Yoga for Trauma Artwork
Season 3 - Episode 5

Embodying the Five Elements

35 min - Practice


When the 5 elements are in balance, internally and externally, things groove. Kyra guides us through a practice to connect us to and harmonize the 5 natural elements, bringing a sense of wellbeing from inside out. We move through graceful arm and leg sweeps, stepping into and out of familiar poses to play with balance, hip openers, gentle back bends, and core warming to experience Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Space in our movements, improving ventral vagal tone and heart rate variability. You will feel present, balanced, and connected.
What You'll Need: Blanket


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Hi, everyone. Welcome to this practice. This practice is designed to connect us to the five elements. Yoga and its sister science, Arya Veda, has the suggestion that everything in the material world is made up of these five elements, right? The outside world as well as ourselves in our nervous system. So the five elements being prithavi or earth, gel, water, fire or ugni, vayu, air, and the akasha in space. In this practice, I want you to consider your relationship to these five elements, how it might be showing up within you, what your relationship is in the outside world, what you're seeing, being in balance and not in balance. Because when we can start to harmonize these elements, we experience that within ourselves and that improves ventral vagal tone. If you haven't listened to the talk yet on social engagement, consider that. It also improves heart rate variability and a sense of health and well-being from inside out. So as you're ready, we're going to take a moment to just connect into the land that you are on. Wherever you are, whether you're inside or outside, take a moment to just orient to the space that you're in. Notice the temperature. What is it you're seeing? There's pods of dolphins behind me, which is amazing. And also just the land and the floorboards that you're on and what earth it's connected to. Do you know maybe the indigenous name of the land that you're on? I'm here right now in the central coast of California on Chumash land. I'm just taking a moment to acknowledge that. If you're not sure what land you're on, you can always look that up after the practice. Let's see if you can now just soften the feet, spread the toes. Yeah. Notice it. Releasing any extra tension that isn't needed at this moment. When you're ready, we're actually going to step the feet closer together. Sometimes we soften first in order to have more awareness of the structure and the tension. So we're going to make conscious tension now, coming into the earth element of the bones and the muscles. I want you to squeeze everything in, not to the point where you've heard anything, but just where you feel the connection for four, three, squeeze the belly, the face to one and then release. Do that one more time. Just squeeze everything and make everything really tight for five, four, three. Don't hold the breath though. Two, one. And as you release, let yourself actually soften even more at the bottom of the exhale. Maybe melting a little bit towards earth. Maybe melting a little bit towards the idea of where your center is. And then once you feel the connection down, press away from that. Allow yourself to elongate through the crown of the head. And then one more time, just melting in towards the idea of a center or softening towards earth. And then a press, feeling the stability to press up and away. Notice if you can find a midline from that or a middle ground, not reaching beyond your center or not melted beyond the center. We're going to take this sense of middle stability with us as we step to the front, short edge of the mat. Feet either hip distance, together, wide or apart. Allowing the knees to bend and the arms to float forward. Come on back up. Maybe consider using your heels. And again, down. And notice if it feels more settling to close the eyes or keep them open as you do this. Where do you find steadiness in this moment? We're going to now go in the opposite direction. Lift up to the balls of the toes, touch the arms and try to touch your opposite shoulder without letting the head go too far forward and back down. We'll do that one more time. Switch the arm cross now and lower down.

There's a little softening behind the knees. Now we're going to shift the weight over to one side. I'm shifting it to my right side. And then we'll lift the left knee. Place it down. I imagine kind of walking through, I don't know, walking through clouds, walking through mud, I suppose, if we're on earth. This time lift the opposite arm as the knee. And down. Opposite arm as knee lifts. And down. Again, where is the support in this moment? Even where's the steadiness with the breath or the eyes? Now we're going to lift both arms as the left knee comes up. Hands come to the hips, bend that supported knee and let's step back with as much grace as you have today. Sometimes there's a lot, sometimes there's a little. Finding a warrior one-ish pose, the outer edge of the back foot maybe anchoring down, front heel descending. And now as you make that connection, I'm doing little pulses to find that connection in my legs. You might also imagine drawing the feet gently towards one another. We're going to swim the arms up as the front leg stretches straight. Maybe smooth out the breath as the arms lower down, front knee bends. Do that one more time. The outer edge of the back foot and the leg is steady. Front leg lengthening. And lower. Stay in your warrior one-ish pose, but reach the arms out and up to the height that works for you. Maybe it's a wide V today. Maybe it's more bringing the palms together. And then draw the front body gently towards the back body. Where is this earth element in balance? If it's really rigid, if it's impossible to breathe, it might be a little bit too much. If it's too mushy, you won't be able to stand. And as you're ready, go ahead and lower the hands down. Rotate onto the ball of the back foot and step to the front of the mat. Placing the feet. Shift sides. Let's go with the right knee up. Both arms lift. Bending that supporting leg in with steadiness as much as you got at this moment. Step it back. Create the width that helps you be supported in your legs. Outer edge of the back foot anchors, inner thigh activates. You might even draw the front body, the front ribs, maybe the core muscles slightly back in order to have some length. The same thing here. I'm going to take my arms out to the side though as the front leg stretches straight-ish. Bending as the arms flow down. Yielding into earth, pressing away. Softening. Letting the knees stay in line generally with the second and third toe. Lifting the arms to the height that works for you. Maybe letting your gaze steady on one point and being able to open up your peripheral vision. What can you see around you without turning your head at the same time? Taking in the big picture of this earth. How's your breath? Last moment.

