Balance Life in the Mountains Through the 5 Elements

earth, water, fire, air, ether

Explore ways to find evenness in your energies by Leslie Ross...

“Yoga is about clearing away whatever is in us that prevents our living in the most full and whole way. With yoga, we become aware of how and where we are restricted — in body, mind, and heart — and how gradually to open and release these blockages. As these blockages are cleared, our energy is freed. We start to feel more harmonious, more at one with ourselves. Our lives begin to flow — or we begin to flow more in our lives.” – Cybele Tomlinson

Yoga in Sanskrit means Union, a union of coming together of all sides of ourselves. The dark and the light. Yoga takes many forms, beyond what we stereotypically may think of - a classroom with a teacher and lots of “fit” people in tight clothes.  Yoga, at its roots, is designed to remind us of our connection to nature and all of life.  It is this connection, or unity consciousness, that yoga leads us towards and as a result, gives us the experience of health, peace and joy we all seek. In Ayurveda, the sister science of Yoga (the science of life), health and wellness are the byproduct of keeping both your internal and external landscape in balance. Opposites balance and same promotes same. So to promote optimum health, we often have to forgot what we tend to lean towards and use opposites to balance our imbalances. 

Yogic wisdom teaches that each of us contain the entire universe within ourselves.  The Five Great Elements - Pancha Mahabhutas (Ether, Air, Fire, Water & Earth)  are the dynamic forces of nature that interact to create the universe we inhabit and through which we can seek to balance our imbalances.  You can use the principles of the 5 elements to create outer harmony and inner peace, quickly returning to your center no matter what storms blow through your life. By balancing your own system, you assist the entire universe in re-balancing itself.

As we enter each season, we may notice some imbalances due to environment influences and lifestyle choices. The winter and spring seasons may tend to leave you a little ungrounded with the colder temperatures and high winds (in Summit County).  As the seasons change from dry and cold to more warm and moist,  we can benefit with connecting with nature to help bring us back into balance.  

With our feet on the ground (rather than in snow boots), it is time to reconnect with the grounding aspects of the earth element.  Through connecting to the Earth Element (Prithvi), one can learn to ground and stabilize the body and mind, creating a strong foundation for your practice and life to flourish. Water brings us back in the flow of life and allows us access and integrate emotions to liberate our creative energies and experience the flow of your intuition.

The fire of the sun warms our core and energizes our spirits.  Fire (Agni) supports us activating your alchemical power to transform patterns of limitation into your greatest strengths. Through the element of AIR (Vayu) you can learn to tune into your subtle energy and circulate prana to open your heart and clear stress from your mind. Through cultivating an ever-increasing awareness through subtle yet powerful practices one can connect with Ether-Space (Akasha). 

Learning how to discover and then dissolve imbalances in the five elements can help to experience alignment in body, heart, mind and soul.  When these energies are in balance, we experience health and well-being. When they are out of balance, a whole array of physical, emotional and spiritual disharmony can result.

This summer, bring the journey full circle to integrate all five elements into wholeness and realize the integrity of your being.  Drink in your surroundings with “Forest Bathing”. Even if you spend the majority of your days in an urban environment, stop under a tree, visit a nearby botanical gardens. Find some green and drink it in. 

Take a moment to connect with earth. First sit and connect with your environment. Close your eyes and tap in. Begin to listen to the sounds around you ( air, ether), feel the sun on your skin ( fire), the wind through your hair (air). Possibly lay on the ground and look at your surroundings from a new perspective.  

Then standing in mountain pose, stand tall, lengthen your spine and imagine your feet are rooting down into the earth as the top of your head reaches towards the heavens. Three times, draw the energy up from the earth up through the back of your body to the top of your head and down the front (microcosmic Orbit). Then repeat three times in the opposite direction up front, down the back.  

Salute the Sun. Reach your arms to the sky, and then bend over and touch the earth, Step back to a plank pose and fire up your core and lower to the earth. Then lift your torso up as if you were a cobro and open your heart. Lower down and connect with the earth. 

Enjoy 5 ways to connect to the elements and reconnect to what inspires you.

Earth: Ground down to earth with Forward Folds. Forward bends affect our digestive system, adrenals and reproductive organs. The energy is downward and outward and also balancing and centering. Child’s pose will give you a sense of reconnecting to your core and a sense of grounding and safety.

Water: Focus on Flow and moving seamlessly in and out of poses and sequences like Sun Salute A. Add a little spark to your life with adding in another dimension to how you practice yoga. Literally get on the water and practice yoga. Welcome back fluidity and playfulness  into your life as practice yoga on a floating surface with Stand Up Paddle Board Yoga.

Fire: Charge up your core with Chair Pose (Utkatasana). Fire up your digestion with a focus on the 3rd Chakra (manipura chakra). Add in a twist to bring more focus to digestion and assimilation as well as have a calming and centering affect. Open your heart with Backbends.

Air: Close your eyes, sit or stand with a long spine and relaxed body, and as you inhale and exhale feel the breath circulating around and through the head and neck. Camel Pose. Cobra. Open your heart, your throat to clearer expression.

Ether: Close your eyes, sit or stand with a long spine and relaxed body, and as you inhale feel the breath radiating outward from the navel to the arms and legs. Extend your arms over head, interlace your fingers and mindfully hinge at the hips to each side. Stopping at each side to breath a couple full, deep breaths,  feeling and expansiveness and openness in your being.

Kimberly Ghorai