Yoga teaches that we come from the five elements – earth, water, fire, air, and sky. I have found it very helpful to use these elements as a lens through which to see myself and my reality. Each element offers insights into how well you are integrated into your life. Anyone can use them to become more balanced and to leverage your gifts such that your life becomes more fulfilling and joyous.
Earth is about getting grounded in who you are. It’s about knowing yourself, knowing what you want, and then aligning with what you truly desire. What’s your life purpose? What’s your life agenda? Knowing this simplifies and organizes your life such that decisions are easier to make and you gain more control over your life direction.
Sky is transcendental, unbounded, and free. But you need earth to know sky. Tantra teaches that it takes the mortal to experience the immortal. You already have everything you need inside of you. This leads me to understand how earth is really sky condensed. Earth contains everything in sky but in limited form. The practice of yoga is about removing the obstacles to this unbounded energy within so that it’s free to arise within us. This is why when you open to a bigger energy (sky consciousness), your life gets lighter, solutions to problems suddenly appear, and your intuition opens up.
Earth has the wonderful quality of steadiness. Earth moves slowly and barely changes. Earth represents your capacity to be steady, consistent, patient, and grounded in who you are and what you need. A lack of earth energy leaves you feeling empty, ungrounded, unfocused, and insecure. Once you go there, you can easily spiral downward into self-doubt, anxiety, and depression.
Earth keeps you stable and on the path of your heart. Of course you can have too much earth energy and become rigid or stubborn. Who hasn’t been there? But the beauty of the five elements is that one of the other elements will balance you. Water, which is all about flowing with life, being flexible and accommodating, can shift rigidity and stubbornness.
The five elements are beautifully cultivated through becoming a yoga teacher. In my 200-Hour Teacher Training, earth has a special place. As a teacher it’s important to know who you are and what you want in life. Earth connects you to your purpose. My training is structured to increase your earth energy in every way. There’s a consistent early morning practice with a curriculum where you learn how to meditate (in the Tantric tradition), chant mantras and invocations, and learn pranayama (yogic breathing techniques) that promote the removal of impurities and strengthen your bodymind and your inner resolve to get yourself healthy. Good health is vital to serving a bigger energy. It’s necessary for serving others and for being a yoga teacher.
In the Ashaya method, the asana practice is a unique blend of aligning our body with the five elements through the four Ashaya Yoga Essentials (open, engage, align, expand). When it comes to the earth element, we learn how to engage our muscles in a balanced way. We learn that skeletal muscles are designed to contract. But most people have no idea how to contract their muscles or they do so in an imbalanced way. This leads to muscle tension and torsion on the joints which produces pain. How ironic that in the practice of asana, which is all about creating a healthy balance within, we can become imbalanced or injured. But it happens. To engage your muscles, Ashaya uses a technique known in the medical world as Eccentric Contraction, which is when you engage your muscles first before you stretch them. Then during the stretch phase you continue to contract. This protects the joints, heats up the tissues, and circulates blood and prana to the area being stretched. This also greatly increases your earth energy. I like to call this E-ccentric or “Earth-ccentric” Contraction in honor of the earth element! You become stronger, steadier, more balanced, and safer in your poses. What’s great about that is that when you feel safe, your body lets go and you are more inclined to experiment with stretching further or trying more advanced poses.
Just last weekend in the second session of my Five Elements workshop series at Sruti Yoga in Great Barrington, MA, I got the entire class up into handstand. The focus was on the earth element. Our goal? Do not bend our elbows. Be steady. Then with the support of not one, but two people, you slowly lift a leg and press yourself up into the pose. And once up, you have to squeeze your legs together while also not bending your elbows. That’s a lot to think about when you’re upside down. Some people become overwhelmed with fear. When that happens they lose all control of their body and mind and their body usually goes limp. But if you are limp when you’re upside down, you become very heavy and then handstand is difficult. It’s so ironic but when you engage your muscles and squeeze the midline with your legs, your whole body becomes lighter. Then handstand is a blast! Why does your body become lighter? My theory is that because earth is sky condensed, when you engage properly, you access your “inner sky” which is ultimately light and free.
We all know that when you are grounded in who you are, when you know yourself and stop doubting or questioning yourself, you become focused and more effective in life, in your work, in relationship, and in all things. Earth can do this for you. But it takes making a commitment. It also takes a community of supportive beings who also want the same thing. This is why the Ashaya Yoga 200-Hour Teacher Training is such a wonderful opportunity to transform your life!
Please consider joining the Teacher Training beginning in September in Lenox, MA and balance all of your five elements, including earth, to become the person the universe has made you to be. Enjoy the attached earth Savasana recorded recently and inspired by my earth class at Sruti. Join me at Sruti for water, fire, and air coming up soon.
May you cultivate the earth element in the form of steadiness in all that you do.
P.S.: Assignment! Take a hike in the woods or on a quiet road and notice the earth all around you. Dedicate your walk to the healing of the earth and to the quality of steadiness that is required to live from your heart and fulfill your life destiny. Then when you return from your walk, lie down and put on the Earth Savasana recording below. Let me know what you experience.
Ready to learn more? Align and engage with me in an upcoming course!
|May 3-5||Dallas, TX||LEARN MORE AND REGISTER|
|May 11||Great Barrington, MA (water)||LEARN MORE AND REGISTER|
|June 1||Great Barrington, MA (fire)||LEARN MORE AND REGISTER|
|June 29||Great Barrington, MA (air)||LEARN MORE AND REGISTER|
|August 14||Mashpee, MA||REGISTRATION INFO TO COME|
|August 20||Provincetown, MA||LEARN MORE AND REGISTER|