Yoga for the Earth Element
The Earth element is represented in everything that is solid within the body. Our bones, muscles, and flesh. In our yoga practice, we can connect and balance the earth element by focusing on our hands, legs, and feet on the mat. Poses like Warrior I and II, Downward Facing Dog or Savasana fall into this category.
Also balancing poses like Tree Pose, Half Moon or Dancer pose are great.
Feeling the gravity and power of the earth element in forward folds teaches us to let go towards the earth. Good poses are a Standing Forward Fold or Butterfly Pose.
Here is an overview of my favorite Earth poses:
Mountain pose is good for improving your posture, it strengthens the ankles, knees and thighs and firms the core and buttocks.
Stand with your feet a little less than hip-width apart. Your knees should be directly over your ankles, and the hips over the knees. Lift the top of your sternum towards the ceiling and widen your collarbones. Your arms relax beside your torso, palms facing forward. Draw your shoulders down and back. Balance your head directly over the center of your pelvis with your chin parallel to the floor.
Forward Fold stretches the hamstrings and lengthens the spinal column and back muscles. It can stimulate the digestive, nervous and endocrine systems.
From Mountain Pose, with an exhale, bend the knees slightly and hinge forward at the hips with a flat back. Bend the knees enough to bring your palms on the floor (or use blocks). Relax the head and neck down and feel the stretch in your spine. Your pelvis should be above your ankles.
Side angle tones the muscles along the side of your body giving you structural support to lift and lengthen your spine.
From Downward Facing Dog, step your right foot to the inside of your right hand and spin your back heel down. Your back leg should be parallel to the back edge of your mat. Firmly press into the outside edge of your back foot. Your front knee should be a 90° angle. Find a strong foundation before lifting up the left arm up in the sky or extend it to the front of the room. Roll your left ribs towards the sky, make sure your upper body is in line with your pelvis. You can bring your right hand on a block or the right elbow on your right thigh to make it easier to open your chest.
Yogi Squat deeply stretches the quadriceps, hamstrings, gluts and calf muscles while strengthening the core and lower back. Practicing yogi squat prepares you for easy elimination and stimulates digestion.
From Mountain Pose, walk your feet a little further apart and turn your toes out. Slowly lower down to a squat. Your heels should be on the floor. If your hips feel tight, bring a block under your buttock. Bring your palms together in front of the heart and press your elbows against your inner knees.
Dancer Pose strengthens the leg muscles and opens the chest and shoulders while developing balance.
From Mountain Pose, shift your weight into your right foot. Bend your left knee, lifting your left heel towards your buttocks. Reach back with your left hand and grasp the inside of your left foot. Bring your right arm in front of you. Instead of leaning forward, start to kick your left foot into your hand that your left leg extends toward the sky.
Lizard stretches the hip flexors, the hamstrings, and the quads. It improves the flexibility of your hip ligaments and strengthens your leg muscles.
From Downward Facing Dog step your right leg to the OUTSIDE edge (pinky finger side) of your right hand. Lower your left knee down to the ground and untuck your toes. Your front knee should be close to your shoulder and into a right angle. Try to distribute the weight evenly across both hips while letting your hips sink down towards the mat. If you feel comfortable you can lower down onto your forearms, also blocks are great here. Gaze slightly to the front of your mat.
Savasana reduces stress and releases tension at the end of a practice. It improves your senses and brings mind, body, and soul in balance.
Lie on your back and let the arms and legs drop open. Extend your arms to the sides, your palms face up. Gently tuck in your shoulder blades and center your head. Your neck is long. Close your eye, take a deep and slow breath in through the nose. Exhale and let your whole body become soft and heavy. Everything in your body should be relaxed: from your pinky toe, over your hips, your abdomen, your shoulders, your face to your tongue. Remain here for a minimum of 5 to 10 minutes. Take time when you come out of the pose.