13 May How Yoga helps balance the 5 Elements? (contd…)
Earth element forms the muscular structure and other solid structures of the body such as the nails, teeth etc. The earth element is associated with the first chakra, Muladhara or root chakra, and is located at the base of your spine. This element and chakra are associated with security, safety, and stability. Deficiency of earth element causes weakness and diseases like rickets and osteoporosis. Excess of earth element makes the body prone to toxins, a sluggish metabolism and lethargy.
When the earth element is balanced, you feel confident, grounded, flexible, safe, resilient, and strong. An imbalanced earth element can cause anxiety, paranoia, fragility, moodiness, and forgetfulness. Connection with the earth element can be established through regular practice of grounding and balancing poses which help find and build stability and security.
Balancing poses like Tadasana (Mountain pose) and Vriksasana (Tree Pose) are the best asana to help your body, breathe and mind connect with the earth. These are great foundational poses for all other standing poses as it helps improve posture and stability, besides strengthening your leg muscles.
Advanced Balancing poses like Virabhadrasana (Warrior pose), Garudasana (Eagle Pose), Kaakasana (Crow Pose) build up endurance, stability, concentration and confidence.
Grounding pose like Janu Sirsasana (Head-to-Knee Forward Bend) is a seated, forward bending pose which invites a sense of humility while developing flexibility in your hamstrings, back, thighs, and hip joints.
Water represents cohesion. Its characteristics of flow, adaptability, ability to bind substances and its healing nature emerges in the body as nourishment, growth and lubrication. Water binds the body structure also together.
Water is often used in the cleansing practices of hatha yoga, the shatkarmas, to cleanse the internal organs of the body and to balance the digestive acid (fire).
When water over-accumulates, digestion slows down and it inturn leads to dullness and depression. Regular practice of Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutation) is very beneficial in such cases, for release of toxins through sweat. On the other hand, deficiency of water can leave you inflexible in the body and mind. Hence one should also include poses targeted at the pelvis for remedy.
Practicing Baddha Konasana (Butterfly), Anjenyasana (crescent pose) and Marjariasana – Bitilasana (Cat-Cow Pose) help in regulating the Water element in your body. Focus on lengthening and creating flexibility and mobility through the spine. Focus on deepening your stretches, as well as releasing tension and unprocessed emotions.
The Ether or Space element is associated with Vishuddha or throat chakra, and is located in the neck. Space equals freedom. Space is a container for all the other elements; the source of intuition and wisdom from the universe; associated with magnanimity and expansion. It can be cold due to lack of fire, dry due to lack of moisture (water), still because it lacks the mobility of air, light because it lacks the heaviness of earth, and ever-present because it is the space between all the other elements. Space, is the element from which all other elements originate, and to which all elements return.
An unbalanced space element leads to feeling of emptiness, isolation, overwhelmed and misunderstanding. When the space element is balanced, there is an ability to freely express yourself, feel connected with the world around you and feel physically and emotionally nourished.
Space element can be balanced through yoga poses that open the throat like Sarvangasana (Shoulder pose) and Setu bandhasana (Bridge Pose). Pranayama techniques like Ujjayi breath where breathing is heavy through the vocal cords, bring awareness to your breath, your body, your mind, and the space in and around you. All space element qualities are balanced well through restorative poses like supta bada konasana (reclining bound angle pose) and savasana (corpse pose).
One of the best ways of balancing the elements is to learn the natural order of the elements in the body. Earth and water are at the base, below the navel, fire is in the middle of the torso; air and space reside in the upper body. Maintaining awareness of this when we practice asana, pranayama and meditation aids the proper distribution of the energy into the elements.
Come to the Dallas yoga fest and find a way to connect to the five elements—earth, fire, air, water, space—by incorporating each of them into your daily yoga practice. Awaken your prana, awaken your body parts with consciousness and energy, coaxing the elements into balance.