The five elements—earth, water, fire, air, and ether—are foundational to understanding how yoga affects our life and our health. An asana practice focusing on “earth” need not necessarily be strenuous but can “ground” us in awakening to what brings us into stability, nourishment, connection, patience, and sustenance.
Of the five elements, earth is the most “gross” or “material." It is the element we tend to be the most familiar with, as it is present in everything that has form or “matter."
Here is an easy-to-follow flow designed to help you focus on the benefits of an earth element practice while still embracing all aspects of life—even the ungrounded parts. Stay tuned for more elemental yoga routines in the coming weeks.
1. Prayer Pose (Pranamasasa)
Stand at the top of your mat (if you're using one) with your hands together and thumbs touching your brow. Bow the head slightly, offering an intention to practice in a way that brings forth what “matters” in your life into “matter," or form, in your life. Set the intention to ground and root into what is most important and sustaining in your life. Exhale to seal this intention.
2. Rooted Raised Arm Pose (Hasta Uthanasana)
Raise your arms, rooting down through your feet and arcing back slightly, offering your intention to the sky, and inhaling to open yourself to whatever comes into fruition though your practice and through this day.
3. Horizon Gazing Pose (Sandhi Locakasana)
Exhale and lower yourself to a forward fold, and then inhale and gaze out over the horizon. Again, bring “what matters” into your mind as a way in which to focus on making manifest what you desire in all the forms of your life: your body, your home, your personal life, and your work life.
4. Equestrian Pose (Asha Sanchalanasana)
Step your right foot back into a lunge while keeping your hips in agreement and your low belly gently lifted. As you send your tailbone downward, reach your arms toward the earth, heart space open and eyes and throat lifted to the sky. Take a generous inhale.
5. Classical Mountain Pose (Parvatasana)
Step your left foot back to what is classically called Parvatasana. This is much like a downward-facing dog, but the distance between hands and feet is slightly shorter, allowing you to stay here for much longer, embodying the characteristics of a mountain: steady, stable, and patient. Stay here for five long breaths, focusing your attention on the exhale as you root equally down through your feet and hands on the earth.
6. Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
Slowly allow the body to hover forward and release the body down to the earth, and then raise the chest upward into cobra pose. Elbows remain snug to the side and low belly lifts as you root down through your lower body to the earth and raise your cobra “hood” outward toward the horizon. Inhale deeply here. Return to classical mountain pose and equestrian pose with the right foot stepping forward.
7. Low Standing Pose (Adhahstha Samsthitasana)
Step your left foot up to join your right and shift your weight back as you lower down to your tippy toes, thighs parallel to the earth and upper body positioned as it would in an upright standing position. Take 1 full breath here.
8. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Rise to standing with spine remaining vertical, inhaling and reaching up into rooted raised arm pose. Complete the series with an exhale, with hands at heart center. Root down through your feet, feeling the stability of the earth beneath you.
Take a few moments here to ground yourself and your intention on you breath. Use the exhale to again seal your intention and look out over the horizon. Breathe deeply with an intentional focus upon your exhale, grounding down through your base and allowing the intention of this potent, concentrated flow to settle down into your bones.