According to Ayurvedic teachings, there are five elements that make up the world around you: earth, water, fire, air, and space. These five elements also reside within you, and understanding them and their effects on your body can help you better connect with yourself and nature.
One way to better attune with the elements is to incorporate them into your yoga practice. Yoga is a great way to strengthen your connection with your body and mind and create balance within. Each of the elements offers various and different benefits, and focusing on the fire element during your yoga practice can bring you tremendous strength, power, and opportunity for transformation.
Associated with the third chakra, Manipura, which is located deep within your abdomen, is the element of fire, or agni. This element and chakra are associated with heat, power, strength, passion, transformation, and digestion. When fire is not in balance you can become depressed, lazy, and withdrawn (low fire) or irritable, angry, and aggressive (high fire). An imbalance of fire can also cause inflammation or indigestion.
There are many ways to incorporate the fire element into your yoga practice, including the following:
- Increase the length of time holding poses
- Increase your flow through poses (Vinyasa)
- Focus on poses that strengthen your core and create internal heat (see below)
- Learn breathing techniques, such as the breath of fire
With the above list in mind, try the following poses to stoke your internal fire and strengthen your third chakra.
1. Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar)
The Sun Salutation is actually more than one pose—it’s a series of 12 poses for you to flow through. This sequence is a great way to tap into your internal fire and warm up your muscles for the poses that follow. Here is a detailed description of the Sun Salutation with photo instructions.
2. Plank Pose (Phalakasana)
Plank is a great foundation pose that will help you move into other, more complex poses. This pose helps to strengthen your arms and abdomen, and improves your posture and stability over time.
- Begin on your hands and knees, with your wrists directly under your shoulders.
- While gazing down, spread your fingers wide and press down through your forearms and hands to straighten your arms without collapsing your chest.
- Tuck your toes and step back with both feet, bringing your body and head into one straight line, parallel with your yoga mat. Try to not let your hips sink or lift, maintaining that straight line with your body. To modify, bring your knees to your mat.
- Hold for 5 to 10 deep breaths.
3. Tiger Pose (Vyaghrasana)
Sometimes referred to as “knee-to-nose” pose, the Tiger Pose is another great way to strengthen your core. It generates heat from within as you move through the sequence.
- From Downward-Facing Dog, inhale to lift your right leg up and back.
- On your next exhale, bring your shoulders over your wrists, round your back, and pull your right knee toward your nose.
- Inhale to re-extend your right leg up and back to a three-legged, downward-facing dog position and exhale to come forward, knee to nose.
- Repeat 3 to 5 times on the right side and then do 3 to 5 times with the left leg.
4. Revolved Lunge Pose (Parivrtta Anjaneyasana)
Adding a twist to the traditional lunge pose helps target your abdomen and improve digestion.
- From Downward-Facing Dog, step your left foot forward between your hands and come down to your back knee.
- Inhale and lift your arms to the sky and upright your torse.
- Exhale and bring your hands to prayer. Take a big inhale here.
- As you exhale, twist to the left. Press your right elbow to the outside of your left knee, keeping your hands at heart center.
- To deepen the pose, you can tuck your back toe under and lift off of your back knee. To take it even further, extend both arms, reaching your left fingertips to the sky and your right fingertips to the mat. You can also place your right hand on a block.
- Hold for 10 to 15 breaths.
- Repeat on other side.
5. Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
This pose not only works your legs and arms, but also stimulates your abdominal muscles. After just a few breaths, you can start to feel the heat rising from within.
- Begin by standing with your feet hip-distance apart.
- Inhale and raise your arms above your head.
- Exhale and bend your knees so that your thighs are parallel to the floor. Keep your weight in your heels.
- For an added challenge, try Prayer Twist by lowering your arms and bringing your palms together in prayer position at your chest. On an exhale, twist your torso to the right. Bring your left elbow to the outside of your right thigh.
- Hold for up to one minute.
- Repeat on the other side if you did Prayer Twist.
6. Boat Pose (Navasana)
This pose is a great way to build heat in your core as well as strengthen your abdominal muscles and hip flexors.
- Start in a seated position with your knees bent in front of you.
- Rock back to balance on your tail bone, sending your legs into a 90 degree angle in front of you, lower legs parallel to your mat.
- Stretch your arms forward. Maintain a straight spine by engaging your abdominal muscles and lifting your heart.
- For an added challenge, extend your feet up so that your body is in a “V” position.
- Hold for 10 to 15 breaths.
7. Half Lord of the Fishes Pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
Twists are always great to include in classic fire yoga sequences, as they gently massage organs within your core cavity, which aids digestion.
- Start by sitting on the floor with both legs in front of you.
- Bend your knees and keep your feet flat on the floor.
- Slide your left foot under your right leg so that it touches your right glute. Your left knee should be resting gently on the floor.
- Step your right foot over your left leg so that the sole of your foot rests flat on the floor; the outside of your right foot should be touching the outside of your left knee
- Exhale and twist gently toward the right.
- Press your right hand on the floor behind your back and rest your left forearm or elbow over your right thigh.
- Continue to deepen the twist with every exhale.
- Hold for one minute.
- Repeat on other side.
These poses are a great start to strengthening and stoking your internal fire—and especially beneficial if you’re on a journey of self-transformation.
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