“If you could be a superhero, which one would you be?”
That’s what the teacher asked on the first day of my yoga teacher training programme. Didn’t see that question coming.
It’s a great icebreaker, of course, and got us all laughing straight away. But over the next 3 years of the course, we realised that the superpower we’d said we wanted was being drawn out of us by yoga, and by this particular teacher.
Didn’t see that coming, either.
And that’s one of the amazing things about yoga: it helps us unveil our superpowers. We all have them but in the style of Diana Prince/Wonder Woman or Clark Kent/Superman, we sometimes keep them hidden away. They only get to see the light of day when a kind mentor encourages us to use them, or when we hit up against something challenging that brings out the best in us. Or we can take some control and responsibility, and go on our own heroine’s journey in search of them (that’s for another blog).
The thing is, some of these superpowers can look a bit ordinary to us. Maybe that’s because we underestimate our natural state or what we most enjoy doing. Your superpowers will probably be different from mine, but here are some of the ones that are often unearthed when we practice yoga and mindfulness regularly:
- Being able to sleep soundly in virtually any situation
- Staying calm in situations that seem deliberately designed to cause stress (think gloomy news about work, family, economy, environment)
- Having fewer coughs, colds and everyday illnesses
- Reducing back pain, warding off osteoporosis, bringing down high blood pressure, lowering cholesterol and blood sugar levels
- Managing or reversing anxiety and depression
- Knowing your deepest heart’s desire and having the energy and focus to achieve it
- … or being flexible enough to squeeze in to small spaces (or maybe that’s just cats called Boris)
See, that list looks fairly ordinary, but whose life wouldn’t be better with any of these possibilities becoming a reality?
Yoga and mindfulness aren’t cure-alls, but they are great at making life easier. And that’s just the base level. One of the promises of the traditional yoga texts is that when we become truly peaceful others around us respond. It becomes almost impossible for them to get angry in our presence. We can sense this in our everyday life: when we’re calmer, others pick up on it and respond more calmy, whether they’re people or animals.
World peace anyone? That’s surely the superpower any hero would be proud to have.
So, what superpower would you like to have? Have you uncovered any in your own practice of yoga and mindfulness? Please proudly claim your powers in the comments below 🙂
And if you’d like to find your superpowers, here are a few ways I can help you search for them.
Lucille - 02/01/2015
I concur. Having been involved in management and leadership development for a long time, I am of the view that yoga philisophy and practice is the most comprehensive system of self development. My studies of yoga and Mindfulness have impacted more powerfully and gut-wrenchly than my three academic degrees put together.
Jo - 02/01/2015
That’s a powerful endorsement of yoga and mindfulness, Lucille – thank you. It’s all the more powerful seeing the amazing self-development work you and your team facilitate at Chrysalis (http://chrysalisacademy.org.za). I’m grateful for you all sharing your superpowers!
Kim - 03/01/2015
I am a novice and fairly recent recruit to yoga. I work in a pressurised and stressful environment and the superpower yoga has given me is to slow my breathing down to centre my thinking and to focus. It really helps …whether i am trying to grapple with a work related issue or get a good nights sleep. My main reason for approaching yoga was physical ..i had no idea how beneficial the mental aspect could be.
Jo - 07/01/2015
Thanks for commenting from your own experience, Kim. It’s the place that real knowledge comes from! I agree with you: we don’t often acknowledge how interconnected the physical and mental aspects of ourselves are, and it’s only when we start positively influencing one that we get the benefits in the other. And even then we don’t always fully notice or appreciate them, so I’d suggest that mindful awareness is another superpower you’ve developed 🙂