The five great elements, or panchamahabhutas:
The combination of elements that are most dominant within you makes up your dosha. Finding out your nature is essential for creating a lifestyle of balance using the 5 elements in life. Air and ether create the vata dosha. The pitta dosha is a combination of fire and water. The kapha dosha is earth and water. Knowing your dosha—along with what shifts you out of balance—is the first step in understanding how to best incorporate the five elements into your life.
What takes us out of balance, more often than not, is going overboard with our dominant nature or way of being. Our day-to-day environment, life stressors, even seasonal changes can also unbalance us. As the outside world’s environment changes, so do the elements within our bodies. So when it’s raining, we experience more of the water element. When it’s hot, more fire.
What we take in through our senses and the food we eat also contributes. Your dietary selection should be well balanced in variety and for your nature, then to the nature of the seasons. What makes you balanced during the summer will need to have seasonal adjustments, think "seasonal depression".
Making subtle adjustments to stay within alignment for body-mind-soul and health-emotions-spiritually. For example, to stay within balance for the seasons you simply adjust with the opposite qualities- meaning that a hot, sunny day may call for cooling foods, like salads. The colder weather months require hot tea and warm stews. Personally I feel Spring and Fall are the transition asanas in order to flow into balance for the peaks. To slowly move your way into them, being mindful about what you take in through the 5 senses, further cultivates creativity to try new things to inflate balance and strength.
The ability to hold on longer with stillness regardless of the posture, the sequence, the teacher, for the duration of the class, on the mat and off the mat creates longevity in life. Discovering our body's capability in each asana from yoga sets the foundation for our life’s journey. The combination of the two gives us a sense of safety from the ability to rely solely on ourselves, (home) earth element.
From there you expand, you flow with the sense of confidence within yourself. Flowing with ease brings even more ease outside our bodies and inward, (water element). This flowing current powers your energy to transform and deliver even more of this self-nourishment. This ignites our inner light and self-confidence (fire element) giving us the motivation for more transformation.
We arrived at the evolution of self-love entirely in our roots. Love is rooted in the devotion of self-nourishment, joy, and motivation. The duration to invoke growth physically, mentally, and spiritually.- (air element). The transportation of these elements working within balance, flowing without forcing or stopping is when you arrive at the destination of one. Waiting in stillness without motive, being ok with the here and now, completely balanced with a sense of wholeness but room for expansion, for whatever floats your way or taken away won't make a difference because you are one with the self and higher self (ether element).
Here is a further look at the five elements:
(Prithvi) Earth element- Consider this your foundation and a starting point for which direction you go. The earth element is the heaviest of the elements and makes up the solid matter of the universe. The earth element is cool, heavy, rough, stable. It's the supportive structure, "home”, for the physical body, bones, flesh, skin. It provides the shelter for the foundational structures to build, grow, and expand them physically, mentally, and spiritually higher. Furthermore, when the earth element is out of balance, issues with our skin, hair, muscles, and bones may crop up. We may also experience exhaustion, weakness, lack of flexibility, or loss of appetite to" take in”. Exhaustion from the lack of take in, movement, causing weakness in the body’s foundations to which flexibility of the mind and body become stagnant from expanding growth.
Correlating Chakra- Root: sense of being, survival, stability.
Correlating mood: calm, grounded, safe, reliable.
(Jal) Water element- Water is soothing, cleansing, sustaining, and nourishing.
The water element helps us connect to our feelings and emotions. Water imbalances can manifest in shifts in the quality and amount of fluids in the body, including saliva, digestive juices, joint fluid, reproductive fluids, and blood. Mentally, an out-of-balance water element is associated with addiction, repressed emotions, or a lack of the ability to flow in life. Too much water in the earth element causes a muddy foundation to which you feel stuck "lazy". Without movement stagnation forms blockages, causing an overflow of water "emotions”. Tears from the lack of stability "earth element" causes flooding of our emotions bringing on depression. Not enough water-element causes harsh decision-making, and stiffness in the mind and physical body.
Correlating Chakra- Sacral: sense of pleasure, flow, sensuality.
(Agni) Fire element- This element represents heat, light, digestion, transformation, and metabolism. Fire provides energy for the body, and the element to fuel our sense of independence and motivation. Too much water from the earth element causes our motivation, light, and transformation to become stagnant. When our fire is out of balance to itself, symptomatically we feel the heat igniting explosive emotions. Anger, irritability, and when out of control it becomes unpredictable, spreading painful burns onto others, causing destruction throughout all areas in your life. When you can regulate your fire element (anger) then you keep this element structurally intact, it works by fueling the positive aspects in your life fueled by this element. The irritability also plays a role with any skin irradiation.
Correlating Chakra - Manipura: sense of self, purpose, personal identity.
Correlating mood: confidence, discipline, motivation
(Vayu) Air element- Air represents all forms of motion, breath, thoughts, and blood circulation. When in balance, air gives off light and a sense of joy. When out of balance, some of the symptoms present are anxiety and indecision bringing out the feeling of being “stuck” from lack of the water element.This is how anxiety is fueled. Since all the elements play off the balance or unbalanced among each other then when your fire element becomes out of balance to the air, it fuels feelings of not only irritability, but also anger that merges into anxiety and not knowing why or what to do in order to get away from these feelings, therefore helplessness sets in bringing out depression- heaviness- the earth element. When fire has more room to spread then it’s the space that the air element provides for this to continue. This causes an inability to be present, or create conflict in relationships. Burning straight through all your most personal aspects that are in your life.
Correlating Chakra- Heart: sense of relationship, boundaries, balance, love
Correlating mood: loving and compassionate awareness, intellect, lightheartedness
(Akasha) Ether element -
The most subtle of the elements, ether is all about space and openness. This element governs the spaces of the body, including the space inside our cells. Ether is the synergy of all the elements (becoming one). Ether is space, stillness, that which contains and holds. Ether is the element that connects us to spirit, intuition, other realms, and planes. When ether is unbalanced, it can present itself as a lack of faith, feeling overly rational and disconnected to intuition, the"self of knowing”. Feeling out of sync with your body and the other elements around you. Energetically, we may feel closed off or as if we can’t get enough time or space. When ether is in balance it allows for clear, truthful expression and communication.
Correlating Chakra- Throat: sense of acceptance, truth, communication, integrity.