Turn onto the ball to the back foot, hands onto the hips again and let's step all the way to the front of the mat. Place it down. Open up the arms or make connection with you. Take a full cycle of breath to see what's happening here. Tissues, the bones, the connection to this land below. We're going to open up now to the wide edge of the mat and actually come down towards the squat. As we come down into the squat, it might be useful for you to grab a blanket to slide underneath your heels just to have that feedback and support. You can also do this on your back in a happy baby pose. Take a moment to allow now the weight of the body to settle for a moment. As we get down into more of the hip area, thinking about the water element, the jal, we are majority water. We're 75 to 80% water in our bodies. Noticing where those faces are. Take just a moment for a twist. Actually, I'm going to start with my right hand. Pressing your heels into the mat, elongate spine. When you're ready, allow yourself to just twist around. Maybe look behind your back shoulder. As I look behind my back shoulder, I'm seeing this huge, beautiful body of water. Life-sustaining element. Then coming on back, go to the other side. Again, pressing down to create a little bit of length. As we twist, it's not just the spinal column, but it's the fluid body as well. As you twist, is there any way that you can access a bit of your fluid body and soften in the joints a little bit as you press down and twist? Then coming back to the center. I'm going to lift up now and find your virasana. I'm going to take a block to sit on. Feel free to use what you need, whether sitting on your heels or using a block between your heels to sit. Just right here, let's play with, once we find stability, a little bit of that fluidity. Letting the spinal column explore either a gentle or a big range of motion, opening in the front body, hollowing in the back body. One more time. I'm smoothing out any jagged points as best as you are able. As you feel the support of the ground, consider letting yourself have just a little bit of a sway. You might close your eyes for this or keep them open gently. If you could even just let your imagination go for a moment as if you were in a body of water. Remember, this is your imagination, so it's allowed to be the safest either bathtub or big lake, the perfect temperature in your mind's eye.

Being next to the ocean, I think of the kelp that is firm yet fluid that flows with the rhythm of the waves. Just another few moments you might imagine that your head is allowed to be like that kelp, just moving with those gentle waves, the shoulders, the chest. Where if anywhere might be able to yield to this fluidity? Maybe it's circles, maybe the arms do their thing. Then coming back and playing with a moment of stillness. Still probably being able to feel the current within, even though the outer body is still. Water is so powerful and it can feel overwhelming when there's a lot of water energy in our body. It can often feel like damp, unable to access our power, our agency, our support. Having containment can help that. Let's play with that a little bit by pressing down through your shins. I want you to actually soften into your shins, get a little schlumpy. Now press into the shins and then from the base of the tailbone up through the spine, get a little longer. Almost like you could lift off the block or off your heels, sense the support of the base of the body lifting and then release. We'll do that one more time. Pressing down gently, sense the lower body start to respond. You might even hug those lower core muscles in. Stay here for an extra beat as you lift the base of the pelvis, almost like there's a cord from the deep inside all the way through the crown of the head. And then release. Yeah. Okay. We're going to come down now onto the back. So move any props you have aside and let's come all the way down onto the back. And let the sitting bones get a bit heavy into the ground. Imagine the outer hip bones move towards each other, not to make you smaller, but for a sense of hugging and containment. We're going to bring the hands to the base of the skull and just draw those lower belly down as you lift the head and the heart and then lower. One more time as you lift up, still keep your sitting bones heavy, still hug the outer edges of your body into the middle. Let's take just one more to wake up the space like hay space. Now at the top hold, maybe bring in that pelvic floor lift that you did while we were sitting on the block or on your shins. Breathing though, breathing and lower. Bring the hands to the hip bones, press down through the heels, lift your hip bones up only about like halfway towards a bridge pose. Make sure that the head is not getting smushed at all. So the hands press down into the hips, the hips lift up into the hands and just notice this rebound of activity in the low body. One more time lower and then again lift up just part of the way, the shoulders are still on the ground. There's a gentle resistance and with that resistance can you still breathe? That's it. And now the hands on either side of the body, the shoulders gently roll under the body.

