Ayurveda 101: The Nature of Earth
According to the ancient life science of Ayurveda, all of creation manifests in a unique combination of the Five Great Elements: earth, air, fire, water, and space. Everything in existence can be broken down into these elemental characteristics, and this diversity determines the flow of life and how the world interacts with itself.
In Ayurveda, understanding these five elements is essential for understanding your own health and well-being. You, too, are made up of the five elements, and the way that these energies interact and counter-balance one another in your body can have a significant impact on the way that you experience life.
As part of our Ayurveda 101 series, we’ll be looking at each of the five elements, beginning with stabilizing, grounding earth.
What is the nature of earth?
Earth, or prithvi, is perhaps the easiest of the elements to understand – it’s what you can touch, taste, feel, and perceive with your five senses. Earth governs the physical presence of your body, your bones and teeth, your muscle tissue, and your fat deposits. It’s what gives you form and weight, what grounds you in the tactile environment. Earth is primal, animal, the drumbeat in the symphony of life.
In a purely tangible sense, earth is heavy, dense, slow, cold, oily, and hard.
The energy of earth
Earth is the ultimate stabilizing influence. It’s slow and quiet, cool and stable, nourishing and steadfast, just like the soil beneath our feet. Earth’s supportive and steady nature presents itself in personal characteristics like loyalty, morality, and responsibility. Healthy levels of earth can be seen in those who have strong convictions, who work hard without complaint, and who have successful long-term relationships and steady, sensible career paths.
Earth in nature
Earth energies are abundant in the late winter and early spring, the last few months of slumber before nature begins to bloom into life again. This is a period of great rest and rejuvenation, where we have an opportunity to steady ourselves and prepare for all of the excitement ahead. Fasting or other purifying rituals are excellent undertakings in spring, because just as the earth begins to soften, so do our tissues, stirring up and loosening impurities.
Bringing earth back into balance
When you’re suffering from a lack of earth, you might find yourself:
- Unstable and insecure
- Anxious and flighty
- Always cold, heavy, and easily accumulating excess weight
- Ungrounded, with your head in the clouds
- Unable to manage stress effectively
How to balance a deficiency of the earth element:
- Eat earthy foods that ground you, such as grains, nuts, and root vegetables
- Cook your fruits and vegetables, and avoid raw
- Add some stabilizing postures into your yoga routine, like Paschimottanasana, or try Kapalabhati to stimulate digestion, elimination, and detoxification
- Practice mindfulness in your daily tasks
- Recommit yourself to your responsibilities: if you’re feeling scattered, make an organized checklist to follow!
- Spend quiet time in nature
When you’re suffering from an overabundance of earth, you might find yourself:
- Dull and depressed
- Unmotivated and uninspired
- Uncomfortable from poor digestion and difficult elimination
- Hopeless and cynical
- Overeating, not at your ideal weight, or accumulating excess weight
How to balance an overabundance of earth:
- Eat light, energizing foods, especially fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables
- Avoid overeating, and drink lots of room-temperature or warm water. Try to drink half your body weight in ounces, at a rate of a half-cup every hour. Avoid copious amounts of water with meals to keep you digestive fire, your agni, strong.
- Get your blood flowing with cardiovascular exercise or a more energizing yoga routine, and focus on twisting postures to help your digestion. Padma Sadhana is a great practice for energized grounding.
- Leave your comfort zone behind and try something new and exciting!
- Have fun with creative activities like journalling, painting, or dancing
Stay tuned for more posts on the doshas, elements, and other Ayurvedic wisdom!
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The Five Elements
The Five Elements
Earth Day is April 22, so we thought it would be natural to talk about the five elements of nature. When we look at nature, there are five elements that provide the foundation for the entire physical world – space, air, fire, water and earth. Ayurveda recognizes these elements as the building blocks of all material existence.
- We nourish ourselves with foods that come from the Earth, and eventually our body returns to the earthly matter from which it came.
- Fire provides the body with heat and radiant energy, it also exists within all metabolic and chemical actions.
- Water is our life-sustaining liquid, making up more than 70 percent of our total body mass.
- Air gives movement to biological functions and feeds every cell with oxygen.
- Space provides the other elements with an opportunity to interact in the ways we just mentioned.
The Five Elements explain why substances of the natural world are harmonious with the human body. In Ayurveda, we use plants, herbs, minerals, and water because these substances are the same in composition and character to our own underlying make-up.
Want to learn even more about how you can apply Ayurveda to better your health and quality of life? Check out Ayurveda 101: Finding Vibrant Health with the Science of Life, a simple, understandable guide to this ancient science.
Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.