Ayurveda is also known as the “science of life” or the “sister science of yoga.” In reality, Ayurveda is a part of yoga that cannot be separated. Yoga teacher training is becoming increasingly aware of this today, incorporating a specific Ayurvedic teaching component. It is very important as it can inform the way a teacher practices and teaches.
Ayurveda believes in the five elements, much like common Western science does. Ayurveda believes that these elements are expressed within everything. They are expressed within our food and within our bodies.
- First, there is ether. It is the space in between all matter. This element is connected to the upper Vishudda or throat chakra.
- Next, there is air. It is the invisible element that is found between the ether in our atmosphere, connecting everything. This element is connected to the heart chakra or Anahata chakra.
- The next element to be discussed is the element of fire. It is the element in Ayurveda that represents transformation. It is a strong force; the fire element related to the solar plexus or Manipura chakra. It refers to a person’s confidence and power. The fire element relates well to these functions.
- The next element is water. It represents fluidity and emotion. It’s connected to the Swadhisthana chakra or sacral chakra. It is the chakra that is most related to feelings and emotion.
- The last element is the earth. It is represented in the body in the Muladhara chakra or root chakra. It is where we root down into the earth. It represents safety, grounding, and fulfillment of basic needs.
Ayurveda helps us understand how using asana can allow us to connect to the five elements within our body. Some examples include prayer pose. In this position, you bring hands to meet at the heart center (Anahata chakra), and you connect with the element of air. The forward bend is a great pose to stimulate the solar plexus or Manipura chakra. You connect with the element of fire as you strengthen the core and use the strong core to guide your movement. Another example is the tree pose. You inhale earth energy up through the feet and connect with the earth, grounding and stimulating the root chakra.
Ayurveda also helps us understand how these elements affect us in our food. For example, spicy foods allow us to feel the heat of the fire element. Wet foods, like soaked oatmeal or some fruits that contain a lot of water, represent water in our foods.
Ayurveda believes in doshas.
- Ether and air make the Vata dosha.
- Air and fire make the Pitta dosha.
- Earth and water come together to make the Kapha dosha.
Understanding the elements through Ayurveda allows people to work towards a harmonious and balanced state. If certain elements or doshas are out of balance, the body and mind are affected. Ayurveda also believes that every person comes to their body with their own predominant doshas and unique formula for finding balance through the five elements.
According to Ayurveda, the five elements are represented in every aspect of life – the seasons, the time periods – you name it!