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5 Elements of Yoga: Nourishing with Water Element

Happiness | Lifestyle

Have you ever thought about what nourishment really is? Certainly in the food you eat, but also beyond that…what produces that quality of deep satisfaction and satiation for you?

What is it that helps you feel that you are and that you have “enough”?

Water Element and Ayurveda

According to Ayurveda, we derive nourishment from water element. Water element is the principle of cohesion.

In the body, this emerges as nourishment, growth, and lubrication. Water element cools, moistens, adheres, soothes, softens, smoothes, dulls and spreads.

Yantra representation for the Water element, by Susan Fauman Yantra representation for the Water element, by Susan Fauman

Water element also regulates lubrication and connection, protecting the body and mind from the destructive nature of wind and fire elements. When we express free-flowing water element, we connect easily to others. Emotionally we feel content, express ourselves calmly and smoothly, and allow things to “roll off our back.”

Water element governs the hips, so when our connection to water element falters, our hips can be weak or very tight.

In my last post, I offered three poses for stabilizing with earth element. The sequence below could be used on its own or mixed in with the three earth element postures to create a sequence which awakens both earth and water — invoking a sense of calm, rooted “enough-ness”.

One more ingredient will really super-charge this practice. Evoke an attitude, or “bhava,” of contentedness. Move slowly and breathe deeply through these postures to invite a sense of rich connection to your experience. Here are three poses for connecting with water element.

1. Striking Cobra (Shashank Bhujangasana)

This pose works very well following Shashankasana, which I explained in my last post.

5 Elements of Yoga- Nourishing with Water Element -- child's poseKneeling, inhale and lift your arms, and then exhale and bow all the way forward into an extended Child’s Pose. Press your palms into the floor and then inhale, raising your torso up, parallel to the floor. Bring your shoulders forward and exhale, lowering your belly to the mat.

5 Elements of Yoga- Nourishing with Water Element -- cobraTrying to keep your palms where they are, inhale and lift your head and shoulders into a low cobra pose, pressing your pubic bone into the floor. Exhale, lower your chest and face toward the mat.

5 Elements of Yoga- Nourishing with Water Element -- table topInhaling, lift your torso back up to a table-top position, trying to engage with your abdominals to lift you. Exhale and lower your hips back towards your heels to come back to Child’s Pose.

Try to avoid spreading your elbows out to the sides, but also don’t keep them pinned to your ribs. Find a natural-feeling position for the arms. Once you have the hang of the movement, you can try to take only 1 breath per repetition instead of 2—inhaling as you come forward and exhaling as you come back.

Benefits: This posture helps to awaken the energy of creativity and vitality of the 2nd chakra (the “home” of water element) and spread it throughout the body. Repeat 8-20 times.

2. Tiger Pose (Vyagrasana)

5 Elements of Yoga- Nourishing with Water Element--tiger exhaleLifting up to hands and knees, make sure your knees are directly under your hips and your shoulders stack over your palms. Exhaling, lift your right knee and bring it forward, while bringing your nose back towards your knee and curving your back.

5 Elements of Yoga- Nourishing with Water Element--tiger inhaleInhaling, lift your leg back and up — keeping your toes pointed and your knee bent—while lifting your head and looking upwards, arching your back. Imagine a circuit opening between your toes and the top of your head.

Continue moving slowly and with control for a few repetitions, then move more quickly, allowing the movement to be more free and relaxed. Repeat 8-20 times with each leg.

Benefits: This posture frees up tension in the hips and sacrum while evoking the round, fluid motion of water element.

3. Pigeon Pose (Eka-Pada Rajakapotasana)

This pose follows Animal Pose from the earth element sequence beautifully. From a sitting position, bring your right knee forward and lay the outside of your thigh and hip against the floor.

5 Elements of Yoga- Nourishing with Water Element--pigeon upScoot your left leg behind you towards a straight position (as much as you comfortably can). But — this is important — don’t allow your right hip to lift off of the floor. When you do that, it transfers the weight of your torso into your knee, creating a torsion effect that, over time, will damage the knee.

With your palms pressed into the floor or into the inside of your right knee and right ankle, lift your chest and inhale deeply. Spend a while here, filling your body with your breath and releasing holding in the hip joint with each exhalation.

If you need to turn down the intensity of the pose, bring your right heel closer to your groin.

5 Elements of Yoga- Nourishing with Water Element--pigeon foldIf you would like to go deeper into your sensation, inhale deeply, and with the next exhalation, fold your torso forward. Continue breathing deeply and melting the tension in the hip.

Benefits: This posture releases stored-up hip tension, which may also liberate stored-up, unprocessed emotion. Stay with it and breathe deeply, letting yourself feel what comes up without trying to make meaning from it.

With water element, the well runs deep. Adding these postures into your practice will help you release old emotional scars and welcome in deep nourishment and contentment. What are some of the ways you nourish yourself?

Images Courtesy of: Susan Fauman

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