The Physical Models
On a completely different track we have the physical models, which tend to involve physical perfection or stylization. The old Theravada texts (for example, DN 30, MN 91) go to great lengths to list the thirty-two interesting physical qualities of the Buddha, such as having forty teeth and having arms so long that he could touch his knees without bending down. It is remarkable how bodily ideals change, as in our modern context that would make him look more to us like a dentally challenged Cro-Magnon than a spiritual superhero, but I digress.
Numerous pop culture sources make us associate interesting physical qualities or ideals with spirituality, particularly yoga magazines and martial arts movies. There is not much more to say about these models other than that they are amusing and completely inaccurate. We may imagine that awakening somehow involves impeccable physical health, or that awakening or insight practice may cure some illness or other adverse condition, but I wouldn’t bank on anything like this at all.
That said, my friends who regularly do practices like yoga and tai chi do tend to look good, and this only makes sense. However, this is not related to ultimate realizations except peripherally in that those practices involve mindfulness and if done well can lead to real insights. Does the reduction in cortisol levels that can happen through mature practice reduce some of our needless stress reactions to situations and improve our health in some way? Probably, though more data is needed. Is awakening on its own likely to give you forty teeth and freakishly long arms, or a yoga-butt for that matter? Obviously not.