Almost all ancient cultures view the world’s phenomenon as an intersection of a handful of basic elements. Whether you look at traditional Chinese culture, Indian philosophy, or, indeed, yoga, you can find such basic elements that, in a sense, make up the world as you know it.
In yoga, there are five elements of nature:
- Space (or Ether)
They equally represent part of the human body and the material world alike. Each element works together to achieve a sense of harmony and peace that leads to well-being. But when they are out of balance, the elements of nature can create unhappiness and suffering.
By understanding the five elements of nature in yoga, what they represent, and how they work together, people can develop a sense of equilibrium through their yoga practices.
Understanding the 5 Elements of Nature
Earth is the solid matter of the entire Universe. It is the physical world in its entirety – everything you can touch, including your own human body.
When the earth element is balanced, all that is physical is in harmony, and creates a sense of support and stability, even being grounded.
Unbalanced earth elements lead to a sense of physical weakness, and exhaustion.
Water is a cleansing actor that also provides nourishment. Because there is water, there is life. The water element can help you connect with your own feelings and emotions. Connecting with these elements helps foster a deeper understanding of a person’s thoughts, what they feel and why.
Imbalanced water elements often lead to confusion, anxiety, and other negative emotions that are not easily managed.
Fire is a powerful symbol of transformation. It represents heat and light. When the water element is balanced, it provides the spark a person needs to achieve their goals. The fire element is the fuel the mind and body need in their day-to-day life.
It’s easy to know when the fire element is balanced. It’s when you feel the most strong, most confident, and even most motivated. This provides focus and determination for transformation.
Imbalanced fire elements lead to the opposite: giving up on one’s dreams. Having the energy to pursue change, no matter how beneficial it may be. A sense of hopelessness that transformation is not possible.
Air represents freedom of movement. Air can travel into any corner of the world, no matter how small, and fill it with its presence. When the air element is balanced, it creates a sense of freedom, happiness, and even an optimistic viewpoint. An imbalance of air elements often translates as worry or anxiety. Its freedom is cut down.
Space elements are open. It’s a subtle element that governs both the body and mind. Balanced space elements can lead to open-mindedness, and over time, even spiritual growth and tapping into higher consciousness.
Unbalanced space elements can create a prison of the mind and perception. Feeling trapped and closed off, or that you never have enough time or space.
The Relationship Between the Five Elements
Each of these five elements of nature interacts with each other and forms the laws of nature. Some work together, while others are in contradiction and can even cancel each other.
For example, fire and water cannot coexist together, as the water puts out the flames of the fire. For them to coexist, they must be kept separated. Fire and air, on the other hand, can be good together, as the air can make the flames of the fire stronger.
As a result, the elements don’t exist independently of each other. Achieving a sense of balance in some can sometimes affect other elements, but only to a certain extent.
How to Use Yoga to Balance the Five Elements of Nature?
The elements of nature can be balanced only if you dedicate your attention to each element at a time. The process itself is a magnificent spiritual journey that can free a person’s mind and perception.
When doing yoga to balance the elements, it’s important not to give too much attention to the material representation of all these elements. Though you can find them in this plane, the elements of nature go far beyond what people can see.
The water element goes beyond the lakes and rivers. The earth element is more than the soil you walk. Fire burns deeper and stronger than the flames of a match. Instead, it’s worth focusing on the energy and vibration that each of these elements has. To tap into their essence, and the higher role they have to play.
Most often, when using yoga to balance these elements, you should try to feel the sensation that each element can offer throughout your practice, to truly connect and balance them:
- Fire – feel a sense of warmth, motivation, and passion
- Air – feel freedom, without borders, and courage
- Water – feel positivity, and connect with your emotions
- Earth – feel grounded, connected, and even secure
- Ether – feel open, accepting, and willing to grow
Once you have connected with one natural element, you can move on to others throughout your practice. And over time, your mind, body, and spirit can become more in tune with the laws of nature, and the five elements that govern it.