Yoga is based on the principles of the five elements, or the great tattvas, which constitute the entire world of existence — including your body, mind, emotions, personality and spirit.
The five tattvas also relate to the five senses (hearing, touch, sight, taste, and smell) and their correlating sense organs (ears, skin, eyes, tongue, and nose), as well as the five organs of action (vocal cords, hands, feet, genitals, and anus) and the five lower chakras.
Lets continue our exploration of the five elements on our mat with yoga poses for the water element.
The Water Element
Associated with qualities such as flow, softness, and adaptability, the water element is healing, calming, and nourishing for all levels of our being. Recall the peaceful sound of a fountain, a relaxing day by the sea or the rejuvenating rush of a waterfall — water makes us feel better.
It’s not surprising that water is the element associated with the third (or sacral) chakra, which is the seat of our emotions. We not only cultivate fluidity and playfulness, but also softness as well a certain degree of sensitivity as we bring more water into our practice. Our yoga becomes more nurturing and less forceful.
Water is also contained in the pelvis, governing the hips, so the following poses are focused on bringing you into the waters of our low bellies (where the tops of the legs meet the torso). Invite more of the soothing, fluid qualities of the water element into your yoga practice with the following three poses:
1. Cat/Cow Pose
Synchronizing movement with breath to create a continuous and deliberate flow is one of the main ways we play with water on the mat.
Spend some time doing five rounds of Cat/Cow, lengthening and creating flexibility and mobility through the spine. Concentrate on the tilt and tuck of the pelvic bowl as you initiate the movements with your inhales and exhales.
To really feel connected to the element of water in your Cat/Cows, close your eyes and just begin to move the spine in whatever way feels good. Try a few hip circles, side to side movements, and roll your rib cage around as you become more fluid.
2. Bound Angle Pose
A pretty standard pose for the second chakra, Baddha Konasana, or Bound Angle Pose, brings us right into the waters of pelvis, opening the hips and groin, while calming and cooling the mind.
Seated, place the soles of your feet together and knees out to the sides. Strongly press your feet together and focus on rolling your inner thighs forward and down as you hinge forward at the hip creases.
To invite more water into the pose, consciously release and soften your low belly as you deepen your breath.
3. Low Lunge
Low Lunge, or Anjenyasana, drops us into our pelvis, opening the hip flexors and thighs while the strong root of the tailbone down connects us to the earth element and the lift in the core connects us to the fire element.
Make sure that your front foot and back knee are at least hip distance apart.
Deeply bend your front knee, sinking into the pelvis, lengthen your tailbone down to the floor and draw your low belly up away from your front thigh.
Practice with the intention of bringing more water into your body and notice how it softens everything from your body and mind to your personality and ego.
Image credit: Nir Livni Photography