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    You’d never know it from the face of popular yoga. But there are some incredible superpowers yoga can give you. These have nothing to do with a perfect handstand or scorpion pose.

    Beyond the acrobatic spectacle of yoga today are 4 things you never knew yoga could do for you. I like to think of these as Yoga Superpowers.

    The unknown superpowers yoga can give you:
    Focus. Core inner strength. Balance. Joy.

    Forget the myth of uber-flexibility and moves that look like you are flying in space. Though those can be cool, they aren’t actually the most profound boons of yoga. This is a deep practice.

    The cultivation of these superpowers takes time, commitment and practice. But be sure- if you practice, even a little bit – powers such as these will continue to develop.

    “The success of Yoga does not lie in the ability to perform postures but in how it positively changes the way we live our life and our relationships.”
    From author of Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda.

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    1. Focus. (Drishti)
    One of yoga’s lesser known superpowers is Focus. Yoga gives great things to focus on as well as tools for how to cultivate focus. The sanskrit term for a focused gaze isdrishti.

    When I came to yoga my drishti was on the next high. What could make me feel good from the outside? The next party, the next relationship conquest.

    I wanted people to fall in love with me so bad so I could prove to my unbelieving self that I was lovable. I was good at this game. It provided a captivating trap. My drishti focus was outward. Untrained. Wild and all over the place.

    One fine saturday morning I peeled myself out of bed after clubbing all night and rolled into a meditation sit. I Sat. Hung over. Exhausted. Energy all over the place.
    But I sat. And I finally stopped running.

    All of a sudden, my drishti was on what was right inside me. My thoughts. My feelings. My body sensations. I sat and sat. And to be honest, I napped. And then sat some more.
    This was the beginning of the yogic of training my focus.

    I stopped spreading my energy around so wantonly. Started harnessing it in practice. I was able to see and release a lot of the desires that were driving my actions. I started to feel peace. Joy.
    This was about 15 years ago. I still work on harnessing my focus every day.

    In a yoga pose, drishti is as simple as where we place our gaze. In life, it’s where we place our energy. Watch it and watch your superpowers of focus improve.

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    2 True core strength. (Aparigraha)
    I’m not talking about washboard abs, flat stomachs and less back problems. Though there’s those benefits too that can come.

    I’m talking about strength of character and identity that comes from the core. Yoga gives us the ability to take power back. To not be as affected by what happens to us. The specific quality that cultivates this is the practice of aparigraha, or not grasping, one of the ethical codes of yoga.

    By practicing yoga we learn to harness and control the subtle energies, emotions and nuances of our own experience. So even if someone does something horrible, like steal a massive amount of money from us (which just happened to me recently) I can release my grasp on the money, as well as the grasp anger has on me, and still feel peace.

    This yoga superpower of aparigraha doesn’t make us into victims. I am still writing and fighting to getting the money back. But I am unattached. Whether I get it or not will not impact my inner state of happiness and peace.

    This power is like the stillness in a pond that ripples only on the surface with the events life throws at us. With practice, we remain fathomlessly still, harmonious and calm.

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    3. Balance. (Vinyasa)
    I used to fall down out of nowhere just walking down the street. Had bruises all over. I can now walk razors edge cliffs and trust my balance. But this isn’t the only kind of balance we are talking about.
    The deeper Yoga Superpower is the balance of knowing our foundation. Knowing where we are coming from and going.

    This dance of balance is true vinyasa. This is the kind of balance that occurs within self when we flow from a solid foundation and we are also in harmony with nature. So yoga practice cultivates literal balance but also figurative balance of living the kind of lifestyle we want and connects us to what brings us happiness, health and harmony. This yoga is a vinyasa of life.

    “Yoga is a balancing factor, a substratum across all of your life, so you do not get shifted in one direction or another. It gives you freshness, gives you light, recharges your batteries. You become a stable person. You realize what balance is, what sukhais, what contentment is, what joy is.” ~ Birjoo Mehta

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    4. Joy (ahimsa)
    A major yoga superpower is the cultivation of joy in all circumstances. A deep, profound and abiding sense of life satisfaction. The beauty of this is that when our own load is light, we can lighten others’ load as well.

    As T.K.V. Desikachar says: “Healthy plants and trees yield abundant flowers and fruits. Similarly, from a healthy person, smiles and happiness shine forth like the rays of the sun.”

    This natural flow of compassion and joy arises from the yogic practice ofahimsa, or kindness and non-harming. When we show up as a gift to others, as a light, as a compassionate ear to listen we practice ahimsa. To bear the suffering of the world in 1 being if only because it makes there load a bit lighter for that moment. The secret superpower is that we experience more and more happiness and joy the more we practice.

    Here we have these four Secret Superpowers of Yoga- Focus. Core strength. Balance. Joy.

    Are they as beautiful to you as a stunning instagram yoga pose? Perhaps in time they will be.

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    Remember, the cultivation of these superpowers takes time, commitment and practice. All we have to do is continue or begin. Keep practicing and powers such as these will continue to flower.
    There are more Secret Yoga Superpowers that I will share in future posts.

    If you are interested in developing your powers more, I work with individuals 1 on 1 in distance-learning custom curated yoga programs as well as in-person for Yoga Yoga Teacher Trainings.
    More at www.susannabarkataki.com

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    Susanna writes from the heart, applying yoga and mindfulness to social justice. Learn more at www.SusannaBarkataki.com