Article by Shannon Farley
Without water, there wouldn’t be any you, me, my cute cat sitting next to me, or the tall green trees out my window. Water is one of the most crucial elements to all life. None of what we know as life would exist without the presence of an ample liquid water supply on Earth.
As humans, in fact, we are composed mostly of water. On average, 60% of the human adult body is water, whereas infants are about 75% water.
So, it makes sense that ancient philosophies on health and spirituality teach us that understanding the five main elements of the universe – water, earth, fire, air/wind, ether/space – and their effects on our bodies can help us live a healthier, more balanced and happier life.
Yoga is intrinsically linked to the five elements. The study of water in yoga teaches your body to flow.
“The ancient tradition of yoga talks about balancing the fire and water elements, which symbolize the masculine and feminine energies and polarities. Water is the feminine principle,” explains Nancy Goodfellow, Yoga Director at Pranamar Villas in Santa Teresa, Costa Rica.
Water is considered a balancing, cooling and calming force, essential to maintain our health and longevity. It is associated with the second chakra and is the element of emotion, creativity, intuition, passion, and pleasure.
“The water element is the principle of liquidity, acceptance, receptivity and transparency. In terms of the physical body, the water element is centered in our hips and pelvis as our inner waters, sexual and reproductive organs, and elimination. Embracing the water element, we allow ourselves to flow more effortlessly with the situations in our lives. Connected strongly to our relationships, we learn to move with grace and less resistance while becoming more transparent and authentic,” Goodfellow says.
Subconsciously, we can clench our hips (like our jaws) in moments of stress, anxiety, or when we feel overwhelmed. Doing so repeatedly creates a tendency for the hips to become tight and “trap” emotions, making it more difficult for you to connect to your passions and creativity, according to The Chopra Center.
Connecting to the water element in yoga allows you to strengthen and relax your hips, release tension, and become more flexible and fluid. You can connect more easily to others, feel content and calm, let things go, be open to joy and pleasure, and express creativity.
Some of the ways The Chopra Center recommends for focusing on water in yoga are:
- Focus on deepening your stretches, as well as releasing tension and unprocessed emotions.
- Include flow (think “waves”) in your sequence.
- Include poses that target your pelvis.
- Learn breathing techniques, such as the Ujjayi breath to mimic the waves of the ocean.