The five elements – earth, water, fire, air, ether – are the manifestations of the vibrations of our own consciousness in their most physical form. When we understand them as a part of us, we can create greater harmony and balance. The elements are a gateway to experiencing more freedom and pleasure in life. This article explores the many ways to feel and experience the air element, and its connection to our mind, body and spirit.
Prana, the life-force energy that animates all living things, is said to move around the body via a series of forces called “winds” or vayu. Vayu literally translates to air in Sanskrit. Between the air we breathe and the pranic forces that are in it, air has a strong effect on the vitality of our body. It is known for being mobile, dry, rarefied, and light, and it is associated with electrical energy and the human nervous system.
When the elements get expressed in our innate temperaments, they are known as our Doshas. We all have a mixture of the elements present inside of us at birth. Besides what we are born with, our lifestyles also influence our Dosha. There are three Doshas – Pitta, Kapha and Vata. The air element is the most present in the Vata Dosha. People who are Vata Dosha dominant tend to be more slender and dry. They are good at multi-tasking and movement. Their challenge is to learn how to ground. When Vatas are out of balance it is experienced as body pain, aches and anxiety.
The Kosha, or subtle layer/dimension of our being, that is connected the most to air is our intuitive mind. This layer, known as the Vijnanamaya Kosha, is our wisdom body and is uplifted by meditation and deep contemplation. The goal of yoga is to make the Koshas more porous and transparent, and thus to integrate mind, body and spirit.
The chakra that is related to the air element is the Anahata chakra. Anahata is the name of the heart chakra, located in the center of the chest. When this chakra is open and resonating in a harmonious way, love, compassion and self-acceptance are present in us. When this chakra is closed it is expressed as inappropriate emotional behaviors, poor emotional boundaries, ruthlessness or an inability to feel emotions. Many of us are most present with this chakra when we feel an abundance of love or a loss of love. At both of these times, there can be a strong sensation in the chest; we may feel open and expanded or closed and contracted.
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