According to yogic philosophy as listed in the Taitiriya Upanishad, each human being has 5 koshas, or layers of being, that encase the soul, layer by layer. These sheaths encase, interact, & interpenetrate each other. In order to achieve harmonic homeostasis, what yogi’s refer to as spiritual enlightenment, all 5 sheaths must be in syncopated balance & supporting one another fully without gap, interruption, or conflict. In our practice, we approach through the 5 natural elements of earth, water, fire, air, & space, with each element corresponding to a kosha:
In gratitude, humility, and humbleness, we’ve organized our practice of the 8 limbs of yoga, as listed in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, within the 5 natural elements of earth, water, fire, air, & space.
A balanced earth element allows you to feel solidity in connection with yourself & your surroundings. When in balance, you may feel safe, grounded, resilient, & confident. Anatomically, the root chakra is located at the base of the spine. We engage the perineum to activate root energy, or mula bandha, which prevents the downward escape of energy. A deficit in this chakra occurs when we do not feel grounded. An overly active root chakra occurs when we feel too heavy, or lethargic. In order to balance this chakra, we practice grounding through the bottoms our feet or by allowing our entire body to touch the earth through yoga postures such as mountain, corpse, & child’s. By integrating ties from our ropes practice that focus on the feet or entire body, such as the heel tie, or full-body harness, we are able to further emphasize this connection. Here, we come into our bodies as we notice the interplay of the three gunas in all experience & postures of Asana.
A balanced water element allows you to feel creative, fluid, calm, & open to experience joy. Anatomically, it is located in the pelvic region of your body. A deficit in the sacral chakra occurs when we have low passion, energy, or libido. An overly active sacral chakra occurs when we feel overly sexual or emotional. In order to balance this chakra, we practice hip-focused postures such as butterfly, low-lunge, & pigeon. By integrating pelvic-focused ties such as the simple hip harness we are able to further emphasize this connection. Here, we examine the power of the breath to explore our sensual & sexual selves as it relates to our Pranayama practice.
A balanced fire element allows you to feel strong & powerful. Anatomically, it is located deep within your abdomen. A deficit in the solar plexus chakra occurs when we have low confidence, depression, feel withdrawn, or carry shame. An overly active solar plexus chakra occurs when we are overly confident, aggressive, or angry. In order to balance this chakra, we practice hot yoga flows & core-focused postures such as twists, plank, boat, & chair. By integrating abdomen-focused ties such as the hishi karada, we are able to further emphasize this connection. Here, we bust through the bullshit that so readily attaches itself to our thoughts & emotions as it relates to our Pratyahara practice.
A balanced air element allows you to experience mental agility with feelings of lightness & compassion. Anatomically, it is located in the center of your chest, just over the sternum. Energetically, it is associated with uddiyana bandha, or “upward lifting” lock, which encourages loving feelings of lightness & compassion. A deficit in the heart chakra occurs when we feel lonely, unloved, unfocused, or unproductive. An overly active heart chakra occurs when we are carried away by racing thoughts, or feel overly attached. In order to balance this chakra, we emphasize the power of the hearth through chest-focused postures such as cobra, bridge, & bow. By integrating chest-focused ties such as the star harness, we are able to further emphasize this connection. Here, we begin to practice our rope floorwork as it relates to Dharana & Dhyana.
A balanced space element allows you to feel nourished & connected by & with the world & those around you while freely communicating & expressing yourself. Anatomically, it is located in your neck. We contract the throat by engaging jalandhara bandha, or “chin lock”, which may reduce stress & anxiety. A deficit in the throat chakra occurs when we feel isolated, misunderstood, or are have difficulties expressing ourselves. An overly active throat chakra occurs when we have difficulty listening to others or interrupt when someone else is talking. Within the space element, we overcome our perceived duality & associated fears through arm balance postures. By integrating arm & hand focused ties such as the prayer tie or server’s hand, we are able to further emphasize this connection. Here, we bring it all together & practice our rope suspension as it relates to the practice of Samadhi.