Yoga, whole food eating, being in nature and surrounding yourself with people who uplift you are collectively practiced for promoting your best health. In order to experience an even deeper connection to our highest wellness, we look to Ayurveda. Ayurveda begins with getting to know the elemental and Doshic nature of who we are. From the largest tree to the tiniest cell in our bodies, and even the table in your house, each tangible piece of matter is a composite of the 5 elements. Ayurveda teaches us how to harmonize these deep connections between our inner and outer worlds. Earth, fire, water, air and ether are constantly at play with our bodies, creating the world in which we perceive with our senses.
Conversations with yourself
Stepping into Ayurvedic healing is consenting to a loving relationship with yourself where you consistently check in and ask yourself, how you are really doing.
How is your physical body? Your spiritual body? How is your emotional body?Pause...be honest and kind with these questions. We can answer these inquiries by navigating what elements are present in different parts of our biological systems.
Attuning your mind to conceptualize all of the elements within your physical body may feel strange, but if you begin by using the elements as metaphors for your systems then that is a beautiful start. Each of us have a unique combination of natures elements. Over time you will begin to learn what your body feels like with different elements at play. This will allow you to heal by acknowledging that you have too much fire in your digestive system and thus need foods with cool, moist qualities. Or perhaps you have too much air in your thoughts, it is hard to pay attention to the task at hand and you don't feel settled in your space. Doing earthy, grounding physical practices will help focus your mind and allow you to feel rooted.
Earth is the principle of stability, solidity, groundedness and the form of matter. It is the quality that makes up the firmness of stones, mushrooms, wood, and your bicep muscle. The earth element represents physical structure in our bodies, even-mindedness and the ability to hold space for others while staying rooted in your seat. Earth inspires us to take up space, it allows us to know that through chaos there is still a foundation of stability. Earth wants us to feel the full weight of all things, and lean in. If you are feeling complacent or tired you may need to bring in the fire element to ignite your energy because your earth elements are overactive. When you are feeling flighty in your thoughts or fidgety in your body you have a lack of the earth element. To embody earth you can engage in loving relationships, dance barefoot outside, eat root vegetables and smell the sweet soil after it rains.
Earth elevating practice: Go outside and sit on your Indigo Ayurvedic Yoga Bolster, place your bare feet and hands on the earth beneath you and feel the sensation of life connecting with your skin. Envision roots growing from your palms and feet into each layer of the earth.
Fire is the transmutation of matter into light. Fire is inspiration, energy, movement, digestion. That is why we call it being 'fired up' when we are feeling full aliveness. Fire breaks down the apple and turns it into nutritions to build our body. To have balanced fire is to feel creative and awake. Fire can easily burn too fast and that can cause irritability, inflammation or aggressiveness. When fire is too strong we can turn to ether and water to cool and soften the flames. When we have low fire we can feel confusion, sorrow and lethargic. To ignite your flame, eat spicy foods, bathe in the sun, go for a run or sing your favorite song at the top of your lungs!
Fire elevating practice: Utthita Padmasana, sitting in lotus pose, place two Sappan Wood Ayurvedic Yoga Blocks on either side of your hips, on your exhale, use your arm strength to elevate your hips, legs and knees off the floor. Do this breath to movement 10x or until you feel the fire burning within!
In Ayurveda water represents the sweet nectar of life, our juicy sap that makes us feel lubricated and lovable. Water allows us to go with the flow of life with unbounded compassion and grace. Water also represents the emotions that wave through the container of our body, washing us clean from misguided perceptions and patterns. When water is overactive we feel an unhealthy attachment to physical things and are stuck in the same thought loops. To balance this we can invite in the element of air to move and release. Think about stagnate water, when a gust of strong wind comes by it can move and shape the waters. When water is under active we feel a lack of joy or out of touch with our feelings. To embody water move through the ebb and flow of life's journey with gratitude, drink herbal tea, allow your thoughts to find completion and feel all your emotions fully.
Water elevating practice: On your hand loomed, organic Bennd Ayurvedic yoga mat, do a vinyasa practice and envision your body as a peacefully flowing river. Remember that you have the ability to move through life with ease and acceptance.
Air is the quality of mobility, freedom, change. It is the winds that will carry you through new chapters of your life. In our bodies air governs nerve impulses, breath, movement of our limbs and movement of thought. When air is balanced you can transition into new situations easily and ideas come to you clearly. When air becomes too strong it causes hurricanes and tornados. You may want to invite the element of earth into your life if you feel like you cannot glide with the speed of your wind. If you are having a difficult time getting a project off the ground then you may need to invite more air into your life. Celebrate change, jump up and down, climb a hill and take deep breaths to inspire the element of air.
Air elevating practice: Lying on your back with your Sappan Wood Ayurvedic Pranayama Pillow under your knees, do your favorite breath work practice for 10-20min. We love doing box breathing: inhale for the count of 5, hold your filled lungs for the count of 5, exhale for the count of 5 and then hold your empty lungs for the count of 5. Each round increase your count by one.
Ether is a subtle element that represents outer space and spirit. It is our intuition, our DNA, the connection to the Divine. Having balanced ether is a knowing that you are divinely connected and guided by all things. When you feel out of touch with your higher self it is because you need more ether. To welcome in this element take time to meditate, clear out spaces in your home that are cluttered and clear out a day on your calendar for self care.
Ether elevating practice: On your Indigo Ayurvedic Meditation Pillow sit and do a 10-20min meditation practice of your choosing daily. As you begin to implement a daily meditation practice you will be able to tap into the element of ether.
Each of us tend to embody one or two elements more so than the others, though the other elements are still present in smaller doses. Use this article as a guide you can go back to so that you can identify what is active within you, and how you can become more aligned. Ayurveda's 5 elements are translated into the 3 Ayurvedic Doshas: Vata, Pitta, Kapha. Doshas are constitutions that tell us what imbalances we are prone to and how we move through the world. We will begin a journey into each Dosha in next weeks journal.