Humans have an undeniable connection to nature and the environments around us. As the seasons change, you might notice mood changes or a craving for certain foods. Our bodies have this internal knowledge and are attuned deeply to our surroundings because we are part of them and they are a part of us.
“If we consider that the human body is a universe within itself, it is only natural to conclude that we carry within us all the elements.” ― Masaru Emoto, Hidden Messages in Water
Our Universal Connection to All That Is
In Ayurvedic traditions, the five elements, space, air, fire, water, and earth, make up everything that we know. These elements are at play within each of us as well. We contain our own unique blend that influences our personality, how we act and interact in this world. Depending on what is most prevalent in your life you can create practices and daily rituals to remain in balance. If you’d like to learn more about these five elements head to the Chopra App and discover how they show up in your world.
Our intrinsic connection to these elements and our environments at large gives us an opportunity to learn from nature as we navigate our daily lives. At varying moments throughout the year, certain elements will become more present. During the summer months, as pitta season rises to its fullness, activity surrounds us and there’s a new warmth in the air. The element of fire reveals itself and offers us a warm embrace. It can be easy to get swept up in the high energy and excitement of the summer and we might find ourselves like a candle, burning on both ends.
Without mindful practice during this time we can end up experiencing burnout. While the fire of pitta season often comes to the forefront, pitta is naturally made up of fire and water. These elements intuitively know how and when to create balance. In our own understanding of this natural balance we have the opportunity to take cues from these elements and invite the same harmony into our own lives.
The Adaptability of Water
When our worlds get too fiery as the summer months arrive, we can invite in the water side that pitta season offers us to cool things down and return to balance.
One of the things that we have in common as human beings is the overwhelming presence of water. Our physical bodies are made up of up to 70% water which fortifies and intensifies our connection to this element in particular. Water is an ultimate neutralizing force that can return harmony to our space.
Water is a powerful and graceful element — taking on countless forms and responsible for sustaining life at all levels. This element is able to carry vessels that weigh over 200,000 tons, yet slips through our fingers when we try to scoop it into our hands. Our oceans gently house some of the most delicate ecosystems on the planet and still, the force of flowing water is responsible for carving valleys into unimaginably hard granite surfaces. We witness adaptability in its truest form when we observe water and all that it is capable of.
There are endless ways to access this element, yoga asana is one opportunity to deeply explore how to invite the element of water into your life. This physical practice of yoga, from yin to vinyasa, offers us so much in the exploration of adaptability. It doesn’t have to be an intense flowing practice to understand the lessons we can learn from water. In all expressions of yoga asana we have an opportunity to connect deeply to ourselves and our breath. The breath is a vehicle for Prana, life-force energy, to move with fluidity through our bodies. As water flows, similarly so does the energy within our bodies.
One of the consistent lessons in yoga asana is the exploration of balance between effort and ease. Learning how to remain steady and strong while offering ourselves grace and softening. As we take on different forms and create shapes with our bodies we are challenged to find a steady and easeful breath, even as the body might shake or sway. Our practices on the mat are some of the best places for this type of exploration because there is an opportunity to turn inward and truly access the fluidity within you. All that we learn in our yoga practice translates into our world as a whole, the lessons take form in all that we do.
If we look back on past situations where we faced struggle or hardship, chances are the entire landscape of that struggle has shifted since then. With continued practice and movement forward the obstacle we once faced seems much smaller. In the same way that a waterfall will change the face of a mountain, you too change the face of your world. Your ability to move in flow with strength builds the resilience for transformation.
As we move through this life, no matter the journey we are on, we will inevitably face challenges. The obstacles that come into our paths might slow us down, in the same way a series of rocks might slow the flow of water. When a stream has a path it will continue on that path no matter what tries to get in the way. This piece of adaptability gives us the chance to create a dance with all that we encounter. As obstacles arise we move around, over, and under in our continued growth forward. We carve new paths and create new avenues by which we can travel. Our ability to adapt and continue to carve out these new paths for ourselves is the greatest gift in our growth.
A Visualization on Water
- Take a moment to pause and settle into your breath. You might soften the eyes to close or allow the gaze to fall towards the earth.
- As you bring your awareness to your breath, notice where it is flowing freely and where it feels like it’s getting stuck. Imagine the breath as a stream of water flowing through the body. Where the breath is getting stuck might be where there is a rock in the path, or a build up of debris.
- Without judging where the breath is or is going, take a moment to notice the breath. Notice how the breath adapts to its environment. Notice the natural way the breath will shift and move into other areas, in the same way a stream of water flows to find new pathways when a blockage occurs.
- Begin to deepen your breath, allowing the water level of the stream to subtlety increase. As the breath becomes more full and the water level rises, the movements of the breath might shift.
- Bring your awareness to the same places that felt stuck. With awareness here, send the breath with intention into these spaces. If it felt like there was debris blocking the way, allow the current of the breath to clear away the obstacles. With fluidity the breath moves through these blockages and clears the path for its natural flow.
- In this natural flow your breath is clear, the breath is free. Anytime obstacles arrive in your path, return to this place. As the breath transforms to its environments, allow yourself to do the same as obstacles arrive in your path. Use the visualization of this element to call in your adaptability and resilience.
It’s natural for imbalance to occur in our space, we exist in a world where we are constantly influenced by the things around us. When we face obstacles or imbalance in our environments, creating opportunities to rebalance is crucial. Water taking form in our lives gives us the ability to stay in the flow, to be adaptable and willing to transform. It’s finding the resilience to move forward with strength and giving ourselves the grace to take a pause when we need to.
When we recognize the role each element plays in our lives we can seek out the practices that will bring a sense of harmony back into our world.