The 5 Natural Elements of Yoga
Balance these 5 natural elements through your yoga practice to improve your health, happiness, and overall well-being…
You’re probably aware of the concept of describing natural phenomena as “elements.” Everything from traditional Chinese medicine to Feng Shui refers to elements in some form or another – most commonly, air, fire, water, and earth. Some traditions refer to additional elements as well. In yoga and Ayurvedic philosophy, there are 5 natural elements which represent the physical and energetic qualities of both the human body and the world around us. Balancing these natural elements is thought to be key to both physical and mental happiness and well being. This is the purpose of Ayurvedic medicine, and achieving this balance may be done through a combination of behaviors and habits – including the food we consume, our yoga and meditation practices, and more.
Below is a quick description of the 5 natural elements of yoga – known in Sanskrit as the pancha bhutas, or panchamahabhutas:
- Prithvi or Bhumi (Earth) — represents solidity, stability and grounding.(Balance this element with standing or grounded yoga poses such as Mountain Pose, Tree Pose, Chair Pose, Warrior 2, or other poses that promote stability, strength, and groundedness.)
- Apas or Jal (Water) — represents fluidity, adaptability and change.(Harmonize with this element through poses that emphasize fluidity and motion, such as Cat/Cow flow, Sun Salutations, Plow Pose, Fish Pose, and Downward Facing Dog Pose.)
- Tejas or Agni (Fire) — represents energy, passion and transformation.(Activate your Fire element with poses that stimulate circulation and build heat, such as Eagle Pose, Plank Pose, Bow Pose, and Boat Pose. Breath of Fire or Kapalabhati pranayama is also helpful for bringing in this element.)
- Vayu (Air) — represents movement, expansion and communication.(Balance your Air element with poses that open the chest and lungs, such as Camel Pose, Cobra Pose, Dancer Pose, and Wheel Pose, as well as any type of Pranayama practice.)
- Akasha (Space or Ether) — represents emptiness, consciousness, and intuition.(Ether is motionless, so it is best to connect with this element through meditation and mindfulness. You can also hold your yoga poses for a longer period of time to balance this element. Good poses for this element include Mountain Pose, Child’s Pose, Bound Angle Pose, and Corpse Pose or Savasana.)
These 5 natural elements comprise the basic building blocks of everything in the universe – plants, people, animals, and the world around us. If you are familiar with the Ayurvedic doshas, these elements may be familiar to you. (The Vata dosha is a combination of Air and Ether, Pitta is a combination of Fire and Water, and Kapha is a mix of Air and Water.)
By understanding and incorporating an awareness of these elements into your yoga practice, you may find it easier to balance your individual dosha in order to create overall health, happiness, and well-being.
This article describes using yoga to balance the 5 natural elements in your own life:
To use yoga to balance and harmonize the elements, start by focusing on one element at a time. We recommend you start your journey with the Earth element, as it is the foundation for all the rest.
When incorporating the five elements in your yoga practice, try not to focus too much on their materiality. Instead, think about their energy and vibration, or how the essence of these elements affects your body, mind and emotions as you move and breathe on your yoga mat.
Try to feel the sensation of the element as much as possible throughout your practice. Once you have mastered connecting with the first element, you can proceed to the next one. Eventually, you can work on experiencing the qualities of each in every asana you practice.
Read more about balancing the natural elements of yoga at YogaBasics.com…