February 14, 2012

Yoga & The Lovers in Tarot. ~ Bri Saussy

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Bondage. Commitment. Freedom. Love.

Experienced yoga practitioners know that one of the best ways to open the chest and heart center is through certain binding exercises like pasasana. I started my practice of binding poses to assist me with gaining flexibility in my ever tight shoulder area. As goes yoga, so goes life, at least for an intuitive professional like myself. When I am in a phase where I practice yoga more frequently (and I admit that I go through definite phases with my asana practice), I find that I pay more attention to the detail of my tarot cards and am able to uncover possible meanings and lessons from the cards that might otherwise remain hidden.

Case in point: The Lovers card, an especially popular Major Arcana card at this time of the year and its relation to binding asanas. Reading tarot cards is as much an ability to read the image on the card as it is to read the querent (individual asking a question), situation, and concept of the card. Taking the Rider-Waite-Smith card as the industry standard, when we look at The Lovers card, we see a man and a woman who are clearly analogous to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Behind Eve is a tree loaded with fruit and an emerald green snake coiled around its trunk. Behind Adam is a tree with twelve leaves aflame. Over both of them floats a heavenly angel, its face peaceful, its hands in a position of blessing and benevolence. The entire feeling of the card is rich in color, detail and symbol. Naked, the lovers look at each other, but between them lies a mountain. The mountain is in the background of the picture, indicating that the obstacles and barriers it represents are not part of the lover’s present experience, but will manifest at some future date.

Some professional readers take the mountain to represent and symbolize the aftermath of Adam & Eve’s supposed fall from grace—it represents the toil in the rocky soil that they are consigned to after being cast out from the garden. That understanding relies on a very orthodox reading of the Garden of Eden story which I do not necessarily support. In truth, the mountain can symbolize many different obstacles and challenges—as many as there are lovers who worry about them. But my asana practice and the practice of binding postures specifically brings the fundamental challenge to the fore, THE question that those of us in committed relationships may ask from time to time and that The Clash immortalized: Should I stay or should I go?

Of course, this question can also be asked by people not in a committed relationship. Most likely, it has been asked on numerous first dates. But I want to focus on the weight and heft of the query as it relates to those of us in committed relationships. One of the perks of my job (they are legion and they are fabulous) is that I get to talk to a lot of people about love. It turns out that one of the most commonly held fears when it comes to commitment and “sticking it out” is the fear of losing of our freedom. Free will. You know, the stuff that supposedly got Adam and Eve into their troubled situation in the first place? But also the thing that somehow cemented their relationship—odd, huh?

I remember the first time I went into pasasana. I immediately felt the loss of control, the loss of freedom—my instructor had to kind of pull me into it—gently, but still. Somewhere in my brain the connection was made and the question was asked: how much of our fear of losing freedom is really about losing control? How much does our Ego obfuscate what is true? There is a fear of losing freedom and there is a fear of losing…myself. The fact is that serious exclusive commitment does bind and restrict us in certain ways—just like those pesky binding poses. But, as the student of such asanas will discover, on the other side of those limitations and restrictions is a deeper, sweeter freedom. Your chest opens, breath fills your lungs and your heart shines brighter. You dedicate yourself to another, the right one, for you. You yoke yourself to them and you find that in doing so you are able to love the entire world just a little bit more.

Of course not every relationship is the right one, judgement and discernment are required. But when you are in the gorgeous garden gazing upon the face of your beloved, do not let the mountain of fear and ego keep you apart. Consider exercising your free will—to bind yourself to that which matters the most.

Bri Saussy is an intuitive adviser and professional ritualist living in San Antonio, Texas, with her incredible husband, beautiful baby boy, 3 birds, a dog, and tons of family. She holds a BA in Western Classics & Philosophy and an MA in Eastern Classics from St. Johns College in Santa Fe. She is the founder of Milagro Roots where, among other programs, she runs The Miracle Tree Sessions and practices Anusara and Iyengar yoga at her neighborhood studio.

This article was prepared by Assistant Yoga Editor, Soumyajeet Chattaraj.

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