“My intention, as an instructor, is to establish a balance and connection between the five bodies and elements from our life and bring a holistic approach through the practice, inspired by DHARMI-YOGA® Style. I invite participants to access and balance the five fundamental elements through their yoga practice:
- AIR (or WIND) represents the mind and our psychological aspects, including our core beliefs and our living respiration. Air facilitates the flow and harmony within and all around us, helping to cleanse the mind and establish peace.
- FIRE represents the energetic, forceful, moving things in the world, manifest in the movement, rhythm, action, and motivation throughout our practice. Fire builds selfXconfidence, allowing us to move through life with grace and determination.
- WATER is where we find emotions and the fluidity of our relationships. By learning to surf the waves within us and around us with grace and intention, we enable flexibility and flow.
- EARTH represents the material and tangible aspects our life. When we practice yoga on the water, we notice that we have to strengthen our base while on the floating surface. We connect deeply through the Mula Bandha to achieve a higher sense of grounding. To find this support, the base and structure is key for a harmonious and nurturing practice that honors the Earth.
- ETHER represents space, life force, that light and intention that connects us all and connect us all with a higher purpose. It represents our ability to think and to communicate, as well as our creativity. It can also be associated with power, creativity, spontaneity, and inventiveness.
Each of these elements is present within and around us. We have a direct reflection around us when we do a yoga practice in a natural environment, such as on the water. The water keeps moving, reminding us the flow of our emotions and relationships.
In my eyes, an advanced yogi is not measured so much by how many and how complicated postures (asanas) they can do, but rather, how intentionally they live by the five elements, as well as apply the 8 limbs of yoga into their practice and into their lives. But more on the eight limbs later… It is my blessing to share this inspiring practice of yoga on water, be it grounded on a SUP or Yoga WaterMat, and to see it expand worldwide, bringing people closer to nature and peace.
The yoga on water experience directly connects the five elements of nature, reminding us of the Law of Impermanence and constantly evolving movement of Life itself.
Every practice requires consideration of the surrounding environment, as well as the participants’ state of being. If it is stormy, we cannot risk being outside on the water, requiring a reXscheduling of the class. This, in itself, can cause stress and anxiety, and as instructors, we need to show our own command of the five elements. Again, a successful yogi is more than just flexible on a yoga mat: They intentionally apply the eight limbs of yoga in all aspects of their lives. So, although the rain may frustrate our plans to practice, it presents the perfect opportunity to practice yoga and channel our emotions with compassion and intention.
After years of instructing yoga on water, countless people have healed themselves and overcome their fear related to the water. One person had profound fears of anything that would float, but after incorporating yoga on water, she quickly found peace breath after breath.
The practice of yoga on a floating area, regardless if on a SUP or Yoga WaterMat, requires strong balance and connection to our inner anchors, the bandhas. Our point of reference is inward, more than outward. It is a beautiful inner practice, bringing the participants to the present moment. It is inspiring to witness the embodiment of their intention and associated results.
WATER represents the fluid, flowing, formless things in the world. Beyond bodies of water, plants are also categorized under Water, as they adapt to the environment, growing and changing according to the ways of the sun and evolving seasons. As a metaphor for how we deal with emotions, we acknowledge our responses to the constant flow and movement of the water.
Being in tune with the nature reminds us to be humble, yet focused, and clear in our intention.
- It teaches us to not be too tamasic and to let oneself go with the flow like clouds in the sky without clear direction in our everyday life.
- It teaches us to not be too rajastic and not to resist the current and force an outcome when it is not to be.
- It teaches us to be satvic. Of being clear, relaxed, and alert. To live in the moment, adaptively, to honor what is, while respecting healthy values, pure intentions and clear direction.
Of course, we are influenced by such moves, by Life’s ups and downs. Isn’t that part of our human essence? It is natural to have ranging emotions. Like water, there are differing forms: The waves; the ebb and flow of the tides; the clouds above us, sometimes dropping rain, sometimes dry and fluffy. It is also natural to have ups and downs: Some days we’re motivated and some days we’re down. Like the sun: The fire is always there, yet, today it may be cold; tomorrow, it may be warm. It can be so cloudy that sometimes we even forget the sun is there.
What we want to learn is to manage all those emotions with as much wisdom, compassion and love as possible. Developing those fundamental qualities is key for yoga.”
Written by Christelle Chopard
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