Earth element: 5 Elements of Yoga

My favorite tool I’ve learned to use in my years of practicing Ayurveda and Yoga¬†is the lens of the five elements. Earth, water, fire, wind, and space combine to compose our entire reality.

The five elements are present in everything, but the dominance of any one element gives each thing its uniqueness.

I was initially drawn to the poetic nature of this new way of looking at the world. Then, I was really inspired and overwhelmed when I realized I could connect to this reality intuitively from a feeling place. I knew that my ability to feel grounded and stable was dependent on my relationship with the earth element, and my passion and transformation were fueled by the fire element.

The principle of stability is the Earth element.

The earth element is a powerful force in your body. It affects your muscles, your fat tissues, and the hard part of your bone. The earth element is cool, stable, and dense.

When you have a strong connection with the earth’s elements, you feel rooted and stable. You are emotionally grounded, confident, and flexible. You make well-considered and firm decisions.

Earth promotes commitment and confidence. You can “purify” or enhance the elements by working with them in your yoga practice. They are then able to do their jobs to support your health as best they can.

These three poses can help you “purify” and connect more deeply with the earth element in your yoga practice.

Pose of Hare

While sitting in Vajrasana (kneeling position), place your hands on the thighs and focus on breathing deeply into your stomach. Imagine that you can fill your torso with every inhalation from your pubic bone up to your pit of throat and empty it from your pit of throat down to your pubic bones with each exhalation.

On your next inhalation, raise your arms straight above your ears and, exhaling forward, try to keep your back straight. You should only come forward as far as possible without bending your back or straining. Inhale to lift your back to a sitting position.

After a few reps, let your torso come forward as far as possible, touching your head to the floor if you can, before raising your body back up. As you sit back down, focus on lengthening and straightening your spine. Repeat this 8-20 times.

Benefits This position encourages you to move always from your grounded and rooted center.

Animal Pose (Saithyaliasana).

From a kneeling position, shift your hips to the right so that they are on the ground near your feet. Bring your right leg forward and your left leg behind you. Touch the sole of your foot on your left thigh at your left knee. Your hips should be shifted so that your left knee is directly opposite your center line.

Exhale, inhale and extend your back. Fold forward with your chest pointing towards your knee. Keep your right hand bent and close to your knee while extending your left arm long in front.

Hold for 8-108 breaths and try to keep your chest and hips square to the floor.

Benefits: This position has a subtle and deep impact on your hips. It harmonizes your liver’s discrimination function with your heart’s expansive nature, allowing you to maintain healthy boundaries.

Squatting Pose (Vayu Nishkasana)

Toes facing out, place your feet at a 45-degree angle about hip distance apart. Place a blanket under your heels if you are unable to squat with your heels on the floor. Bring your hands down to the ground in front of you, or if your heels rest on the floor, place your fingers under the arch of your feet.

Inhale, lift your chest, and straighten your arms. Imagine putting a small arch on your lower back. As you exhale, lift your hips, fold forward, and lower your head while pulling your hands against the arch of your feet. Spread your elbows to the side and lift your shoulders.

Inhale, and then return to the squatting posture. Hold in either position for a few deep breaths to increase the depth of the opening. Repeat 8-20 times.

Benefits This position stimulates and opens the earth channel (Prithvi Nadi), which runs up your back legs and through your sit bones, along your spine, and across the top of the skull to the roof of the mouth. This channel flows appropriately when you feel rooted and connected to the earth. If it’s blocked or crowded, you might feel disconnected or spaced out.

Add these poses to your asana routine, and you will feel calmer, more grounded, and more present. What are your favorite ways to get grounded when life gets a little wild?

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