Jungle Wisdom Cards: The Origin Story

When I studied group dynamics and interpersonal relationships, I discovered that a certain percentage of people will feel anxious when asked to choose a partner from within a group. (Are you one of these people? If so, don’t despair. You may have the paired gift of being able to perceive other invisible stressors—this skill can make you an insightful yoga teacher. But that is a conversation for a different time and place.) Offering pairs of cards or stones as a way to assign partners eliminates this stressor, and gives the added bonus of sprinkling a token of inspiration into an experience. As with all aspects of PYC programs, it’s the attention to little details like this one that creates a environment that is conducive to relaxed learning. Hence, we’ve been using stones and cards at PYC from the very first yoga teacher training program.

After a few years of working with Zen cards, Jane mentioned that they were getting a little raggedy. She also said, casually, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to have cards based on the Pavones ecosystem?’

Thus began a delightful two year project culminating (finally!) in the Jungle Wisdom Cards. At the beginning, Caru, Jane and I spent many afternoons at PYC brainstorming messages for the toucan, the wren, and the macaw. At that point we hadn’t even worked out how the final list of animals for the deck, nor even how many cards the deck would have. We worked our way through dozens of animal messages together. Then we branched out and invited students to participate with us. For those of you who weren’t able to participate in these sessions, this is how they unfolded: we would sit in a circle, each with a piece of paper and a pen. I’d offer two or three animals from which to choose… centipede, owl, or whale we might say. Centipede, someone would offer. So we’d spend three or four minutes coming up with words, phrases, and images associated with the centipede. Then we took turns offering what we’d written. At the end of a brainstorming session I gathered the words of wisdom from everyone who wanted to share, and then compiled the most common threads into a cohesive narrative. Once we were nearly finished, Jane, Caru and I retreated to Drake Bay to complete the project. We recorded some of our sessions there and turned them into podcasts!
All of the proceeds from sales of the cards will go toward a nonprofit organization devoted to conserving the rainforests of Costa Rica. I am a terrible self-promoter. But these cards are an offering of the heart with a purpose far beyond any motives on my part. So I feel pretty comfortable begging you to buy them… not for me, but for all the animals you’ve ever loved and want to protect. I am so excited to share this offering with you. I like to think of all of you, my yoga family friends, drawing a card as you sip your morning tea or coffee, then letting the jungle wisdom seep into your day.

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