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Purifying the Five Elements of Our Being

Yoga is one of the most powerful ways to restore health, because it brings the five elements of our being into a harmonious relationship with each other. Knowledge of the tattwas is one of the most important keys to health and happiness.

By Dr. Swami Shankardev Saraswati

Everything in nature is made up of five basic elements: earth, water, fire, air, and space. Knowledge of the five elements allows the yogi to understand the laws of nature and to use yoga to attain greater health, power, knowledge, wisdom and happiness. This arises out of deep intuition of how the universe operates.

Knowledge of the five elements is an essential pre-requisite for more advanced yoga practice because the elements form the world we live in and the structure of our body-mind. All yoga practices work on the five elements, whether we know it or not. Knowledge of the elements (tattwas) is also the basis of yoga therapy and of Ayurveda, traditional Indian medicine. Through consciously working with the elements, we learn how to attain and maintain health and also how to consciously enjoy a long and fulfilling life based on higher awareness.

The States of Matter
Each of the five elements represents a state of matter. Earth is not just soil, but it is everything in nature that is solid. Water is everything that is liquid. Air is everything that is a gas.

Fire is that part of Nature that transforms one state of matter into another. For example, fire transforms the solid state of water (ice) into liquid water and then into its gaseous state (steam). Withdrawing fire recreates the solid state. Fire is worshipped in many yogic and Tantric rituals because it is the means by which we can purify, empower, and control the other states of matter.

Space is the mother of the other elements. The experience of space as luminous emptiness is the basis of higher spiritual experiences.

Relationships between the Elements
Each of the five elements has a certain relationship with the other elements, based on their nature. These relationships form the laws of nature. Some elements are enemies, in that each blocks the expression of the other. Fire and water, for example, will "destroy" each other if they get the chance. In order to co-exist fire and water need to be separated.. Too much fire in the body will create inflammation, while too much water can dampen fire and cause indigestion.

Some elements are said to "love" each other in that they are supportive and nurturing of each other. Earth and water love to "hug" each other, and air and fire increase each other.

Other elements are simply friendly and cooperative. For example, water and air can live together without problems, as in soda water; but when the chance occurs, they separate. The same occurs with fire and earth.

The Elements in the Body
Each element is responsible for different structures in the body. Earth forms solid structures, such as bones, flesh, skin, tissues, and hair. Water forms saliva, urine, semen, blood, and sweat. Fire forms hunger, thirst, and sleep. Air is responsible for all movement, including expansion, contraction, and suppression. Space forms physical attraction and repulsion, as well as fear.

If any element is impure or out of balance with another, disease and suffering may occur. Yoga helps us purify these elements and restore balance and health, and to unfold the inner powers and abilities contained in each element. In fact, yoga is one of the most powerful ways to restore health because it gives us the means to bring even those elements that are natural enemies into harmonious relationships with each other.

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Reader Comments

Muckman

Just recently introduced to Yoga and it's practices principles. I am finding it more intersting every step I take, including what I read in this article. I am looking forward to the next step....

Lee Canning

This is very interesting. I just began a new journey of healing and I learned much from this site!!! Thankyou.

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