Whether we are aware or not, the five universal elements are always at play in the many areas of our life, effecting our state of mind and sense of wellbeing.
We can harness the unique gifts and characteristics of each through our yoga practise, diet, rituals and attitude to increase our energy, vitality and pacify the things in excess that keep us from feeling balanced.
The five elements are earth, air, fire, water and ether/space. We need all the different qualities each elements offers to balance and transform our bodies and minds on a micro level. On a macro level, they keep our world in order and sustain the environment. They are the substance that keep everything together.
When an elements becomes deficient or in excess, problems can start to occur. The thing about balance is that it is constantly in flux and the science of ayurveda recognises that two people have uniquely different needs throughout the seasons.
Some people absolutely thrive in the warmer season, finding this the perfect opportunity to be outdoors and active. These are usually the people that always have cold hands and hibernate in winter. Others will see direct sunlight as their enemy and count down the days until they can pull out the winter gear again.
Each season is assigned an element. Each element has a gift and a challenge. In the southern hemisphere now, summer, we see the fire element dominate the climate. In alchemy, fire is the element of transformation.
In balance, fire provides warmth and comfort and internally manifests as the ability to cook or digest our food transforming it into energy we use in our bodies. Out of balance, we see in nature bush fires and dryness. Internally it can manifest as the inability to absorb nutrients as the digestive fire can burn up nutrients before we can assimilate. Another common way it shows up is being “hot headed” and firing up easily.
Fire is associated with our chakra three or the solar plexus chakra. In balance we have a strong sense of self, we are confident and have the willpower to follow through. We know what we need to do to transform our desires into reality and can easily manifest that which in which we need to have a life we love and thrive in.
When in balance, like the beautiful warmth of a camp fire, people are drawn to us, want to be around us and want to help us in the pursuit of our dreams and desires. Out of balance with too much fire we can be demanding, pushy and bully other people.
If our chakra 3 energy is not strong we won’t have the esteem or fire in the belly to pursue our passions.
As the mercury rises in the natural world, we take more precautions about being fire safe and put in place preventative measures to avoid tragedy. We can also be conscious of our inner environment to ensure we are managing the element of fire. We need enough fire for healthy digestion and assimilation and to have the will to move on things but not enough that we are in excess going around creating fires in our life.
Nature uses the elements to cleanse and purify and we can also include a range of lifestyle approaches so can also use the power of the elements in the same way.
You can support yourself this summer through many different approaches. Some of my favourites include:-
- Try to incorporate a few more yin classes if you are showing signs of excess fire as yin is a grounding practise
- Avoid straining in your vinyasa practise and try to be as mobile and fluid as possible in your movement
- Eat more cooling foods like big green salads that are lighter for when our internal fire is strong - this will help keep the body cooler
- Drinking tonnes of fluids to keep hydrated and adding things like mint to your water
- Decrease heating spices such as ginger and cinnamon during the warmer months to avoid aggravating fire
- Dress in lighter fibres and fabrics to avoid overheating your body
- Keep exercise to the cooler time of the day in the mornings and evenings where possible
Through the practise of yoga and studying the self (savidyaya) we create a space to reflect on our own self and the way that things are so we cane make the lifestyle adjustments that we need on and off the mat to live in harmony with the outer and inner environment.
By Kristy Da Silva