The full mind and body workout – courtesy of Ramadan! (Part 1)

Bismillah, was-salaatu was-salaamu ‘ala Muhummed (saw).

The blessed month is (nearly) here. Preparations are underway in most households to welcome this blessed, annual guest.  Some prepare mentally, some prepare spiritually, some prepare by stocking up on food – dare I say it, exotic food and drink – yet almost no-one prepares physically!

There are many blessed Shuyookh out there, may Allah (swt) preserve them, who have, and will continue to help us, me included, to grow spiritually. My article is about attaining and maintaining physical and mental health during what is undoubtedly going to be a tough Ramadan with its long days. However, I truly believe that Ramadan is the perfect time to exercise the mind by developing it to be in control of your hunger and tiredness and thereby gain a fitter body. 

Many people fail in what they want to achieve because their motivation is incorrectly aligned with what they want. For example, if I was to ask you what you want as a Ramadan gift, or simply what you would like to do, it is highly likely that you first response would be “I don’t know.”  This is the issue – we know what we don’t want; do we know as clearly what we do want?

So when we say to ourselves “I’m not going to feel hungry”, the neurology of the brain bypasses the ‘not’ and thinks ‘feel hungry’ – and so you do!  It would be much better if we prepared ourselves by saying and thinking to ourselves that ‘I’m going to be patient and strong today’. 

In much the same way, when we think about exercising during Ramadan, we think to ourselves “That’s going to be hard.” Even though we haven’t used the word ‘not’, the message our brain has received is ‘hard’ and so your motivation to exercise will be weak or non-existent. Imagine what it would be like if you said to yourself “I’m going to use Ramadan to become stronger spiritually by increasing my worship, stronger mentally by being in control of my thoughts and stronger physically by looking after my body which is a gift from Allah (swt).”  How does that sound to you? Can you imagine a picture of yourself after Ramadan absolutely glowing with noor and health? Do you feel the strength and increased vitality and energy?

The added benefit of thinking in this manner is that you are relating it back to the gifts that Allah (swt) has blessed you with and therefore it becomes part of your worship. Subhan-Allah! How Merciful is our Lord? 

Of course, we must also be wise – there is no point in exercising with the same intensity and routine as you might ‘normally’.  There are many things we can do to maintain an exercise ‘regime’ and here are a few tips:

  1. Plan your exercise (what time and amount) and be realistic – have in mind the positive intended outcome and list (write down) the benefits to yourself to make it more appealing to you. I suggest you plan your exercise just before ‘Asr – that way you will avoid tiring yourself early in the day, yet still be able to engage in worship between ‘Asr and Maghrib which is one of the best times of the day for making du’aa.  Even if your session is a short one, make it a focussed one.
  2. When you go to the Masjid, walk – especially for Isha and Taraweeh. It will help you to digest your food better and walking briskly is one of the best forms of regular exercise you can take anyway.
  3. Live, as far as possible, a ‘normal’ routine. Let’s use Ramadan as an excuse to do more not less, for when you do more, you gain more!  Yes, I know – if you eat more, you gain more…and that proves my point!
  4. Visualise yourself doing the worship and the exercise and make the image as vivid, engaging and life-like as possible. It is said that if the mind can imagine it and believe it, the body can achieve it!

Have an exerciseful Ramadan and remember me in your prayers.

Wal-hamdu lillah, was-salaatu was-salaamu ‘ala Muhummed (saw).

About the author

Abu Yusra’s mission in life is to live the words of the Hadith: “The best among you are those who bring benefit to others.”  He has an outstanding record of doing this through his unique brand of ‘Success Coaching’ to help you get to where you want to be, regardless of where you are now.