AYURVEDA • FIVE ELEMENTS • LIFE
R.R. Shakti, PhD
Āyurveda is a system of wellness deeply rooted in nature.
It recognizes that humanity is created from, exists within, and eventually returns to the elements.
Āyurveda is a Vedic science that has been practiced for thousands of years for the sake of holistic wellness. The system of Āyurveda recognizes that the key to good health is balance at all levels of being. It employs mindful dietary considerations, yoga āsana (postures), prānāyāma (breathing practices), herbs, and meditation for optimal health. It seeks to cleanse the body of toxins and eliminate excess inflammation.
AYURVEDA & THE FIVE ELEMENTS
Āyurveda views everything as comprised of the pancha mahābhūtas (five basic elements): earth, water, fire, air and space. These are the building blocks for the qualities of your mind, body, and environment.
Ākāsha is space: the place where everything happens;
the starting point from which all the other elements unfold.
Space does not possess the weight of earth, the moisture of water, the light or heat of fire, nor the movement of wind. The qualities of ākāsha are light, still, fine, cold, dark, smooth, and soft. Ākāsha lives in your heart/mind as openness and bliss.
Vāyu is air & wind. It is the power of movement, the potential for creative action. Air does not possess the weight of earth, the moisture of water, the light or heat of fire, nor the smooth, refined stillness of space. The qualities of vāyu include agile, active, cold, light, dry, rough and expansive.These qualities show up in your body and mind as movement such as gas and neural activity: creativity & imagination.
Agni is the principle of fire. It is the power of transformation. It provides clarity and illumination. Fire does not possess the weight of earth, the moisture of water, the cold of air, or stillness of space. The qualities of agni include hot, sharp, clear, fine, light, dry and upward-moving. These qualities show up in your body as heat and digestion, bright eyes and mental clarity. Psychodynamic qualities of fire include joy & compassion, intelligence, humor, warmth and ambition.
Jala is the element: water. It is nourishment, healing, growth and integration. Water does not possess the dryness of space or wind. It is not rough like the earth …nor does it contain the heat or light of fire. The qualities of jala include cold, soft, liquid, oily, slimy, agile, lubricating, and heavy. These qualities manifest as all the fluid in your body: blood, mucus, sweat, etc. As a mental construct, it means going with the flow. It allows you to feel nourished, content, and self-contained.
Pṛthvī means earth. The earth is the stable foundation from which all things grow. The earth contains all things within it.
Space, air, water and fire are all held within the confines of the earth. But earth has its own distinct qualities: heavy, hard, course, rough, solid, compact and slow. Earth invites you to be steadfast & grounded–confident, but also adaptable.
AYURVEDA & THE THREE DOSHA
In the physical body, the five elements combine to form the three dosha: VATA, KAPHA & PITTA. According to Ayurveda, these three dosha are the bio-energetic conditions that influence your overall wellness.