Shaolin Monks are meditation masters, and they believe almost anything can be done with the human body with the right amount of focus and patience. As evidenced by these photos of monks from the Shaolin Monastery, they have the power to contort their bodies in unusual poses and display remarkable feats of strength that would likely have the average person writhing in pain and reaching for a phone to call the chiropractor. The monastery is located in the province of Henan, and was built in the 20th year of the Taihe era of the Northern Wei Dynasty — around 495 A.D. if your Wei Dynasty history is a little rusty.
While the positioning of their movements might seem like they’re just aiming for the most uncomfortable pose possible, they’re actually are based on the medical knowledge of ancient China and conform the belief that what their bodies can endure is parallel with the strength of their souls and minds.
Eat your heart out, Cirque du Soleil.