The Incredible Yogi

Swami Yogatirthananda Saraswati, Switzerland

Mr Incredible is the latest addition to cinema supermen. He distinguishes himself from others thanks to the family, his wife and three children, who are also incredible, each one in a different way. Their extraordinary talents are an inspiration to the yogi aspirant.

Mr Incredible is very, very strong; lifting a car single–handedly up in the air is nothing to him. The future yogi though does not seek muscles and biceps, he wants mental strength. The strength of concentration, of a one-pointed focused mind is the aim. Mr Incredible does regular workouts in order to stay strong and fit. Concentration too requires constant practice or else its power diminishes. Yoga offers a multitude of methods to develop and maintain concentration throughout the day. Breath awareness, repetition of mantra or chanting, likhit japa and giving full attention to one’s activity are just a few examples of how to continually strengthen one-pointedness.

Mrs Incredible is the elastic mum. She is able to stretch her legs and arms and her whole body to any length and twist it to any shape, even a boat or parachute if necessary. The yogi is flexible in his ability to adapt and create. Karma yoga is the challenge, the playground or battlefield, for the yogic mind to stretch and twist in any direction to meet the demands of each situation creatively. Mrs Incredible uses her gift for the family and others, involving herself without selfish motives.

The third family member is the teenage daughter. Typically awkward, irritable and ill at ease, she hides behind a curtain of long black hair until the day the family needs her special power. She can produce an impenetrable blue bubble, the perfect protective shield for herself and those she wants to shelter. The yogic aspirant has his own tools to ward off any imagined or real danger from the outside world, or the threat from within – dissipation and lack of discipline. He protects himself with the shield of mantra, vigilance and faith in life, guru, God, in his own innate goodness and strength. Once he knows how to use these tools, he may extend the shield to protect others.

Junior Incredible or Dash is fast. He outruns aeroplanes and all the bullets aimed at him. His incredible power is speed. For a yogi, speed translates into clarity of mind, the ability to outwit and outrun the bullets of thoughts, feelings and potential reactions that might trouble the still waters of the mind. Speed becomes right decision, right action and harmony in life. Its roots are awareness and self-knowledge, the understanding of what makes the yogi jump, run or fight, cry or laugh.

The youngest family member, Baby Incredible, possesses the power of transformation. In a wink, the angelic child turns into a green monster or the bright red devil himself. Yet before he can defy and transcend the laws of nature, the yogi aspirant will have to deal with his own nature first. He will have to bring his hidden potential to light, learn to distinguish between what is real and what just appears to be so, and come to know the unity in God’s created diversity.

The comparison between the Incredibles and the yogi aspirant might be anything from obvious to far-fetched. One thing though they do have in common. The Incredibles live for the well-being of others. With their special powers they help, protect and save – cats from tree tops, residents from burning houses and the community from war and destruction. In the same way, the yogi offers his mental and physical powers for the well-being of those near and far. The little family is his one-pointed, creative, invulnerable, alert and evolving mind, which he uses so that the hands may dedicate their action and the heart its feeling to those in need. For his real family is the world. By making it a better place, adding to the happiness of its people, the aspirant will become a truly incredible yogi.