31 Mar How Yoga helps balance the 5 Elements?
Knowledge of the five elements allows a person to understand the laws of nature and to use them to attain greater health, power, knowledge, wisdom and happiness. The balance of space, air, fire, water and earth inside the body can be continually regulated – through the food we take in and through regular Yoga practice.
Using Yoga to purify and rebalance the Elements in the Body
Each of the five elements have an inherent nature and thereby share a certain relationship with the other elements also. These relationships form the laws of nature. Some elements are natural enemies while some elements complement each other i.e. nurture each other. For example, Fire and Water, diminish each other. Too much fire in the body creates inflammation, while too much Water dampens Fire and cause indigestion. Earth and Water love each other and Air and Fire increase each other.
Let’s start by understanding the most commonly used elements to purify the body-mind : Fire and Air.
Fire is a powerful cleanser, burning up toxins and impurities, keeping diseases at bay. It is the source for heat, power and resolve. It represents the solar plexus in our body – the chakra in the abdominal region. The biological fire is responsible for regulating body temperature and metabolism. Healthy digestion is essential—not just for the food we eat, but also for the experiences that we absorb.
Asanas invoking dynamism through movement and flow tend to increase Fire in the body. Twisting poses like Ardhmatsyendrasana (Half Spinal twist), Paschimottanasana (Sitting forward bend), Naukasana (Boat Pose) are extremely powerful in firing up digestion and induce healthy processing. Twists offer detoxification by gently massaging the internal organs.
Fire is also responsible for anger, hatred, envy, criticism, ambition, and competitiveness. Hence Static poses should also be done in regular Yoga practice for achieving balance by cooling and stabilizing the metabolic fire. These would typically include Padahasthasana and the most relaxing – Savasana.
The Air element is responsible for breath, blood circulation, nervous impulses and motor movements. Embodied in our breath, the Air element puts us in touch with the flow of prana. When the Air element is balanced within the body, the breathing is smooth, steady, and deep, inturn resulting in calming thoughts and stabilizing the mind. Essentially, Air is the force behind all motion and life.
The Air element relates to our wisdom and is associated with traits such as mental agility, logic, intellect and objectivity. The Air element is associated with the fourth or Anahata Chakra (Heart chakra), and is contained in the chest and lungs.
Unbalanced Air element (deficiency) leads to lack of blood circulation resulting in feelings of dullness, and unproductive thoughts or (excess) leads to rapid heart rate, insomnia etc.
A regular yoga practice stimulates deep breathing alongside refining poses with mental acuity. Balance the Air element through these chest-opening poses:
- Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
- Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)
- SetuBandhasana (Bridge Pose)
- Ushtrasana (Camel Pose)
- Chakrasana (Wheel Pose)
- Natarajasana (Lord of the Dance Pose)
Before you start your yoga practice, bring awareness to your breath and connect to the Air element by doing the simple seated pose : Sukhasana.
Of all the elements, air is perhaps the most powerful to cleanse the body of toxins, since it is the Prana, the life force. When it is made to circulate through the body and the other elements, it automatically purifies us. Learning the proper use of breath during asana and incorporating Pranayama practice into a daily routine increases both our lightness and our inner power. Certain pranayama techniques can also be used to identify where imbalances lie in the elements of the body, and to consciously rebalance these.
Continue reading more on how to use Yoga to balance the 5 elements.