Can Yoga Give You Superpowers?

Our friends at Bookish took a look at the hard science behind four supposed yogic superpowers.

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Yoga diehards have long claimed that the practice can allay physical ailments, such as back pain and headaches, as well as improve mood and mental agility.

But these perks may not represent the full reach of yoga's power, says parapsychology researcher Dean Radin in his new book, Supernormal: Science, Yoga and the Evidence for Extraordinary Psychic Abilities.

Before its recent popularization as an alternative physical and mental discipline, Radin writes, "The essential goal of yoga was to achieve states of insight that revealed the true nature of Reality." This rarefied plane of consciousness offers many spiritual rewards, some of which we're familiar with--deep focus, empathy, enlightenment--and some of which sound more like the paranormal weaponry of the X-Men.

Radin's investigation into the supernormal potential of yoga begins with a look at ancient yogic writings called the "Yoga Sutras," which date back as far as the second century B.C. and which "provide a taxonomy of supernormal mental powers"—called siddhis—"and a means of obtaining them."

He then turns to the cutting-edge field of paranormal science and parapsychology, where researchers test the validity of these ancient claims through a range of studies and experiments.

Our friends at Bookish took a look at the hard science behind four yogic superpowers Radin identifies:


The "Yoga Sutras" name 25 siddhis, one of which is "knowledge of the meaning of sounds produced by all beings," or, what Radin refers to as "clairaudience." Read more >>


According to the "Yoga Sutras," performing samyama on the throat enables some yogis to liberate themselves from the need to eat and drink, a phenomenon known in Catholicism as "inedia" and, more generally, as "breatharianism." Read more >>


Just as a samyama focused on the ear can engender clairaudience, a samyama focused on another person's mind—as in the case of trying to send a message to another person's mind—can engender telepathy, according to the "Yoga Sutras." Read more >>


According to Radin, "some of the siddhis in the 'Yoga Sutras' are described as interactions between mind and matter." Can focused, channeled affection measurably influence the physical body of another person? Read more >>