminaries like him at a Wanderlust event! For more information, click here


“The days of exercising for vain and shallow reasons are over. Higher consciousness and depth of heart await.”

Whether consciously or not, more souls are turning to fitness as a spiritual practice, making it an important part of their lives and a means to a higher vibration. Turns out fitness was already a spiritual practice to begin with—below is a list of reasons why. Understanding this can help you to validate your fitness plan as a spiritual practice, which may make you more likely to keep up with it. Seeing everyday activities as such can help continue to change the way we see our lives, bringing more depth and meaning to all areas. Viva la spiritual fitness revolution!

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You use it for greater happiness and fulfillment. More important than any physical results, you engage in your fitness practice because it helps you to be happy and feel alive, because it helps elevate your state of being, because you know that the better you feel physically, the better your spiritual life and sense of well-being. You are grounded in your practice. As a result of your physical practice, you make other healthy decisions. Your fitness is part of the foundation of your healthy lifestyle, the practice of living a healthy life.

You use your workouts as a time to reflect. These are precious moments you spend with yourself and your inner world. You think about things. You work out problems. You process. You tune in to where you are in your heart and mind. In fact, self-reflection is likely what led to your physical practice in the first place.

You face yourself and grow in more ways than physical. You acknowledge changes you want to make. You grow as a whole being. You overcome aspects of yourself and your inner world. Engaging in your physical practice (and the physical exertion itself) provides the mirror. Fears, doubts, and other inner barriers rise to the surface, mirroring those that come up in your life. Your practice mirrors the way you engage your life and life’s challenges.

You test your will. You exercise your intention and strengthen your resolve. Not only do you make it to your workouts, but each workout is a test of your will. You come up against the physical sensations and decide whether to push through or shy away. You come up against something that you’re not sure you can do, and yet you find it within yourself. Part of you wants slow down or quit, but you keep going. Your strength of will overrides.

Your heart is engaged. Your heart is engaged through the challenge. Your heart is found in continuing despite adversity, in giving your workouts all you have to give, and in overcoming the physical limitations of the body. You allow yourself to be vulnerable in your level of fitness, humbled by the physical exertion.

You expand your comfort zone. You challenge yourself and push your limits. You expand your physical and mental thresholds. You are a conqueror in your practice, conquering tasks, goals, new personal records, and inner barriers. Stepping into any new fitness adventure can be intimidating, but you do so anyway, growing in courage and your ability to handle whatever life throws at you.

You change your karma. Your life changes as a result of your actions. It changes as a result of your decision to be physically active, to move and take care of your body. Your physical life plays a big role in the karma of your life, all the causes and effects, and taking care of your body helps you reach a higher state of existence.

You release emotion and energy. The physical release serves as a mental and emotional release. You release inner pressure. You destress. The workout becomes a metaphor and/or prayer for whatever is going on in your life. You get your energy moving and activate energy centers, creating a better flow of energy and vitality in your life.

You take a moment a breathe. You focus on and control your breathing, using it to help you execute. You breathe strength and intention. As an active physical meditation, you use your breath to help you relax under pressure, recover during intense exertion, or to help you gather strength for lifts and movements.

Your mind quiets down, and you are present. You find a greater presence within yourself. You are no longer worrying about the future or thinking about problems, your to-do list, or the overwhelm of life. Because of the demands of what you are doing, you are fully present, focused on the task at hand.

You have mental or emotional breakthroughs. You surprise yourself with what you’re capable of. You do things that you previously could not do. You push yourself further than before, beyond preconceived limits, and you see yourself in a new light.

clarkGrowing up as an athlete, author Clark Hamilton Depue developed a passion for playing, competing, and moving his body. As a competitive junior tennis player, he experienced his greatest moments on the court when he improved his inner game first. He started practicing little meditative techniques in his daily workouts to help open his heart and cultivate a feeling of strength and higher energy. After tennis, he became a golf professional, teaching thousands of students before dedicating five years to a psychology-based personal development training. He is currently a CrossFit athlete and coach in Dallas, Texas, where he lives with his dogs, Allie and Stella. He spent the last three years writing and producing his first book, Meditative Fitness: The Art and Practice of the Workout. You can find him on meditativefitness.com, @MeditativeFitness on Instagram, or @MeditativeFit on Twitter.