Yoga Philosophy and Lifestyle

The Water Element: The Key to Flowing Freely

October 4, 2022

As we continue our exploration through the elemental forces that make up our internal and external universe, we acknowledge that each element, though separate and unique, is a part of a whole. They are all connected and affect each other. The element of fire, in the form of our Sun, evaporates liquid water into vapor, which makes up part of the space and air elements. Liquid and solid water influence the earth element by shaping it over time, in the case of seas, rivers and glaciers.  

Water, the most dynamic of the elements, can even exist in many states of matter-a solid, liquid or gas. The water element is defined by its qualities of being soft, liquid, viscous, clear, and downward moving.

In our being, water is the element of the pranamaya Kosha - our energy body. As the elemental source for our pranic sheath, water holds the significant position of providing us with needed vitality. Water is honored for its ability to allow us to have life. One can only go so long without water.  

If your vitality is feeling low, go ahead and drink some water, then do this kapalabati pranayama. This practice can give you energy like nothing else, even coffee! It’s also a great way to move and release energy, so you want this one in your tool belt. Check it out here.

Other ways we can stimulate prana to flow are by using aroma therapy and reciting meaningful mantras.  When prana flows freely, without blockages, we are less likely to get sick or fall ill with diseases. It helps us live healthier and longer lives. We feel more vitality and more ability to be productive.

One place the vitality of the water element energy can get blocked is in the Chakras. The Chakras are wheels of energy that receive, assimilate and transmit Shakti, the female principle of divine energy. This happens on various levels of experience and consciousness, physical, energetic, mental, and emotional. Svadhisthana, the sacral chakra, is the most associated with the water element, as well as creativity, movement, and emotions. This energetic vortex is the seat of sexual expression, too. When it is open and flowing in a balanced way, self-enjoyment and gratification are present. When it is overactive it can cause one to be manipulative and controlling. If it is deficient, co-dependence, martyrdom and being overly submissive can show up.  

Poses to Balance Your Water Element

Staff Pose

Some yoga positions help balance an overly active sacral chakra. Try this seated pose - seated poses, like Staff Pose (Dandasana) to find more stability and less movement.  

To Practice
  1. Sit with your legs straight out in front of you on the floor. The feet are hips width apart. Remove the flesh away from your sit bones so that you are on the front of the bones. This will help the spine to be vertical. Allow the arms to rest along the side body with the palms pressing onto the floor.
  1. Activate the leg muscles by pressing out through the ball of the foot and the inner and outer heel. Ground the legs into the floor firmly without locking the knees. Open through the collarbones, lifting the chest. Drop the shoulder blades down the back.
  1. Inhale and lengthen the spine all the way out the crown of the head. Tuck the chin in slightly. Stretch the abdominal muscles away from the lift of the chest. Bring the gaze directly in front of you and breath normally. 
Sun Salutations

For an underactive water element in the body, try more movement-based practices, including Sun Salutation variations, or Surya Namaskar. Poses that focus on the hips, like Gomukasana, are also recommended.

Try It Out 
  1. Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Bend one leg, placing the ankle on the side of the opposite hip on the floor. The toes are tucked under. Now bring the second leg over the first. Cross the leg as far over as is comfortable for you. The knees are stacked one above the other. The toes are tucked under. Have both sit bones placed as evenly as possible on the floor. 
  1. Inhale and raise the arms upward. Bend one elbow, placing the hand behind the head. The palm moves down the back. Extend the other arm down to shoulder height. Extend from the muscles attached to the sternum through the fingertips. Bend the elbow and bring the hand, palm out, behind the back. Clasp both hands together, with the fingers pointing up.  
  1. Release the head into alignment with the spine. Open the chest and upper back body on an inhalation. Soften the upper back towards the hands, bringing the rib cage in alignment with the hip girdle.   
  1. Extend the arms away from each other with equal energy moving upwards and downwards. Use your breath to soften into the earth with the buttocks. The gaze is straightforward. 

Want more?

Check out this class on YogaToday.