A divine essence is essential to many religious and cultural practices, and has been personified as man, woman, animal, mixed-gender, androgynous, half human/half animal, without form, as elements of nature. One term for the embodiment of this divine force is deity…such as Shiva, Buddha, Zeus & Aphrodite, Apistotoke of Blackfoot Native American mythology, Yum Kaax of Mayan mythology, God, and nature spirits including nymphs.
It’s commonly believed that deities have powers greater than those of ordinary humans. Hanuman, for instance, a deity popular in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism, is a monkey god said to posses extraordinary strength and devotion. As told in the epic tale the Ramayana, Hanuman’s devotion to Lord Rama led him to lift and carry an entire Himalayan mountain across India so that Rama’s brother could be healed by the medicinal herbs it contained.
These super-human powers associated with deities are comparable to the super-powers, orsiddhis, Patanjali mentions in chapter three of The Yoga Sutras. In this foundational text of classical modern yoga, Patanjali suggests that with dedicated practice of yoga and meditation, one is capable of achieving various powers including telepathy, clairvoyance, and psychokinesis. In yoga philosophy, it’s understood that these siddhis are not magical but rather natural capacities all humans have the possibility of accessing, but most of the time we’re just too distracted to tap into them.
Consider that the images and myths associated with deities can be understood as mirrors for our own greatness, reminders what we are capable of achieving when we turn our awareness to the divine force —the siddhis — that reside within each one of us.
In the spirit of exploring the ancient history of siddhis, consider asking yourself:
-With focus and commitment to practice, what “super-power” am I capable of activating within myself?
-What would this image reflecting back to me look like?
Enjoy your practice!
chattra photo: Deity wall art, market, Jaipur, Rajasthan, India
Jillian is a yogini based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She leads weekly public yoga classes for adults and specializes in yoga for kids and families. Her studies have led her to complete trainings at YogaWorks, Karma Kids and Yoga Playgrounds. Jillian feels blessed to practice and teach yoga and is particularly passionate about empowering her students with tools to navigate the modern world with ease.