by Kristina Eisenhower
Is yoga “in the cards” for you? I didn’t need to do a Yes, No, Maybe spread to answer this question!
It was crystal clear as soon as I started studying the cards at the Transformation Oracle Intensive Workshop that certain cards are deeply connected with ideas found in yoga. This thesis shows how the Transformation Oracle has many yogic elements, ideals, and applications that can offer deeper insights to your readings, as well as illuminate new possibilities for positive change in your seekers. The Transformation Oracle is a tool for bringing light to your life, and guiding you on your spiritual journey to being not just a better person, but healing and growing into your highest Self. As a certified yoga instructor, I may have some deeper knowledge of the teachings of yoga…but as Baba Hari Dass, a yoga master, a silent monk, and a commentator of Indian scriptural tradition, said, “As soon as a person starts thinking, ‘I want to be a better person’ that is the start of Yoga.” By turning to cards for Divine guidance, you and your seeker are at the start of a journey of transformation and connection to the Divine Light within, just the same as a yoga student! Therefore, by focusing on one Transformation Oracle card from each of the four elements (Earth, Air, Fire, and Water), I will align its imagery and meaning to various concepts of the yogic journey.
Earth – Grounding, Centering & Beginning
We start our transformation journey by seeking something – a change, a purpose, appreciation or acceptance, an answer. But trying to find it out in the blurring noise of the world will only keep our heads spinning. The Contemplation card highlights how quiet meditation allows what we seek to emerge from within. In the artwork, a young girl sits squarely on a rug in the slanted sun rays that mark the beginning or ending of a day. She softens her eyelids as the smoke from the smudge stick “washes off” the outside world allowing her inner visions and awareness to rise in the stillness. Her posture is the same as the pyramid behind her, representing a strong base with angled sides ever-rising toward the heavens. One of the core aspects of yoga is this same notion of contemplation through quiet meditation, and the perfect parallels are depicted exquisitely in this Earth card. Not only is the meditation segment of yoga performed at the beginning of a class or session, it is also conducted as a closing before everyone must leave the sacred space of the studio. This card being of the Earth element illustrates a grounded, centered human body, while other parallels include the rug (yoga mat), the triangular posture (thunderbolt pose), her downward gaze (drishti to the tip of her nose), and the smudge stick (perhaps, a diffuser of essential oils in a modern yoga studio). On an even deeper level is the fact that a pyramid remains standing after an earthquake. The strength and stability that comes from a regular practice of contemplation, whether it’s on a yoga mat or not, gives you an unshakeable base from which to raise your consciousness and move forward in your transformation journey.
Air – Tuning In with ‘Om’
Another oracle card that resonates with a key ingredient of a yoga practice is the Receptivity card. This Air card highlights the importance of listening and being open to the valuable and meaningful messages, lessons and clarity that can come to us through sounds of the self and the Source. The image of the woman absorbing the rippling sound of the singing bowl is an excellent illustration of tuning in and soaking up the vibrations of Universal energy. Singing bowls, bells, and chants are all used in various yoga genres. The imagery of the clear rainbow spirals radiating around the woman’s body could be equated with the sound Om, which vibrates at the frequency of 432 Hz – the same vibrational frequency found throughout everything in nature. As such, Om is the basic sound of the universe. So by chanting it during yoga practice, we are symbolically and physically tuning into that particular sound and acknowledging our connection to all other living beings, nature and the Universe. However, that sense of connection to others can sometimes interfere with our self-knowledge. We hear the yoga teacher tell us to listen to our bodies and not to push through any pose or be influenced by the other practitioners around us. But do we listen?Often not. We’d rather try to keep up with the class; lift our leg as high as the teacher, or be the A+ student. Thankfully, we can pull the Receptivity card (instead of a hamstring), and see how it speaks loud and clear to those of us seeking to hear and feel the music in our souls and rhythms of our bodies. All we have to do is open ourselves and listen.
Fire – Spiritual Activation Through Yoga Poses
Since the Fire element of the deck has everything to do with energy and action, I find the Perspective card to have the most yoga correlation. The colorful artwork shows how the free spirit of the one child is all about movements and different positions. He balances on one leg, stands on his hands, rolls out of a tight ball, and stretches his arms and legs wide open. Each of these postures give him a different viewpoint of the world and his own abilities. While his performance is not perfect, he is focused on carrying them out with a beginner’s mind. This card reminds us that there are so many ways in which to view a situation. We don’t have to analyze every little detail. Nor do we need to stand firm in our resolve. We can be flexible and explore new angles and make adjustments. The Perspective card represents the epitome of the asanas (poses) in a yoga practice. It’s not enough to simply sit or stand, look right or left. We must bend and twist, fold and reach, in order to expand our perceptions, so that we can see what is of the highest good for ourselves in the world. Consider the pose Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward-facing dog) as a beautiful way to discover the spiritual and mystical levels of asanas. When you’re in down dog, it’s like your world is turned upside down and backwards. You’re seeing the world in a completely different way. Just as the boy on the card does, we can take many different approaches. We can notice what different postures can reveal about our situations in life. A twist, for example, may help us to see how we, or another person’s mind have twisted things. So, perhaps when this card is pulled from the Fire element, we can read it not only from the spiritual sense, but also from the physical sense, and strike a new pose. How about we start with something upward facing?!
Water – Floating in Savasana
There couldn’t be a more perfect card to show the direct connection and application of the Divine wisdom of the Transformation Oracle to the practices of yoga than the Surrender card. This Water card evokes such a safe and serene feeling. A spent, almost sinking young woman is scooped up and cradled in the strong, but gentle hands of her “Higher Self”. The weary woman can now rest easy and float suspended in the calm water. It’s safe to release her efforts and struggles and let them dissolve into the clear water around her. It’s okay to put your head back, close your eyes and relax – just breathe and be. Surrender — the Universe has your back. In yoga, as in life in general, this seems to be the hardest concept for people to grasp, let alone enact. Just like the woman swimming in varying depths of the murky waters outside herself, yoga students hold their breath while struggling to stay in a pose for the time needed to truly relax into it. Only after they’ve exhausted themselves through strenuous effort and manipulation of their minds and bodies, are they willing to lay down in Savasana (corpse pose) and let the solid support of Mother Earth hold them. Savasana is meant to be the ultimate resting period for recognizing and accepting the transformation that is constantly taking place in us and around us. So, the Surrender card and Savasana couldn’t be more clearly aligned with each other, nor more crucial to any transformation journey.
Baptiste, B. (2016) Perfectly Imperfect: The Art and Soul of Yoga Practice.
Lasater, J.H. (2015) Living Your Yoga: Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life.
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Learn More About Elements
For basics, check out Cynthia Santana’s article on Transformation Through the Elements.
Use Trisha Michel’s comprehensive Element Exploration Tool to read secondary and tertiary elements in the Transformation Oracle.
Deepen your spiritual approach with Jeanette Peasley’s article on How the Elements Relate to Spirit.
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