The Five Elements in Yoga: Air
In this series of articles we will explore how the five elements of Nature are being felt and experienced in our own bodies. It is a matter of remembering that we are nature, our bodies, flesh, bones, energy and everything in-between are made of Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space (or Ether). If we break our cells down to the smallest atom, we can see that we are made of the same matter as everything else around us - we are the whole and the whole is us. Check out the first article of the series: Earth, Water, Fire
The air element brings about the qualities of adaptability, communication, lightness, clarity, movement. It is an invisible element, yet a very powerful one. Air increases the qualities of the other elements; think of it like this: add air to a flame and it becomes a fire, add air to water and it becomes waves, add air to earth and it becomes storms.
Its quickness, adaptability and intelligence allows for change. We see it in our modern technological age (which is powered by air energy), the fastness of advancements, the hyper-connectivity and invisible waves of energy that connect our world. We live in a world that is very fast, with access to an incredible amount of information where artificial intelligence is becoming better and sharper every day; these are all characteristics of the air element. And as you may guess, these fast changes also bring a sense of disconnection from our human nature and nature in general; as if the human race was going too fast for nature to follow, yet we know that nature is much, much more powerful than us...
As it relates to our body, the air element is characterised by the breath or Prana in Yoga (which also means Life Force). It is the energy that keeps us alive, that makes our hearts beat and that powers the reflex of inhale and exhale.
In Yoga, it is believed that there are energetic winds within our bodies that correspond to our actions:
- Udana Vayu: the upward-and-outward movements of speech, singing, exhaling, thinking, and vomiting;
- Prana Vayu: the movement of subtle life-force energy around the heart and lungs;
- Samana Vayu: the air energy governing digestion in the centre of the body;
- Vyana vayu: pervades the whole body;
- Apana Vayu: governs down-and-out energy like the ability to feel connected to the earth, elimination, and menstruation.
The air element is found in our heart chakra (wheel of energy); Anahata, located in the centre of the chest and relates to the sense of touch. It is located in the area of Prana Vayu, where our life force resides. The heart chakra primarily relates to our ability to give and receive love, and to me, it is not a coincidence that our life force and ability to experience love both reside in the place.
How the Air element can manifest in you
Is this you*: feelings of anxiety, restlessness, fear, spasms, twitches, light interrupted sleep, worrying, excessive thinking, dislike of cold or winds, unusually cold, dry skin, constipation, gas, bloating.
In a balanced state, the Air element within us is felt by a creative and energetic mind and a lively and enthusiastic personality.
But don't forget that your environment can greatly affect the balance of the elements in you. As you read above, we live is a time which already has a lot of air energy, therefore we should be even more mindful of our habits. Prioritize these four things: routine, warmth, serenity, nourishment. * These are very broad examples of things you may experience when you lack connection with the Air element or when there is a too high amount of Air energy in you. I mention these to give you an idea of how this element can affect us, however in order to receive a real diagnosis of how each element affects and impacts you, you should consult with an Ayurvedic practitioner. Ayurveda is the sister science of Yoga and is a wonderful ressource.
How to connect with the Air element
FEEL THE AIR
Next time you are outside, feel the breeze on your skin, in your hair. Notice how it gently caresses your face. Or how it can bring about feelings of nervousness and instability on days of strong winds. Become aware of how you react to this element, and it will generally give you a good insight as to whether you may have excess or too little of it within you at that moment.
SEE THE AIR
Watch the world move around you, sit in a park and notice people walking or jogging, talking with each other, dogs running, notice the movement of the trees and grass with the air blowing upon them. We are so much IN the movement that it can be interesting to take a step back sometimes and notice the world be around us. It can give us perspective.
MEDITATE ON THE AIR
Close your eyes and imagine the winds blowing gently across the leaves and on your face. We don't ask the winds where the are going and why they are here, they just are. Practice doing the same with your thoughts, let me be noticed by you without the need to understand them and let them be, like the winds.
CONNECT TO THE AIR
The air element corresponds to the heart chakra and to our life force. Place a hand on your heart and the other on a tree and feel the instant connection that link you both. Feel gratitude for the strength of nature and the strength of your own heart. Feel the nourishment and the love travel between the two of you, both of you acting as connectors between the Earth and the skies. Yoga poses: anything that opens your chest, supported bridge pose (lay down with a cushion under your upper back so your arms and head are on the fround but your chest in elevated, keep your feet on the ground), tree pose with your arms up, pranayama practices like Sama Vritti (equal inhales and exhales).
To practice with me and receive the recordings of my "The Five Elements in Yoga" classes or join me Live online, send me "AIR" on WhatsApp +33618836151 or by Instagram DM @josephinecantona