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Yoga and the five elements

Updated: Apr 15

Springtime seems to be a good time to link our yoga practice to the five elements, so that will be the focus over the next few weeks. As the daylight time is getting longer, you may be energized to go out and cannot wait to breathe the crispy fresh air of spring. Or, you may not – and that’s ok too. After the cold of winter, the lockdowns and everything else that has been going on around this pandemic, you may feel a bit sapped of energy, wary and sleepy.

So we will focus on the 5 elements over the next few weeks, weaving the law of nature in the yoga practices. Earth Soil and grounds are nurturing and safe. We feel the gravity of the earth, that keeps us secure and grounded – just like the foundations of yoga postures, through the grounding of the feet and strength in the legs. The soil may have been silent and sleepy during winter, but we know that its nutrients will provide whatever is necessary for the seeds, flowers, plants and vegetables to grow.

Water In turn, the soil needs water, so essential for life - It is not coincidence that civilisations developed on the banks of rivers. The water ever present in oceans, lakes, ponds and flowing through a network of rivers to hydrate the earth. Undoubtedly, the body needs water for sustenance and for cleansing. Water cools down the body, it re-balances it when dehydrated; it has a calming effect. In the yoga practice, we will focus on balance and flow, in particular around the pelvis where emotions may be 'trapped'. Physically, we will work to release tension in this area and in doing so, perhaps, from an emotional perspective, let creativity grow.

Fire Earth and water draw warmth and energy from the sun, the fire element. Growth is a process and transformation. The heat of the sun will transform seeds planted in the earth into flowers, plants and vegetables. The energy created in the yoga practice can transform the body physically – we may feel more energized as a result. And in addition, mentally we may feel more empowered, more positive, more courageous, determined and confident – all good when we start to get out of this pandemic! In the yoga practice, we will be using backbends to fire up that energy in the body and 'iron out' the wintery creases.

Air The air and wind - essential elements for life on this planet for all living beings and systems. With lightness, love and compassion, we will practice some balances: tree pose, half-moon (Ardha Chandrasana) pose, warrior III (Virabhadrasana III). As we synch breath and movement, every inhale will feel ever so nourishing and every exhale an opportunity to cleanse the body, of unwanted and well-spent air. What happens to your mood when you smell freshly-cut grass? Summer is here – right? Or how do you feel when you breath in through the nostrils that salty breeze in the air, reminiscent of memories of times spent by the seaside? The air is the connection with all that surrounds us and that keeps us alive. Try Ujjayi breathing during the yoga practice; the vibes stimulate the relaxation response.

Space And the other element is space, that part of our being associated with intuition. We bring space in the yoga practice by cultivating an awareness and mindfulness. Vibes are around us, like energy – it is easier to tune into them, in stillness, focusing perhaps in the space between the eyebrows. Laying in śavāsana is the perfect time to do so!

How do you feel connected to these elements? Leave your comments if you wish.

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