Yoga is an expression of body movement, breathwork, meditation, and philosophy, and tarot cards. What? How do tarot cards and yoga work together? Yoga and tarot heal the body by intersecting in multiple realms. They both create a bridge between your subconscious and conscious mind, use mythology and archetypes to reveal life lessons, work with the elements, serve as a guide for the appropriate practice during certain times in life, and help us cultivate our intuition.
Tarot cards are a divination tool made up of 78 images and qualities, split into 22 major arcana cards representing karmic lessons and 56 minor arcana cards representing day to day choices. Interpreting tarot card layouts can give us awareness of our higher selves and the actions that may help in our evolving consciousness.
The mystical divination of reading tarot and the application of yoga philosophy have more in common than most would guess! Here are 5 ways yoga and tarot can help heal our bodies and hearts.
Yoga and Tarot bridging the Psyche
Yoga actually means "union." The basis of a yoga practice is finding peace between thinking, breathing, moving, and meditation. When the thinking mind, or what is called “manas” in yogic philosophy, begins to become still through meditation and/and or movement, awareness of our less overt memories, "buddhi", starts to awaken. These thoughts or experiences are often held in our subconscious, "chitta", and tools like meditation are useful to bring them into consciousness.
Tarot, like yoga, is a tool for accessing the parts of the psyche that connect us to universal truths and inner wisdom. Using intuition and quiet meditation to pull a tarot card when reflecting on a situation is like holding a mirror of your subconscious up to your face! The awareness of latent experiences gives us a glimpse into the universal turnings that may not be so apparent in our conscious life. As this part of our existence is spotlighted, there is an opportunity to tap into ways to address our connection to the world, each other, and ourselves.
Archetypes for Teaching
Many yoga poses have a rich story behind them, explaining a karmic or spiritual lesson through the use of mythology. Using people, nature, and animals, yoga and tarot can tell tales. For example, boat pose, or "navasana", represents part of the journey Sita, Rama, and his brother Lakshman went through to return to their kingdom:
As they were faced with crossing the Ganges, they were looking for a tirtha or shallow crossing. The trio came across a ferryman who offered them assistance in crossing for no payment. The ferryman related to Rama that it was his offer to those who carry all over the river of samsara (illusions).
How do tarot cards work as a spiritual lesson? Like yoga mythology and asana, each of the cards in a tarot deck holds an archetypal meaning. For instance, 'The Wheel of Fortune' card can signal a change in life position or situation, depending on karma. Pulling the 'Tower' card can mean there is wisdom in letting a way of being in the world be deconstructed. Seeing the 'Chariot' card can signify continuing on your path will bring success.
The minor arcana also include court cards that represent human qualities to foster as well as qualities to temper, such as the 'Queen of Cups' who represents nurture and emotion. Other examples are the 'King of Swords' who is cutting and decisive. Knowing the archetypal characteristics of a yoga pose and a tarot card serve as guides to move subtle energy.
Yoga and Tarot Express the Elements
In yoga the five elements of nature and the universe are widely accepted as earth, air, fire, water, and ether. These are the same elements that make up the structure of the Tarot. The deck of minor arcana is divided into pentacles (earth), air (swords), wands (fire), water (cups). Ether can be realized in major arcana cards by representing ties to universal connection.
We use the elemental qualities of a yoga posture to direct energy. Do you feel the earth and grounding more acutely when you are in poses like Tadasana or Virabhadrasana? Is the flow of air highlighted as you move through heart openers? Knowing which quality to cultivate during yoga practice can amp up healing for specific physical or emotional imbalances. Tarot also utilizes the elements as healing modes when consulting the cards. Pulling the 6 of pentacles can give you a nudge to pay attention to the earthly quality of giving and sharing, or the 2 of swords showing you the air quality in uncertainty.
Use Tarot Cards to Create a Yoga Practice…
How can tarot cards be used in a yoga practice? A fun and practical application of the tarot and yoga is to create a yoga practice that represents the quality of a card you pull. Think of it as a guide to building intentions around the asana you focus on or sequence of movements. Try this intention practice for seven days and see what manifests:
- Sit quietly for a few minutes with the tarot deck spread face down in front of you.
- Move your hand over the deck and as you feel drawn to a card, reach down and remove it from the deck.
- Place the card in front of you and meditate on the meaning. You can use a tarot guide book, an online resource, or your intuition.
- Working with the quality of the card, set an intention for the yoga practice that coincides with the interpretation.
Yoga and Tarot Use Intuition…
Just as there are refinements in a yoga practice to create something that nourishes, heals, and supports the body, tarot card divination works on the same level. Yoga and tarot use intuition as a guiding principle to a fulfilling practice. Yoga requires us to quiet ourselves enough to listen to our inner wisdom so we can apply it to our actions in the world. Tarot is a tool that fosters the same awareness of the self that is connected to the bigger picture by working with our innate intuition. Yoga and tarot can be used together as reminders of our wholeness - a combination of consciousness, archetypes, elements, and wisdom.