One of the quintessential teachings of the yoga tradition is that we are not separate from, but intricately linked with nature (the five elements being the archetypal building blocks of everything), and the better attuned we are to our natural rhythms the better we feel on all levels of our being.
Ever notice how good it feels to practice yoga outside?
Understanding the energetic properties of the five elements and their associated effects on the body is the first step to becoming more in tune with the vibrations of nature and more balanced within.
Let’s continue our exploration of the five elements with poses for the fire element.
The Fire Element
Associated with the third chakra deep within the abdomen (the source of your personal power), fire is the element of change and transformation. Qualities associated with the fire element include determination, drive, commitment, passion, intensity, radiance and inspiration.
There are many different ways to bring more of the fire element into your yoga practice, from a continuous flow through the poses, to holding the poses for longer lengths of time, as well as specific breathing techniques such as the breath of fire.
Explore the fire element in your practice and stoke your internal fire with these three yoga poses:
1. Boat Pose
Start seated with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Holding onto the back of your thighs, lean back and begin to lift your feet of the floor, bringing your shin bones parallel to the earth.
Balancing on your sitting bones, lift up through your sternum and lengthen your spine. Extend your arms and legs forward (or keep your knees bent if your low back is tender). Take 5 to 8 breaths holding onto the backs of the legs as necessary.
To really build heat in the core try lowering down to Half Boat Pose on your exhale and back up to full Boat Pose on your inhale five times.
2. Chair Pose
Utkatasana is the Sanskrit name for Chair Pose, however when broken down, the term Utkatasana translates more accurately to “fierce pose” (utkat meaning “fierce” or “powerful” and asana meaning “pose”). Chair Pose is intensely fierce, taking you directly into the core of your personal power.
Talk about commitment! You can build heat by simply holding Chair Pose for as little as three breathes; or to get more circulation going, you can pulsate between Mountain Standing Pose and Chair Pose. Or, throw in a prayer twist for an extra surge of fire.
3. High Lunge Twist
Twists take you deep into the internal layers of the abdomen and directly into the fire of the third chakra.
Furthermore, the element fire governs our digestion according to Ayurveda, and twists are the go-to poses for detoxing, gently massaging the internal organs, and improving digestion.
As you twist in your high lunge, stay fiercely committed in your legs and focus on twisting first below your belly button and working your way up the spine.
I invite you to try one of these poses on their own, paying attention to the heat they build and let us know if you don’t experience some of the same qualities of the fire element.