Guest Scribe Emily Kasman: Finding Elemental Balance
My balance, center, and authenticity have all evolved from my yoga practice. Like most western yogis, I started my practice in a studio, mostly heated to a specific temperature. I fell in love with the awareness and attention I gave my body. The stress of my corporate job and a dwindling long term relationship seemed to melt off of me. I started listening to my intuitive body and hearing what it had to say. What I was becoming, where my life was headed and why I wanted to change were all messages that I heard. The more I practiced, the more I listened, the more change happened.
Change is the only constant and is always inevitable. Practicing in a studio environment, the changes happen internally, guiding each of us to realize who we are authentically and what our dharma (life’s purpose) is. These acknowledgements are awe inspiring, however when we leave the space that is warm, surrounded by fellow yogis, four walls and a ceiling, it can be more difficult to maintain serenity.
What I have experienced is that practicing yoga outdoors helps maintain stability and a sense of interconnectedness, even when we are not practicing asana. The outside environment is ever changing, just like our daily lives, helping us to stay grounded when fire drills materialize or the wind blows you over. There are five key essentials to explore in order to stay conscious of who we are, as well as maintain a connection to our surroundings.
Earth Element: This element gives us structure, security and stability. It corresponds to our 1st chakra, Muladhara, which directs the awareness of survival and helps us meet our basic needs. Our sense of smell is related to the earth element and the function of elimination. When our bodies hold onto extra toxins, we experience bad breath and our sense of smell becomes dull. To balance this element within our bodies, use the following Mantras, Colors and Foods to bring harmony back.
Mantra: I am
Foods: Sweet tastes (ghee, dates, honey) and root vegetables
Water Element: Water makes life juicy and helps us tap into our creative, sensual and emotional qualities. The Svadisthana chakra is connected to the water element, bringing a fluid and smooth approach to our lives. Water is related to taste, and without water the tongue cannot taste, giving us an emotional bond to food. Harmonizing our water element can be stimulated by using these tools:
Mantra: I feel
Foods: Salty tastes (sea vegetables, celery, tomatoes)
Fire Element: When the fire element is present, we feel a sense of clarity and empowerment. Our vitality is strong and is capable of leading us towards deep transformation. The Manipura chakra, or navel, is associated to the fire element, giving us the “gut feeling” that we know as our internal intuitive sense. Sight is the external sense that communicates our internal warmth and motivation. If there is an imbalance of fire within your life you may feel angry, frustration or resentment. Try including these into your routine to express balance.
Mantra: I will
Foods: Bitter tastes (arugula, turmeric, aloe vera)
Air Element: You will be overflowing with love, compassion and empathy when the Air element is in its full expression. Movement will feel quick, light and gentle, making it easier to feel how robust life is. The heart chakra, Anahata, can feel more vulnerable, surfacing emotions easier, for better or worse and a hug or gentle pat on the back is the appreciation that you are looking for as the sense of touch is linked to air. When sadness and disappointment overwhelm the desires of the heart, utilize the following to help re-balance the air quality in your life.
Mantra: I love
Foods: Sour tastes (vinegar, lemon, yogurt)
Space (Ether) Element: Communication, self-expression, acceptance, expansiveness and ambiance are illuminated by the space element. These qualities connect you with your spirit and self-worth, resonating deeply with the Vishuddha chakra in the throat. Hearing beautiful languages and new sounds help you acknowledge the connection between travel and humility, both brought about by the space element. If you are having trouble expressing what is genuine to you, tap into the balancing methods below to bring your authenticity to the surface.
Mantra: I speak
Foods: Foods that are presented beautifully
Once we understand that everything contains the same elements, we create bonds differently. We see ourselves in each other, in the flame of the campfire, the swaying of the trees, ebb and flow of the waves, and the sturdiness of the ground we walk on.
Guest Scribe, Emily Kasman, is a lover of fresh air, new experiences, food made with love, the warmth of a warn-in hoodie and the coziness of a summer home (AKA: a 2 person tent), she exudes a grounded and sweet aura everywhere she goes. Understanding that nature brings a sense of liberation and joy, Emily has created many retreats that combine adventuring outdoors and practicing yoga away from the studio environment. She also believes that being out of your comfort zone is where growth happens. Taking yoga out of a studio and into the world helps us maintain our inner stability by practicing in the ever changing elements. Join her and KAF Adventures for a Mt. Rainier Yoga & Backpacking Retreat from August 18 – 23, 2013.