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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.

Physiologically, the five elements function as three bio-dynamic forces, called vata, pitta, and kapha.

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