Yoga for the 4 Elements

April 9, 2018 4:52 am Published by

Fire, water, earth, and air are the four elements of the Universe. They make up all that is, everything we see around us, and everything we are.

None of them are either good or bad, and they each have specific, different properties.

Fire, associated with your solar plexus chakra, is connected with passion and inspiration. Water, associated with your sacral chakra, is all about emotion and intuition. Air, associated with your heart and throat chakras, is about communication. Earth, associated with your root chakra, is connected with grounding and stability.

There are many different ways to connect with and balance the four elements in your body and life: eating certain foods, meditation, visualization, spending time with the elements in nature, such as the ocean, connecting with crystals associated with each element, and more.

But one of my favorite ways to connect with the elements is through using yoga.

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There are two ways to use yoga for the elements:

1. To create more of an element you desire.

  • For example, if you want to feel more grounded you’ll want to connect with the Earth. If you want to stimulate your creativity or get out of your comfort zone, you’ll want to connect with fire.

2. To balance an element you feel you have too much of.

  • For example, if you’re feeling overly emotional, you may want to balance the water element by working with its opposite, fire. If you’re feeling materialistic or too stuck in your ways you’ll want to balance the Earth element by working with its opposite, air.

Scroll down to get ideas for different styles of yoga, poses, and some breath work to connect with each of the four elements of the universe.

Yoga for Fire

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To connect with the element of fire, you’ll want to do a power or vinyasa style yoga flow focused on stimulating your core, where your solar plexus resides.

Suraya Namaskar. For a fire practice, you’ll want to start off with a series of sun salutations. There are several different variations, but I recommend this one:

  • Mountain pose at the top of your mat
  • Arms lifted over head
  • Hand to foot pose
  • High lunge on your left side
  • Plank pose
  • Chaturanga
  • Upward-facing dog
  • Downward-facing dog
  • High lunge on your right side
  • Hand to foot pose
  • Arms lifted over head
  • Mountain pose

That’s one sequence. Do as many as you’d like! And remember that you can always modify your high lunge by lowering your back knee for a less intense version.

Plank pose. Nothing lights a fire in your belly like plank pose. Try keeping a slight microbend in your elbow and lifting from the back of your heart space so you really get into your belly.

Boat pose. There are two variations you can take: knees bent (gentler) or legs straight. Try starting with your knees bent and then straighten your legs after a few breaths if you feel strong and steady.

Chair pose. In this pose, tuck your tailbone and really focus on your core. Bring your awareness to those muscles, and see how the posture changes for you. If you feel like adding a little detoxifying in, take a twisted chair variation.

Agni Sara pranayama. You’ll look weird, but you’ll literally feel yourself getting hot. Start in a standing position with your knees gently bent and your hands on your knees. As you inhale, fill your belly with breath. As you exhale, draw in you lower and upper core muscles, hollowing out your stomach.

Yoga for Water

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A hip-opening slow flow style yoga practice will connect you with the element of water. As you move through each pose, imagine that you are moving through water. What would that feel like? What would that look like?

Low crescent lunge. Keep your back knee lowered to keep this pose a little more gentle, and work on finding a little more balance in your hips. If you’re lunging on the left side, try pulling your left hip back and right hip forward to get you there.

Incorporating a mudra into this pose can be really nice, too. Try flowing through Padma, or Lotus, mudra by bringing your hands to lotus mudra at heart center, inhaling to lift your hands overhead, and exhaling to cascade your arms down and back to your heart center.

Lizard pose. Time to really get into the hips. Be gentle with your body here and use props like blocks or a bolster as needed! Ask yourself: what do I need to feel good in this pose? And listen to your body’s wisdom.

Child’s pose into cobra flow. Start in child’s pose with your legs parallel instead of knees wide. As you inhale, shift all the way forward onto your belly and into cobra pose. Your exhale brings you back to child’s pose. Keep flowing with your breath, trying to move as slowly and mindfully as possible.

Wide-legged forward fold. Start standing with your legs wide and hangs to hips. Inhale to open your chest, and exhale to fold, releasing your palms to your mat, ankles, or to a yogi toe hold. After a few breaths here, you might like to add in a side body stretch by walking both hands to the left side of your mat, and then to the right side.

Reclining cobbler’s pose. Bring one palm to heart and one palm to belly, and visualize your breath flowing up and down your spine like water with each inhale and exhale. Connect with your heart space and notice any places that your breath feels shallow or stuck. See if you can make your breath deep, smooth, and fluid.

Yoga for Earth

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A grounding yin yoga practice will connect you with the Earth. As you settle in each pose, notice the Earth below you. Notice how it grounds you, supports you, and nurtures you. Spend at least five minutes in each of these poses, connecting with your breath.

Malasana seated on a block. As you sit in yogi squat with your palms at heart center, visualize your breath running all the way down your spine and out your tailbone, grounding you and rooting you to the Earth a little bit deeper with each inhale.

Caterpillar pose. Place a block on your thighs at whatever height you need to allow your body to completely relax and round forward over your legs. Instead of trying to stretch your hands to meet your feet, let them fall to your sides wherever they naturally do.

Half frog variation on belly. This is one of my favorite poses. Lying on your belly, turn onto your right cheek and stretch your arms out to a T. Bend your left knee and open your hip out to your left side. Take five minutes on this side, and then switch to your right side.

Thread the needle. Try to completely relax through the hips, spine, and shoulders here as you rest on your shoulder and head. For the gentlest variation, walk your other arm out in front of you and release it completely to your mat. You also have the option to wrap that arm around low back for a gentle bind. Just find what feels good for you, and return to your breath.

Seated straddle. Sit up on a block for extra support as you take your legs wide. First turn your torso to your left leg and round your spine over that leg, bringing your forehead to a block or to your knee. Then turn to your right leg, and then walk your palms out in front of you and round in the center.

Yoga for Air

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A heart-opening, throat-opening hatha flow style yoga practice will connect you with the element of Air. As you move through these poses, visualize green light beaming out of your heart chakra, opening you up to a flow of unconditional love, and blue light beaming out of your throat chakra, opening you up to speak your truth freely.

Camel pose. Camel pose opens up both of these chakras beautifully when you allow your neck to drop back. Focus on pressing your pelvis forward and opening the front side of your body rather than bending your back body. Breathe into your heart space, and see that green wheel of energy softening, opening, and expanding.

Bow pose. Bow pose opens both your throat and your heart chakras as well. Notice how your breath sinks you lower onto your mat with each inhale, and takes you deeper into the pose with each exhale.

Upward-facing dog. Open your throat chakra with upward-facing dog. You can try it as part of a flow from plank to chaturanga to upward-facing dog to downward-facing dog to really connect with the element of air.

Heart bench. Set up your blocks on whatever setting feels best for you, and make the block supporting your head lower than the block running along your spine for extra throat chakra opening.

Plow pose. Skip this one if you have any back or neck problems. But if not, it’s a beautiful opener for your throat, heart, and solar plexus (bonus!) chakras. Start with the legs straight behind you (and if you can’t reach your toes to the floor, try reaching them to a chair or another piece of furniture behind you), and feel free to bend your legs around your head as you get deeper into the pose.

Which element do you need to balance or call in more of right now?

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About Eryn Johnson

Eryn is a mystic and seeker currently based in Philadelphia. She teaches yoga, reads tarot, does reiki energy healing, and loves to write. She is also the host of the Living Open podcast, and if she’s not teaching yoga or reading tarot you can probably find her in a crystal shop, buying plane tickets, or googling someone’s birth chart. Follow along with her adventures on Instagram at @erynj_ and at www.living-open.com.




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