“Yoga is about clearing away whatever is in us that prevents our living in the most full and whole way. With yoga, we become aware of how and where we are restricted—in body, mind, and heart—and how gradually to open and release these blockages. As these blockages are cleared, our energy is freed. We start to feel more harmonious, more at one with ourselves. Our lives begin to flow—or we begin to flow more in our lives.” Cybele Tomlinson
In Sanskrit “yoga” means a union of coming together of all sides of ourselves. At its roots, yoga is designed to remind us of our connection to nature and all of life. It is this connection that leads us towards health, peace, and the joy we all seek. In ayurveda, the sister science of yoga, health and wellness come from keeping your internal and external landscape in balance. To promote health, we use opposites to balance our imbalances.
Yogic wisdom teaches that each of us contain the entire universe within ourselves. The Five Great Elements—Pancha Mahabhutas (Ether, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth) are the dynamic forces of nature that interact to create the universe we inhabit and through which we can seek to balance our imbalances. You can use the principles of the five elements to create outer harmony and inner peace, quickly returning to your center no matter what storms blow through your life. By balancing your own system, you assist the entire universe in re-balancing itself.
The winter and spring may tend to leave you a little ungrounded with the colder temperatures and high winds. As the seasons change to warm and moist, we can benefit from connecting with nature. With our feet on the ground (rather than in snow boots), it’s time to reconnect with Earth (Prithvi), to ground and stabilize the body and mind. Water brings us back in the flow of life and integrates emotions to liberate our creative energies and intuition.
This summer, bring the journey full circle to integrate all five elements into wholeness and realize the integrity of your being. Drink in your surroundings with “forest bathing.” Even if you spend the majority of your days in an urban environment, stop under a tree, visit a nearby botanical gardens. Find some green and drink it in.
The fire of the sun warms our core and energizes our spirits. Fire (Agni) supports our power to transform patterns of limitation into your greatest strengths. Through the element of Air (Vayu) you can learn to tune into your subtle energy, open your heart, and clear stress from your mind. Through cultivating an ever-increasing awareness through powerful yet subtle practices one can connect with Ether-Space (Akasha).
Take a moment to connect with earth. First sit and connect with your environment. Close your eyes and tap in. Begin to listen to the sounds around you (air, ether), feel the sun on your skin (fire), the wind through your hair (air). Possibly lay on the ground and look at your surroundings from a new perspective.
Standing in mountain pose, stand tall and lengthen your spine. Imagine your feet rooting down into the earth as the top of your head reaches towards the heavens. Three times, draw the energy up from the earth up through the back of your body to the top of your head and down the front. Repeat three times in the opposite direction up front, down the back.
Salute the Sun. Reach your arms to the sky, then bend and touch the earth. Step back to a plank pose and fire up your core and lower to the earth. Then lift your torso up as if you were a cobra and open your heart. Lower down and connect with the earth.
Learning how to discover and dissolve imbalances can help us experience alignment in body, heart, mind, and soul. When these energies are in balance, we experience health, and well-being. When they are out of balance, an array of physical, emotional, and spiritual disharmony can result.
Yoga teacher and outdoor enthusiast, Leslie Ross has always been inspired to share her passions for community, wellness, and the outdoors with others through her path of health, wellness, and outdoor education. Long time Summit County resident, Leslie was a founder and now former owner of both Meta Yoga Studios and Babes in the Backcountry. She studies and teaches Tantric Hatha Yoga in the Sri Vidya Lineage and is a E-RYT 500 Yoga Instructor, Holy Fire II Karuna Reiki Master, mountain wedding officiant, closet artist, and Hala SUP Yoga Ambassador.