Start to direct the tailbone up towards the back of the knees and lifting towards your bridge. Please keep some space between chin and the chest so we're not trying to press the back of the neck down at all. Energy between the legs pressing into the earth and there is a lift and support in the glutes. Consider breathing one more long smooth cycle of breath and then lowering down one vertebrae at a time. Pause for a beat. Let's bring the arms up alongside of the ears like cactuses. Take the feet a little wider apart and just drop your knees side to side. Turn up the energy here. Allow the flow to return. Let your throat soften. There's often a deep connection between work down in the lower part of the body like the pelvis in the throat area. There's similar tissue in both spaces of the body. We'll bring the left ankle on top of the right knee. This might be exactly where you stay if there's a lot of sensation. Others of you are going to find eye of the needle bringing the hand through the whole of the legs wrapping behind or around the shin. Draw the sitting bones down and maybe evoke that sway of the kelp into your hips, into your head. One more cycle of breath here. Releasing down, stretching the legs and going to the other side. Right ankle on top of left. Staying where it is accessible to breathe. So balancing the opening, the intensity with the ease, with the quality of fluidity. If the mind's jumped away at all, ask it to come back. Where are you in relationship to your elements? How's your body? Then releasing down. Check out that lower body. Notice the current. We're going to come now more to the center where the ugny is or the fire, the fire that supports digestion that helps us mobilize, that helps us know who we are from within. So let that lower belly space be down. Lift the head and the heart. We're going to float the knees up so the shins are parallel. And then begin just some simple bicycles. Keeping those sitting bones heavy. Allowing the head to rest in the hands and the activation be really in the center here and through the legs. Go until you can't do any more and then do two more. And now if you're working on building fire, you know that intensity is your jam. That's your wheelhouse. To be in the most intensity all the time. Maybe you playing with balancing fire means slowing down. Maybe doing a little less. But when you are done, whenever that is, bring your hands to your center. Let yourself sense how as you soften, the breath can come in. Nice. We're going to reach an arm alongside of the ear and just roll over to the front. Take the hands alongside of the ribs. Adjust so the tops of the feet are on to the earth and you're really energizing from the inner parts of the legs, the inseam of the legs out through the toes. Let the shoulders roll up, back, and down. And now cultivate all of that lower body energy as well as the fluidity. Let's go in both directions. Maybe a little head bobble to make sure there's no tension in the neck. And then get a little longer on the exhale. We'll do that one more time. Tops of the legs and feet anchor, lower abdominals, back body helps lengthen. And lower. Press the earth away. Reach back to your child's. Full breath. Consider coming on up towards a downward dog. It's a suggestion, not an obligation. Walking the hands in and pauses the head releases. And now as you're ready, we're going to begin to come on up either flat back if you're dealing with any tenderness in the back or rounding one vertebrae at a time. Let's step out towards the long edge of your mat. Pre-orient to being upright now with this connection of earth, of the fluidity of the body, the space, as well as the fire that can mobilize us. Now as we move up into the air, the value, it's going to be more into the lungs thinking about that. So let's start with the right arm here. We'll take the right arm up and just arc over to the side. As you do this, I'm going to really think about stabilizing through the whole right side. Now bring the right arm, right hand to the back of the head. You're going to lift the elbow open a little bit and you get to play with closing. So thinking about stretching, opening, just waking up and creating a relationship with the connective tissue and the whole right side. And now maybe with the elbow up and the sitting bones directed down, consider breathing into this right side. The outer edges of the lungs. The space around in the back body, the front body. As you're ready, we're going to press the feet, rise all the way up. I'm going to let this arm kind of circle around. Take the arm and reach it forward. So I'm not trying to pull my arm out of the shoulder socket, but I am trying to reach that scapula or the shoulder blade a little bit off my back to make room to slide the other arm underneath for eagle arms. Another option for eagle arms might be holding the shoulders, right? Or if there's more body in the front of you, you might hold right here. So wherever you are, lifting the elbows and then bowing in. And I'm going to stay personally a little bit higher today, letting my head be heavy. I'm going to rock my arms and torso slightly to the left. And then I'm going to yield into my back body, meaning I'm going to let myself kind of soften into my heels, sense into the back ribs. And breathe here.

