Understanding the 5 elements of Ayurveda is just as crucial as knowing things like our chakras, doshas, etc. The elements are yet another critical piece to the intricacies of Ayurveda and living a lifestyle in tune with nature. The five elements are ether, air, fire, water, and earth. Each element has associated qualities, and we can incorporate them into our routines to maintain our balance.
Watch this YouTube video where I explain the 5 elements or practice Element Yoga with me here.
Elements of Ayurveda: Ether
This element is the first element in Ayurveda and is referred to as “akasha” in Sanskrit. Ether is nothing and everything simultaneously; it makes all movement and life possible yet is the epitome of emptiness. Ether is also known as the space element and is the most subtle of them all. It exists in the space our lungs fill with air, our stomachs when we’re hungry, our sinus cavities, etc. Ether is subtle, light, and clear.
Chakra connection: Throat Chakra
The space element is directly associated with the throat chakra. The throat chakra is responsible for our ability to speak and be heard, but also for listening to others. Just as ether is empty, yet encompasses all, our throats are empty but can become filled with our words.
Practices To Connect With Ether
Here are a few practices to connect with the ether element:
- Practice meditation in which you do not focus on your physical body but the space outside of yourself.
- Eat more bitter-tasting foods like chard, dandelion, dill, and turmeric.
- Incorporate more sunlight into your day by working near a sunny window or taking a walk outside.
- Sage smudge your home by lighting sage and walking around your house clockwise.
Yoga Poses For Ether
Yoga poses for ether should have inversions and plenty of focus. Use poses like:
- Shoulder stand
- Legs up the wall
- Forearm balance
- Fish pose
- Camel pose
Find more yoga for ether here.
Elements of Ayurveda: Air
Subtle vibrations create air in the ether. This element is necessary for all movement and is responsible for creation and conception. The air element has qualities of clarity and movement; we may not see it, but it has a profound impact on our world. Air is invisible yet powerful, dry, and light.
Chakra connection: Heart Chakra
Air is free and light, and a heart chakra operating on all cylinders is free and light, too. When our heart chakras are balanced and flowing, we give without restriction; we flow like the air and feel as light, too.
Practices To Connect With Air
Here are a few ways to connect with the air element:
- Immerse yourself in nature and focus on the feeling of the wind on your skin and through your hair. Remember that the wind is nature’s way of interacting with you.
- Incorporate plenty of leafy greens into your diet. Think kale, collards, and Brussel sprouts. For astringent tastes, go for legumes, artichokes, and pomegranates.
- Sit and watch the wind; we may not see the wind, but we can see it move through the clouds, trees, and grass.
- Stop what you are doing every once in a while and take deep breaths of fresh air. Note what you can sense in the air.
- If temperatures and air quality allow, open windows to allow fresh air into your home and workspace, especially at night while you are sleeping.
Yoga Poses For Air
Yoga poses for the air element focus on opening up the chest, heart, and lungs. They also focus heavily on your breathing. Incorporate gentle backbends and sequences with plenty of flow and light movements.
- Bridge pose.
- Upward-facing dog
Find more yoga for air here.
Elements of Ayurveda: Fire
The fire element is called “tejas,” meaning that which heats and converts. FIre is hot, sharp, subtle, dry, and light. Ether is space, and air is movement; that space and movement create the friction fire needs. Fire is responsible for our digestion as well as other forms of transformation and conversion. Like fire turns wood to ash, it also transforms the food we eat into the nourishment our bodies need.
Chakra connection: Solar Plexus Chakra
The solar plexus chakra is connected to the digestive system, so it is naturally associated with fire. Our digestive fire, or agni, is responsible for transforming our food into nutrients for our bodies. When we experience indigestion, it is usually due to an imbalance or blockage of our solar plexus chakra that leads to a cooling of our digestive fire.
