Wednesday, 12 January 2011

What tarot card best represents yoga?

Inspired by one of Donnaleigh Delarose's recent tweets, I started thinking about which tarot card would best represent yoga.  The image that Donnaleigh had linked to was this.  I saw it as symbolizing the 4 of Swords because of that card's idea of taking a mental break, or denoting a retreat from the world.  Still, it got me thinking, and after my morning practice my mind moved in different directions.  The 4 of Swords illustrates well the meditative side of yoga, but what of the physical practice?

Several writers and deck creators have associated the Hanged Man (under various names and guises) with yoga. Notable amongst these is the beautiful "Tree" image from the Gaian Tarot.  I think this association is due to the Hanged Man depicting getting a different perspective on things (which you certainly do when you see the world upside down, for instance).  Also, the Hanged Man is like a 4 of Swords writ large - a time out from the everyday.

Another possible candidate would be the World, sometimes called the World Dancer.  Expressing completion and perfection, I see it perhaps being better suited to enlightenment, rather than the more mundane day-to-day practice of yoga.

In fact, a case could probably be made for many different tarot cards to represent aspects of yoga.  The Page of Pentacles, for example, has often come up for me with regard to yoga because of it's association with learning, physicality and spirituality (based on Rachel Pollack's take on Pentacles embodying the spiritual as expressed through the physical).  The Star exemplifies the flow of life, prana and breath, and the generosity and hope that can be found in practising yoga. 

However, if I were to choose a single card that for me best defines all that is yoga, my choice goes to Temperance.  This card, although not beloved by all, does epitomize a balancing of opposing or differing forces.  This fits very well with yoga: a balancing of breathing in and breathing out; of lifting up and sinking down; of reaching out and focusing in; of movement and stillness; of strength and flexibility; of thought (which pose comes next?) and meditative clarity; of discipline and delight.  And when we take part in this balancing flow, we lift ourselves up on the wings of breath and transform ourselves, like the rainbow in the Gaian Tarot image of Temperance.

I'd love to hear what cards other people associate with tarot...

Images from the Gaian Tarot by Joanna Powell Colbert.

1 comment:

  1. They are gorgeous! I collect Tarot cards and would love to add them to my collection. Please keep us posted as to when they'll be put out! tarot reading