Since the launch of the internet paired with the modern-day smart phone, global society experiences multi-tasking and constant distractions at an exponential rate relative to our parents, grandparents and ancestors.
Think about it. Most of us are accessible by phone, text, email and social media on at least one platform, whether for business or personal. And don’t forget snail-mail. After the COVID-19 Pandemic, we implemented Zoom into our global culture. Last, the launch of automated check-ins and self-check-outs have become common place within the last 5-7 years.
Yes, life is just more complicated and autonomous than ever. But this blog is written by a 53-year-old Empty Nester. My kids may not agree with my sentiment regarding complicated. They may use the word efficient.
Of course, humanity’s need for mind/body connection existed well before the internet and smart phone. It must be the case that both personal and cultural suffering is part of every human life experience, regardless of when you live. If it were not, we would never learn, reflect and gain awareness of betterment for evolution to transpire.
On that note, we get back to yoga. Why is yoga so popular NOW in Western culture? Yoga dates to 2700BC as one of the oldest sciences to promote mind/body alchemy in the world. Until the late 2000s, Yoga was most popular in India (where it originated) and most Eastern societies. In the past 10 years, Yoga is now a familiar part of all Western life. WHY the shift?
It is my belief that the answer goes deeper than our reliance on technology. In the United States, about 20% of our population experienced some form of mental illness within the last 10 years. The increase is due to the rise in social media, the COVID-19 pandemic and societal trends that have resulted in smaller family units and less community involvement.
When we practice yoga asana, we are physically forced to hold the mind steady and notice what comes up. In these moments, the goal is to achieve the most accessible version of the posture without distraction from the outside world – to go inward. With a disciplined yoga practice, we notice the ability to go deeper and hold postures longer. This progression is invaluable both on and off the mat, as we are encouraged to bring our patience and inner world to the forefront of our daily lives. How do we do this?
Not only does yoga offer us phenomenal body tone through stretching, strengthening and balance work of the muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons; it is proven to access the deeper layers, perhaps the sub or unconscious mind, during the final resting pose called Savasana. Savasana translates to corpse pose, earning its name from stillness. During this pose, we rely on an active mind while completely relaxing the body. This practice is also called meditation. Meditation is accessible without yoga asana too, but yoga is one means to land in a meditative mindset.
What is the goal of Savasana or meditation? It is the same goal as active imagination, visualization and dream work. All four of these modalities give us connection to our inner thought, or what Jungian Psychology calls the gateway to both the Personal and Collective Unconscious mind. These are commonly referred to as the voices in our head, the unspoken narrative intended only for us (good, bad or ugly). The creative dreams of possibilities and desires; the symbols that lead us outside of our personal, understood frame of reference and into the world of the Collective Unconscious. The Collective Unconscious might show itself with visions of animals or odd-looking creatures. These are our connection to the universe, or Carl Jung would say, to our ancestors. It can present using mythology, bodies of water, physical structures, familiar faces delivering a message; the symbols are endless. This language is solely symbolic and requires interpretation by a Jungian trained Analyst or Coach, however, it’s a language onto itself – and a fascinating one at that.
It is said that Savasana is the most important part of your yoga practice. It offers rest for the body while the mind is free to do as it pleases, with no cultural, societal or family norm boundaries. Savasana is your mental playground culminating memories with new insights. The imagery may present to enlighten, give a message of joy or gratitude, invoke feelings of sadness or disturb you, but one thing is for sure, all visions come to make you whole and healthy. The messaging is always intended to bring the unconscious into conscious awareness, bringing you knowledge to contemplate. When viewed in this light, it is easy to understand why Savasana is the most important part of your yoga practice.
Wishing you lots of yoga and juicy meditations to balance body with mind.
By Wendy Tiller, MA
Teacher Training Graduate at The Collective
Mindset Life Coach, Yoga & Reiki