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The 5 Great Elements

Pancha Maha Bhutas

This month in class we are looking at the five great elements, known in yoga as “Pancha Maha Bhutas”.  These elements are said to be present in everything in the universe including the human body.  They are the basis of cosmic creation.  They have different characteristics and account for different facets of human experience.  So, what are these elements and how do they relate to the body?

Prithvi – Earth
The element of earth is responsible for giving structure, shape and strength to the body.  It relates to parts of the body that show shape, eg  bones, muscles, teeth and nails. Its qualities are heavy, dull, dense, hard and gross.

Jala – Water
When we think of the qualities of water we think of liquidity, fluidity, coolness, softness or even sliminess.  This element is a constructive force.  It has a binding nature which helps form the different structures of the body.

Tej – Fire
The element of fire is responsible for transformation.  Transformation in the body is carried out by digestion, where food is turned into energy/waste; the transformation of thoughts and the perception of light and intelligence.  It is traditionally known as Agni, the fire of the belly.

Vayu – Air
Air allows the sense of movement of any kind in the body.  Movement is initiated or directed by air. Its characteristics are mobile, dry, light, cold and subtle in nature.  Air is felt by the skin as we move with grace and ease.

Akasha – Ether
Akasha in Sanskrit means having a cavity with freedom to move.  Words like space or vast openness come to mind.  It relates to actions of expansion, vibration and non-resistance in the body.

Our practice will include all these elements, leaving us feeling grounded yet light, energised yet cool and full of space, providing us with the tools to accept life’s challenges with ease and grace.

The 5 Great Elements

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