How to Apply the 5 Elements of Ayurveda to Better Your Life
What Are the 5 Elements Used For?
In order to understand what the five ayurveda elements are and used for, you need to understand what ayurveda is and how it’s used. Ayurveda translates to “science of life” and is an ancient 5,000 year old Hindu philosophy. This philosophy views humans as an interplay of the five elements (air, ether, water, fire, earth).Each individual has unique combination of these five elements. There isn’t an exact number system used to measure an individual. It’s more of an art. Ayurveda is more like psychology than science in this aspect. Like those who practice gestalt psychology, those who practice ayurveda see a person as a whole organized by the sum of their parts. You need to get know a person to figure out how those parts interplay. In essence, the five elements are used to articulate a person’s Ayurvedic placements in order to understand them and treat them.
“He who is rich in the knowledge of the Self does not covet external power or possession.”
― Paramananda, The Upanishads
What Are the 5 Elements of Ayurveda?
Ether is the first one of the great elements. This element is often referred to as “space” or “emptiness”. Because ether is empty space, it is known as the element that other fill. The ear and the mouth are associated with this element. However, all empty spaces in our body are connected with the ether element.
Air represents oxygen, breath, motion, and lightness. This element is present in the respiratory system and nerves. It is also the second of the five elements since air has a close relationship with ether.
Fire is the third of the great elements. It’s related to ether because it provides it with the space to burn. It’s also related to air because it provides the fire’s fuel. Fire is closely associated with the eyes and the body’s heat. Fire is also associated with thoughts, emotions, and obsessions.
Water is the fourth great element. It’s associated with fire, ether, and air. Water is the protector of the body. The tongue is associated with water element. Water is expressed in the body in five distinct ways: saliva, stomach, the nerves, the joints, and the respiratory system. It’s also associated with blood.
Earth is the last of all the elements because it evolves from the last four. It also contains these elements within it. This element is heavily associated with our sense of smell, bones, nails, and teeth.
What Happens When These 5 Elements Are Not In Harmony?
Several things happen when the 5 elements are not in harmony. However, to better understand how they function, let’s look at what each individual element causes when in disharmony.
How Can You Keep Your Elemental Ayurvedic Energy in Harmony?
|Ether||Consuming foods with bitter taste is an excellent way to restore harmony. However, don’t over consume. This can lead to problems with too much space.|
|Air||Like ether, consuming foods with a bitter taste keeps air in a harmonious state. Eating heavy foods also keeps air stable. Control of air is achieved by having steady routines, too.|
|Fire||In order to restore balance to the fire element, you must keep your digestive system healthy. This means eating spicy, hot, sour, and salty foods. It’s best to eat sour food like yogurt and pickled food.|
|Water||Foods that are sweet are the main source of energy for water. Cooked grains, non-fermented dairy, oils nuts, and fatty foods are also plentiful in water energy.|
|Earth||The earth element is connected to all food. However, nuts, legumes, grains, and meats share the strongest bond with the earth element. It’s found in a moderate amount in diary, vegetables, fruit, and spices.|
Understanding the Doshas
“Know Thyself” —Socrates
These elements are combined into what is called the doshas. Each person has the three doshas. They determine a person’s personality and physiology. There is the Vata dosha (Air and Ether), Pitta dosha (Fire and Water), and the Kapha dosha (Water and Earth). Everyone has a combination of these three doshas. However, every person has a different dosha that makes up most of their personality and physiology.
|Vata Dosha (Air and Ether)||People who have this dosha are light, thin, and tall. Fear, eating too much, and anxiety can destabilize people who have this dosha.|
|Pitta Dosha (Fire and Water)||People with this dosha tend to be muscular, warm, outgoing, and great leaders. When they are out of balance they can be angry and suffer from high blood pressure, heart problems, and inflammatory disorders.|
|Kapha Dosha (Water and Earth)||People with this dosha tend to have heavier builds and are calm, loving, and forgiving. When out of balance they can be possessive and greedy. They tend to suffer from obesity and from respiratory problems.|
How to Apply the Five Elements to Your Life
To apply these ayurvedic teachings effectively, you need to know what your elemental constitution. This is also termed the Prakriti. There are several online questionnaires you can use to find out what your Prakriti structure is. There are also ayurveda podcasts that can guide you on your journey of self discovery. If you want to apply these teachings even further, it’s recommended you find Ayurvedic practitioner to increase your knowledge of your ayurvedic self. However, there are some self care tips you can use to keep your doshas in balance:
- Begin each day in a calm way. Yoga and meditation can help achieve this
- Cleanse your body and mind with water
- Center your fire element by creating goals for the day
- Use breathing exercises to help center your air element
- Appreciate the ether element by accepting the unseen spaces in your life
It’s important to closely study the elements in yourself in order to get an accurate picture of your Prakriti. Working with a teacher is a great way to do this. If you decide to go on this self care journey, you will need to figure out your Prakriti through trial and error. However, if you’re serious and committed about knowing your real self, your journey will be easy.