Everything in nature is made up of five basic elements: earth, water, fire, air and ether. Not only do they make up the world around us, but they also form the structure of our body, mind and spirit.
Yogis have been working with the elements for thousands of years, taking advantage of each of the element’s properties (and energy) to cultivate the same qualities in themselves.
Explore the five basic elements in your yoga practice with the following five-part guide, beginning with poses for the earth element.
The Earth Element
The earth element, which is associated with the first or Root Chakra, comes into our yoga practice with a sense of grounding and stability in our poses — drawing upon the earth’s energies of commitment, steadfastness and sturdiness.
To bring more “earthiness” into your practice, try the following poses with an awareness of the downward energy through your legs and your feet’s connection to the earth below.
1. Standing Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
The ultimate earth posture, Tadasana evokes the strong, centered and unwavering presence of a mountain.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and concentrate on the four corners of your feet as you press them down into the floor. Engage the muscles of your legs by hugging them towards the midline as you lengthen your tailbone down to the earth and lift through the crown of your head.
2. Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
The focus and commitment required in balancing poses not only stabilize our bodies but also our minds; while Vrksasana conjures the imagery of a tree with it’s roots digging deep below the crust of the earth.
Standing in Tree Pose with your hands at heart center, press down through the four corners of your standing foot and engage the muscles of your standing leg — pressing your inner thigh strongly into the lifted foot.
Lengthen your tailbone down to the floor, anchoring your Tree pose and creating more stability. With a strong connection to the earth below, begin to grow the limbs of your tree taking your arms overhead.
3. Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)
Virbhadrasana II requires the steadfast commitment of a warrior, strengthening your legs and opening your pelvis to deepen your connection to the earth.
Come into Warrior II with your front knee bent to 90 degrees directly over your front ankle and your back leg strong and straight. Take a moment to connect to the floor beneath your feet as you press the four corners of each foot down into the floor.
Allow your hips to deepen as you engage your legs, feeling the heavy quality of the earth.
Remaining connected to the earth below your feet, begin to draw your legs toward one another, lengthening your tailbone straight down as you begin to lift up and out of your pelvic bowl. Notice the relationship between rooting down into the earth while simultaneously drawing the earth’s energy up through your legs to support the whole pose.
Bringing more earth qualities into your practice results in a much needed grounding energy that helps us remain stable and connected as we seek expansion in our poses.
Stay tuned for the next installments of Yoga and the Five Elements! Tell us: what are your favorite earth-grounding yoga poses?