Space – Wind – Fire – Water – Earth
This is the second of a series of posts on the 5 elements of Ayurveda and yoga. My last post was on space element.
As the potential within space element moves into action, wind element is born.
Wind element, sometimes called air element, is movement in all of its forms. Most of the gunas of wind element can be felt in the cold wind of autumn and winter. Wind carries the gunas cold, dry, rough, irregular, unstable (moving) subtle and light.
Wind element originates in the potential for touch. The birth of wind moves us from the imperceptible subtlety of space to the perceivable subtlety of sensation. Stated more simply, we can feel wind element. Because of its relationship to touch, in the body wind governs the skin and the hands. All of the movements that happen in the body—from peristalsis in the intestines to the movement of thoughts and sensations—are also produced by wind element.
Because wind is movement, it is also power. When we are expressing undistorted wind element we have great, unforced capacity for work. We have great stamina and enthusiasm for life that arises naturally. We are motivated and creative because the subtlety of wind element conveys inspiration. Healthy wind also results in great capacity for abstraction and connection to unseen things. Focus comes naturally.
All of the movements and cycles in the body occur with a regular rhythm and timeliness. There are neither excess movements in the intestines, nor trembling sensations or spasms in the muscles. Sleep comes easily and is undisturbed through the night and life’s difficulties are handled without anxiety or excess stress.
We live in a world where forcefulness is rewarded. The number of hours we spend doing things that don’t directly relate to our actual health and well-being usually far out-weighs the time we spend just being human. The habits of over-doing, multi-tasking and spending long hours in front of a computer contribute greatly to disturbed wind element. In addition, the same things that disturb space element also usually contribute to excess wind: raw or processed food, intensive exercise and drug use.
When wind is in excess, from the outside, we may look like we “have it all,” but internally there is often a monumental struggle taking place. The addiction to always “improving” or increasing one’s material wealth often turns into Titan Realm fixation. For others, the practice of constantly analyzing, worrying or planning develops into Human Realm fixation—where thinking about life replaces actually living it. These strategies actually mask deep anxiety.
When wind is depleted, we are exhausted and run-down. Our lack of enthusiasm and vigor is communicated through our feeble pulse. We lose the ability to connect to our life and circumstances.
For excess wind:
- Underdoing—practice saying “no”
- Slow yoga practice with long, deep holds; heart opening postures
- Yoga Nidra
- Turn off electronics after sundown
- Nadi Shodhana pranayama
For deficient wind:
- Regularity and rhythm
- Warm, cooked food
- Abhyanga and bucket-bathing
- Spending time with close, trusted, undemanding friends