3.21 – Through samyama on the physical body, one can suspend its power to be seen by severing its reflection of light to another’s eyes. In this way, one becomes invisible.

कायरूपसंयमात् तत्ग्राह्यशक्तिस्तम्भे चक्षुः प्रकाशासंप्रयोगेऽन्तर्धानम् ॥२१॥

kaya rupa samyama tat grahya shakti tat stambhe chaksuh prakasha asamprayoga antardhanam

  • kaya – the body
  • rupa – appearance; form
  • samyama – the perfect integration of consciousness; the uniting of dharana, dhyana, and samadhi
  • tat – that
  • grahya – to be seen; to be observed; to be received
  • shakti – power; energy
  • tat – that
  • stambhe – restraining; stopping
  • chaksuh – view; sight; eyes
  • prakasha – luminosity; light; shining
  • asamprayoga – non-contact with; disconnection
  • antardhanam – invisibility; to disappear

3.22 – This also explains the power to become inaudible, or imperceptible to the other senses.

एतेन शब्दाद्यन्तर्धानमुक्तम्॥३.२२॥

etena shabdadi antardhanam uktam

  • etena – by this
  • shabdadi – having the quality of sound
  • antardhanam – invisibility; to disappear
  • uktam – spoken; indicated; explained

Commentary on Sutras 3.21 and 3.22:

There have been many stories about great yogis with supernatural abilities. And these sutras may point to how we can acquire those powers through deep samyama practice. It’s easy to dismiss these as myths, but many of us have had glimpses of the mysterious. We’ve encountered something that didn’t fit within the mechanistic framework we’ve been conditioned to accept as real.

On the other hand, there is no reason we should blindly accept the miraculous. The path of yoga does not require faith in such things. And there’s another way to read these sutras that’s more applicable for most of us.

That is, by holding our attention and awareness within rather than projecting it outward, we can go unnoticed by others. It’s helpful to be inconspicuous for periods of time. Until we’ve mastered our senses, we need stretches of solitude in order to go deeper. But most of us don’t live as cloistered monks. Nor would that help our spiritual growth.

By remaining in inner solitude, we can walk through crowds without drawing attention. And we can continue our inner work without being distracted by worldly drama.