Up to 60% of our bodies are water and it is present in all our tissues. And yet, it is incredibly easy to lose a sense of our fluid and buoyant selves in a world that is dominated by grids with straight lines and right angles. In Ayurveda, the water element is jala, it both nourishes and purifies our being, just as water does in all the rest of Nature.
In our asana practice, embracing the water element serves to transform stiffness of both our bodies AND our minds. In being physiologically rhythmic like water, we embrace impermanence as one pose dissolves seamlessly into the next. In focusing on the transitions between poses, our awareness embraces that tidal quality that equanimity requires.
To invoke the water element in your practice, embody shapes with curving, not straight lines, side bends, fluid twists and seamless transitions between poses, meaning, you don’t feel a hard stop between poses and very little holding of a single pose. We liquefy the solid qualities of held postures by staying in constant smooth and gentle motion in synch with breath.
In honoring the water and fluid power within us, we support greater awareness of the water around us and how essential it is for sustaining life. Specifically, over 844 million people globally lack access to basic drinking water servicesand 1.8 billion people (25% of the world population) lack reliable access to water for adequate sanitation.
It’s empowering though, that we have capabilities to reflect on our own purchasing habits (svadhyaya; self-study) and can choose companies that support global water needs. Some conscious companies, like LifeStraw, see the importance of not only providing products that cut down on single-use plastic waste, enabling you to have safe drinking water wherever you go, but also see the importance of giving back and providing safe drinking water to communities with limited or no safe drinking water access. For every product they sell, LifeStraw provides safe drinking water to a school child in need for an entire year. To learn more about their efforts and get involved, see LifeStraw Doing Good.