How to Use the 5 Elements to Balance Your Emotions
In Ayurveda, yoga's sister science for health and wellbeing, there are traditionally five elements that provide the foundation for our world: earth, water, fire, air, and space. These elements can be seen around us and felt within us. Knowing a bit about each one and its properties can support you in staying present and balanced in life, no matter what arises.
Simple elemental grounding techniques have brought such profound stability to my being. I have many examples, like when I lazily laid around for a week straight during COVID quarantine (excess earth energy). All I needed was an energizing, fiery yoga practice to bring me back to equanimity.
Or, more recently, when I so nervously signed a contract to purchase my first home. With my heart racing and stomach-dropping (excess air energy), I knew I needed an earth technique to pull me back to my center. I laid flat in the green grass, feeling the support of Mother Earth beneath me to root me to the present moment.
Want to know how to bring harmony to your own life by honoring each element? Try these techniques:
The earth element is strong, stable, steady, heavy, grounding, and supportive. It feels like safety, security, and home. If you're in need of grounding, consider the following:
Lie on the earth or walk around barefoot in the grass.
Get your hands dirty in some soil with activities such as gardening.
If you can't get outside, try simple yoga postures like Viparita Karani (Legs Up The Wall Pose) and Balasana (Child's Pose).
Water is cleansing, mobile, fluid, graceful, and adaptable. If you're feeling particularly hot and in need of water's cooling touch, try these:
Drink a cool glass of water.
Splash fresh water over your face.
Take a bath or wash your hands as you envision the water cleansing away negative emotions.
The fire element is hot, sharp, bright, luminous, radiant, and courageous. If you're feeling particularly cold and unmotivated, work on embodying fire with these ideas:
Rub your palms together back and forth to create friction like you're rubbing fire kindling.
Gaze at a candle flame for a few minutes and meditate on its radiance in Tratak meditation.
Spend time in direct sunlight.
Listen to upbeat music that pumps you up.
Air is movement, circulation, dry, light, cold, rough, and subtle. If you're feeling stagnant and stale, the air element can inspire you to move intentionally. Here are some air techniques:
Go for a car ride with the windows down, or open up the windows of your home for some fresh air.
Practice heart-opening yoga postures such as Ustrasana (Camel Pose).
Try pranayama breath practices that support controlled "wind" in the body, like Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing) and Bhastrika (Bellows Breath).
Space is receptive, expansive, free, clear, light, subtle, soft, and empty. If you're feeling the opposite of this — maybe cooped up and restricted — try being more spacious with these techniques:
Move yourself to a physical space that feels open and expansive.
Wear loosely fitting clothes that are comfortable for you.
Listen to music that lights you up and makes you feel free.
Once you are familiar with these elements, it's simple to use them in your own life. As you become mindful and check in with your body and mind, you'll be able to intuitively discern which element may be in excess and which technique will support your needs.
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