The five elements are earth, water, fire, air, and space. The five elements and yoga tell us that these elements are within the body and the Universe, uniting us as one. Integrating the five elements and yoga into our mind and body can be super helpful and provide a different perspective on life. The elements are the framework for just about everything and especially our body.
When I was first taught about the elements in a yogic context, I found myself gravitating towards sceptical feelings. Shrugging off the idea that we have fire in our fingertips and air in our lungs that could make us all the same.
I clearly hadn't shaken this information far as that afternoon I went for a swim in the river. Floating on my back looking up at the sky, allowing my body to move with the gentle flow of the river and in this moment of absolute bliss, I burst into uncontrollable laughter. We've all been so conditioned to be realistic and sensible in a conventional way that it's hard to recognise the things that make sense to us personally.
Of course we are the elements, we find comfort in nature, we are exhilarated by the wind on a mountain top, soothed by a warm bath, grounded by the earth under our bare feet, fascinated by the stars on a clear night.
How we practice certain poses in yoga can re-unite us with this deep connection to the elements and help to bring more balance into our bodies.
Fire in your yoga practice is all about moving from your centre. Choosing poses that make you feel energised and of course be sure to add in some core work for a more literal representation of fire.
Start your air practice with breath work (pranayama) to get the energy flowing, alternate nostril breathing is perfect for balancing the air element. In your air practice, focus on your transitions from one posture to the next. Take your time and enjoy the moments in between, rather than rushing for the final product. If you have an inversion practice, then be sure to practice mindfully and with gratitude of the air around you.
Take your practice outside, no mat, no shoes or socks. Try holding downward facing dog, letting your hands and your feet connect to the earth, maybe getting a little grubby and be sure to feel some child like magic!
Space is the fourth element, but the element I like to work with first. As without the necessary space in the body and mind, we will struggle to feel open towards the other elements. Start your practice with a meditation and then move onto your favourite stretches.
Water is all about fluidity and emotion. Letting go of feelings and thoughts that no longer serve us. We can learn so much from a river that is constantly flowing, never in the past or the future always welcoming in the new. Try working through some postures that release tension in the hips and shoulders.