Elements of Ayurveda: Practices To Connect With Fire
Here are a few activities to help reignite our fire:
- Experience a replenishing soak in a sauna or steam room, where your sweat helps your body remove toxins.
- Take a warm bath to improve circulation and ease aching joints.
- Eat something salty before a meal to improve digestion.
- Fill your spaces with heating scents like juniper, clove, and ginger.
- Meditate with candle-gazing, where you focus on the single flame in a candle.
- Build a soothing fire in a fireplace or fire pit and sit with your eyes closed, listening to the crackling flames and basking in the heat on your skin.
Yoga Poses For Fire
Yoga poses for fire include asanas focusing on your core. Fire asanas can incorporate arm balances and active backbends.
- Boat pose
- Crow pose
- Side crow pose
- Upward-facing bow/wheel pose
Find more yoga for fire here.
Elements of Ayurveda: Water
The fire element cools to form the condensation that is water. Water is also called “aap,” or that which flows and lubricates. Water is cohesion and the ability to change shape. This element is moist, mobile, cold, and liquid. Our bodies are made up of 70% water, and it guides all bodily functions.
Chakra connection: Sacral Chakra
The sacral chakra is responsible for your emotions, sensuality, and creativity. All of those things ebb and flow, just like the water element. Like water, when we stagnate, we become fouled. We are at our best when our emotions, creativity, etc., are free-flowing.
Elements of Ayurveda: Practices To Connect To Water
Here are a few daily practices to connect to the water element:
- Coldwater therapy: jump into a cold, clear fresh body of water. None available? Try a cold shower for invigoration!
- Consume naturally sweet foods like fresh fruits, dates, milk, rice, and cashews.
- After a thorough rainstorm, go outside and sit quietly, smelling the “earthy” scent called petrichor.
- If you live near a moving body of water, like the ocean or a river, take time to sit quietly with your eyes closed and listen to the movement of the water. Don’t have a body of water nearby? Listen to the sound on a sound machine while you sleep.
Yoga Poses For Water
Water-focused asanas should include plenty of hip-opening postures that focus on flowing, circular movement.
- Pigeon pose
- Butterfly pose
- Downward-facing dog
- Plank pose
- Low lung pose
Find more yoga for water here.
Elements of Ayurveda: Earth
Earth, or “prithvi,” means that which stabilizes and holds. When water dries, it leaves behind particles that shape and create the earth element. Earth gives shape and structure to all things. This element is heavy, gross, and immobile. If fire is our digestive system and water is the fluid in our bodies, earth is the bones and muscles that structure our bodies.
Chakra connection: Root Chakra
The root chakra is responsible for our feelings of groundedness, so it makes perfect sense that this chakra is closely associated with the Earth element. Our root chakra helps us feel rooted mentally, physically, and spiritually.
Elements of Ayurveda: Practices To Connect To Earth
Here are some activities to get grounded with the Earth element:
- The perfect practice for connecting with the Earth is called grounding. Connect your body to the natural Earth (we suggest lying down!) and absorb the negatively charged particles from the Earth.
- Eat more naturally sweet foods like basil, rice, cashews, milk, bananas, sweet potatoes, cinnamon, and melon.
- Wear red: the color red is closely associated with both the root chakra and the earth element.
- Focus on a red object during meditation.
- Go on a long walk in nature and stop to smell the flowers and herbs you encounter.
Yoga Poses For Earth
Earth element yoga poses are all about your connection to the ground, in this case, your feet, legs, and hips. Pay special attention to your feet during your flows.
- Mountain pose
- Garland pose
- Warrior 1 pose
Find more yoga for earth here.
The 5 Elements Of Life
Just like doshas and chakras are essential to our well-being, it is crucial to know and understand the 5 elements (and how they interact with doshas, chakras, etc.). The universe is an intricate system seeking balance, and so are our bodies. Once we understand how all of these components interact, we can do our best to develop and maintain routines that align us with ourselves and the world around us.
Practice Element Yoga with me here