Breathe in the back of the body. The front of us is often so much out performing in the world, being in the world, engaging in the world. This back body connection can help us to feel like we're supported, that we have the breath to get through things. Now we're going to rise back up, release the arms, lift them up. Take the right hand to the chest. And just go ahead. It might be right hand or both hands, but move the breast tissue, move the chest over to the right as you turn your head to the left. And you might tilt that ear down or look up, but opening up the tissue around the sternum, in front of the lungs, in front of the heart. And can you sense the part of the back body? When you find that sticky spot, hang with it with compassion. We're not trying to force anything open. We're just saying hey to the body. We're saying we see you, we accept you. Come on back as you're ready. Last part, take this right arm up, catch hold, arc over. And take a deep breath in so the inner right lungs can hug and massage the heart as you breathe in and out. And then release down. Notice the right side. Notice the left side. Let's go to the left. Plug in through the left side, lift the arm up, arc over. Then bring the hand to the back of the head and you get to play a little bit of opening and coalescing back to center. Right, and opening and coalescing. Think of this rhythmic quality, the movement that kind of replicates the constant cycles of the lungs and the heart. Expansion and contraction. And as you're here, breathing into the whole left side of the body. And again we're not trying to force oxygen in, we're just saying hello and making room, giving permission. Now as you're ready, come on back up. Let's swim this left arm around. Take the shoulder gently away from the back, slide your other arm underneath. Find your version of eagle arms, lifting, bowing. Slide the body slightly over to the right. And then again yield into earth. Find your back. See if you can breathe behind the heart here. For any places that might have been feeling pain, suffering, broken, bruised, just with sweetness and kindness like hay heart. Maybe send a little bit of the idea of love. Love. All right. Gently going to come on out of that. And lift the arms lower. Take the left hand onto more of the space of the chest. This has more of the heart real estate in the left side of the chest. And just move this tissue, the front tissue, over to the left as you look to the right and maybe tilt the right ear down. So it's also the striated muscles of the neck. And this of course, all of this space is where these vagal pathways that help determine and connect to our safety, our connection out into the world and inside of our bodies reside. One more moment here. And then come on up. We'll take your left arm up, catch hold with the opposite up and over. You got that. And then all the way up. Hands onto the low back. Draw the sitting bones down. Lift the front of the chest. Some of you will go into a full backbend. Others of you will stay here into a gentle camel.

Drawing the abdominals in. Come on back. Step to the short edge of the mat to move to our final space. Inhale, lift. Exhale to bow. Inhale, elongate. Exhale, either taking a vinyasa or just moving back into dog, to child. We'll come down into a seated position now. Feel free to use any props you need to let you be more steady. Now as we find our seat again, sensing into the prithavi, the earth element, the fluidity or the water that's through or around you, the heat that has been mobilized to remind us of our living presence, the life force that rides in on the breath, the air, and now into the space for the akasha. Just going to take your hands and actually just make contact. Contact through the soft tissue. And again, this is a light, light, light touch. Almost like you're trying not to make dents on a cotton ball. Just through the throat. Down through the throat. Up through the face. If you want more firm touch, of course go with that. And then acknowledging the very top of the head, the back of the head. Recognizing this whole aspect that goes up into the sky, what's considered to be the virtues. Let's just take a moment to rest with that. Let you are in space. Grounded, contained, fluid. Alive in space. There is room for you. We're just going to finish this practice now with a few hums and we'll have the lips together, teeth apart. Just watch where the vibration goes in the body. Focusing on that and we'll take a few moments of just pausing to notice when we're done. So let yourself get comfortable, either eyes open or closed. We'll take a deep breath in, let the lips close. Let your breath go all the way to empty. We'll do it two more times. Humming. Humming.

Pausing to notice. Take however long you need to be here. Thank you for practicing with me.


Jenny S
2 people like this.
I enjoyed this gentle practice as it wove its way through the elements. The beautiful Pacific Ocean was perfect touch 🙏🏻❤️🌊
Sandra Židan
Beautiful practice! Thanks, Kyra! Kind regards!
1 person likes this.
What a sweet practice. I love all the invitations for light touch and connection, especially the gentle stretching along the sides of the neck and the unharmed marshmallow touches at the end. Thank you ever so much 🥰

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