SpaceWind FireWater Earth

This is the final post of a series of posts on the 5 elements of Ayurveda and yoga. You can read posts here on: space, wind, fire and water.

Earth Element

As the energy of manifestation stabilizes, it gels into solid form. Water element slows to a standstill and hardens as it crystallizes into earth.

Earth is the principle of stability. In the body, this emerges as growth, accumulation and support; the muscle tissue, fat tissue and hard part of the bones depend heavily upon earth element. Earth expresses as cool, stable, heavy, dry, rough, gross, dense, dull, and hard. Earth predominates in the environment in the mid to late winter and at the beginning of spring.

When we express clarified earth element, we feel stable and rooted. Emotionally we are grounded and confident but flexible.

Earth element originates in the potential for smell. The advent of earth moves us from the tangible experience of substance (water element) to the stable experience of material form. More simply, we can see, touch and grasp earth element. Because of its relationship to the sense of smell, earth element governs the nose. Earth also regulates stability and insulation, helping the organs to maintain their shape and position in the body and holding bodily fluids and warmth within the body.

“Uncramped” Earth

When we express clarified earth element, we feel stable and rooted. Emotionally we are grounded and confident but flexible. We make well-considered decisions and do not waver in carrying them out. Earth element supports committed, long-term relationships and career paths.

Earth (along with water element) insulates the body with a healthy layer of fat. It produces sturdy bones and muscles and a good capacity for physical work. Healthy earth element produces clear eyes, with well-defined pupils; strong, square teeth and a regular, symmetrical form to the body.

“Cramped” Earth

Two of the most prevalent flavors in the western diet–sweet and sour—both predominate in earth element. The tendency to over-consume these flavors leaves us heavy, dull and lethargic.

A surplus of earth element blocks digestion and we become dull, stubborn, depressed and despondent. The hard, dry quality of earth element blocks the channels of the body resulting in poor digestion and inability to perceive the world clearly. Tumors and growths of excess tissue (usually benign) may develop as the accumulations increase.

Excess of earth element can show up as an Animal Realm tendency towards hiding away, dullness and despondency. It can also arise in the dry, overly boundary-defining attitudes of Human Realm fixation.

A lack of earth leaves us ungrounded and undependable. We may become anxious, emaciated and flighty. A deficiency of earth element makes us “spacy” and unreliable. It will often lead to God Realm fixation and it contributes to Hell, Hungry Ghost and Titan Realm fixations as well by making us lose touch with basic reality.

Some Remedies

For excess earth:

  • Exercise—particularly working up a sweat so the channels become unblocked
  • Warm, moist foods
  • Cook with herbs: ginger, white and black pepper, clove, cumin, coriander, fennel (these last 3 also make a great digestive-stimulating tea)
  • Inducing a light sweat in a steam room
  • Dry-brushing
  • Twist postures
  • Digestion strengthening postures—such as pawanmuktasana II sequence
  • Channel-clearing postures—such as pawanmuktasana III sequence

 For deficient earth:

  • Grounding foods such as meat and root vegetables
  • Forward-bending postures
  • Sticking to a regular schedule
  • Abhyanga
  • Yoga Nidra
  • Making commitments (and keeping them)—sankalpa is a great practice for increasing the energy of earth element