According to ancient traditions, everything within us is made up of five elements: earth, water, fire, air and space. These five elements can be a springing-off place for your home practice. If you’re seeking to connect with the natural world and reinvigorate your time on the mat, keep reading.
The earth element is associated with groundedness. When you are connected to the earth you are stable, safe, secure and confident. When you highlight this connection in your practice it helps you leave behind stress and forgetfulness. You’ll be tapping into the power of your root chakra, which is associated with solid body parts like bones. If you’re planning on working on this element in your home practice, try rooted asanas (poses) like Mountain pose or Tree pose. These will both root you to the earth, as you work on your balance and connection to this element.
Unlike the solid foundation of earth, water is about flow. It’s about how we can adapt and move through the many change of life. It also is associated with healing, calming and cleansing. Water-based practices are usually more playful than earth. And you engage your third chakra, located in the lower abdomen when working on water. If you’re seeking to integrate this element into your practice, try poses that flow from one to another with the breath. Cat and Cow is one example, and Mermaid pose is another static pose that helps with this practice.
When one calls upon fire, they’re envolking drive and ambition. It’s usually associated with our third chakra, which is between the navel and solar plexus. If you engage in this practice you’re working on power, passion, ambition, intensity, commitment and inspiration. If you are working on bringing this element to your mat, try working up a sweat. Boat pose and Handstand are both core-engaging and push you to explore courage and determination.
Air is an element about expansion. It helps with clearing and purifying the body and works to fan our inner fire. Breath is often associated with life force, and is necessary for sustaining life. Air is often connected to the fourth chakra, in the heart and lung space. Try pranayama (breathwork) to activate this nurturing life force. On the mat you can focus on opening the chest with Cobra pose, Locust pose or Bow pose.
Space is a subtle element--encompassing everything that exists in our world. Often it represents intuition, wisdom, stillness and a sense of freedom. Because space’s work on communication with the universe, the fifth chakra, located in the throat, is often invoked. To work on this element in your own home practice, try a seated meditation or Corpse pose. You can also try throat-opening poses, like Camel pose or Fish pose.