Mythically, the yogis cultivate siddhis, or superhuman powers. Some have the capacity to make themselves very small, finer than a grain of silt and transportable on the gentlest breeze of breath. Others have a siddhi of becoming massive, large enough to leap over oceans and others, still, boundless, merging into the infinite by dissolving the boundary of their skin. The human pursuit of life includes dying, an undoing of the definition of embodiment and corporeal existence, an opportunity to merge with the Universe by losing the individual identity of form. In being born, we all receive the chance to make disappearance and dying a magic power. The yoga, then, becomes our actions while embodied, refining the acts of everyday. The practice is to hone natural talents into potent energy, and then into magic superpowers. A siddhi is a superpower used in generous gesture, for the benefit of more than one. The yogi who can create a whole universe offers potential for life and growth to many. The yogi who can remain in deep peace through the fluctuating and ever-changing state of the world, sets an example of calm and radiates waves of peace to all they encounter. Every little gift, when applied in right proportion, is a superpower.
For most of us, asana is not our superpower. Asana is challenging, bringing our bodies and minds to the edge of comfort and capacity. In the practice lie windows into where our siddhis may rest, awaiting our attention and loving focus. Our work now is to determine what we have to offer and much of the practice of finding and refining our siddhis calls on our capacity to distinguish between tendencies and gifs. Just because back-bending is easy and freeing for one person does not mean that excessive spinal extension is the right form to take in every situation. This is a particular tendency of mine, so I speak from experience in saying that learning to reign in my body’s habit of overtly arching my back, has served. In cultivating deeper strength along the lower spine, my heart has become more full. In learning boundaries of devotion and service to leave room for a practice of tending my own needs first, my heart has become more courageous. In learning to bend in the other direction and reach forward to touch the earth rather than “bending over backwards”, for everything and everyone, (I see how literal and clear this is now…), my heart has become more soft. We all get a go at making loving our siddhi, and for karma yogis and bhakti yogis, this is the ultimate. To know what your siddhis are is to see clearly into the heart of oneself, svadhyaya. To do something about it is to make the world a better place, just by being you. It is the fantastic array of all of our gifts that make the world go ‘round. Ribs down and sternum lifts. Yum.