June 26, 2014

Creating Transformation In Your Life Using the Element of “Air”

In Earth Energy Yoga, the elements of the Earth come to our aid in creating a sense of well-being and consciously creating the life we want.   They are earth, air, fire, and water.

One of my favorite spiritual teachers, Rev. Ava Park, says that you can allow life to happen to you or you can be the architect of change and build what you want.   In other words, your life is your work of art and you get to choose the colors and patterns to incorporate and what to leave out.  But, what do you do when you’re not feeling very inspired?  I say, ‘bring on The Air’!

The Element of Air is all about lightness, new beginnings, and a fresh perspective.  It is the essence of inspiration – a breath of fresh air.  And, don’t we all need a breath of fresh air now and then?!  Working with the element of air in your yoga practice and in your life is like opening up a window and allowing a fresh breeze to come into a room that’s been stagnant.  This energy of inspiration carries you through and helps you maintain a sense of inspiration so the changes you implement are long-term.

Energies of the Element “Air”

  • Fresh Perspective
  • Wildness
  • Breath
  • Spirit of Flight/Winged Creatures
  • Light-Heartedness
  • Inspiration
  • Insight
  • Movement


In various traditions, the element of air is associated with birds, the wind, leaves, breath, the sky, movement, the direction East, sunrise, and the season of Spring.  The element of air is associated with our heart chakra which unifies our physical and spiritual existence.  The heart is the alchemical location of unity.  Through the first three lower chakras, we have the more physical aspects.  The upper chakras are more ethereal in nature.  So, the heart is the perfect place to unify both of these into insights which contain a balance of body and spirit, and then move from the heart in all that we do.

When the element of air is out of balance, you may feel overly agitated, anxious, mind-racing, and fast-talking.   Or, the opposite.  You may be feeling stuck, focused on the past, and lacking the drive to move forward.  This is where the healing work of air comes in.  By simply taking a moment to stop and breathe, one is able to really feel the newness of each moment.

In yoga, we learn first-hand what a profound influence our breath may have on our mood.  Your breath is both a reflection of your state of mind and can be used to change your state of mind.  For example, if you notice that your breath is short and choppy that is a signal that you are either overly exerting yourself physically or mentally.  Of course, if you’re out for a jog that is a good thing to be a bit out of breath.  But, in everyday life you may notice that in times of stress, you either hold your breath, feel the need to sigh, or that you are breathing shallowly.  In those moments, you can take a slow, smooth, gentle inhale and deep, slow, smooth gentle exhale and thereby calm yourself and return to a state of more serenity.   Wherever you are, your breath is always there as your helpful companion ready to assist you.

In Earth Energy Yoga, we work with the element of air to bring a freshness to our yoga practice and to our mind-body-spirit.  In each yoga pose, we are creating a unique energy flow in relation to the Earth and all that is around us.  So, when we want to connect with the energy of air in our yoga practice, there are a variety of ways to do it and I’ll explain some here.

Here are some ways to engage with the transformative energetics of Air Energy:

Spirit of Flight: In various indigenous traditions, they practice something called shape-shifting.  In this practice, a person moves into the shape of an animal to connect with the archetypal energy of that animal species.  For example, they may slither on the ground like a snake or flap their arm like a bird.  You may notice that many yoga poses take their names from animals.  That is because yoga poses are based in nature and reflect the natural world.   Yoga is meant to remind us of our connection to all animals.

You can do your own version of shape-shifting in your yoga practice.  One powerful way to connect with air energy is to move your arms either in giant circles or up and down like a bird.  Close your eyes and feel what it would feel like to be your favorite winged creature.  Imagine yourself flying above and seeing a large expanse of land or water.  Notice how freeing it is to soar on the air.  I often incorporate this air energy exercise into Earth Energy Yoga classes because it is immensely powerful for bringing inspiration and lightness into the body.   I’ve received feedback from students about how much they love this exercise.  So, try it for yourself!  Air is also about wildness.  Often in our yoga practice (and life in general) we can become overly serious.  This spirit of flight connection exercise will have you connecting with your imagination and sense of play – something that is replenishing for us all.


Vinyasa flow:  Remember, air energy is about movement.  A vinyasa flow yoga practice is one which  links a series of poses together through movement and intentional placement.   It is another great way to bring the element of air into your practice because it helps us learn conscious movement.  Remain mindful of your breath throughout the practice and if you notice it becoming choppy, slow down or rest.


Sky: Imagine the sky above you and emphasize elevation in your practice.  Practice poses that bring the arms overhead either up like in Virabhadrasana I or Invocation Arms/Cactus Arms/Goal Post Arms where your elbows are at 90 degrees with fingertips skyward.  The more you lift your arms overhead the more you can elevate your mood.  When you uplift the arms, you uplift your spirits – literally!   (See the work of Tal Shafir in Brain and Cognition July 2013)


Pranayama – life force breathing exercises are another great way to work with air.  Prana is life force.  When we breathe, we are circulating this life force.  Pranayama breathing exercises are yogic techniques for improving body, mind, and spiritual health.

Ujjayi:  If you’ve never done breathing exercises, begin by simply inhaling and exhaling deeply through your nose.   Create a slight constriction at the back of your throat to create a slight hissing sound as you breathe through your nose.  This is a subtle constriction – nothing forced or exaggerated.  It shouldn’t be audible to a person on the other side of the room.  Work with your ujjayi breath and let it carry you through your entire asana practice.  Alternatively, you can sit in an upright position in a chair or cross-legged on the floor and simply focus on your ujjayi anytime you need to recharge.  For the more advanced practicioners, work with your favorite pranayamas and notice how working with air brings insights and freshness.


Feather Work: Energize your intentions by working with a feather you find in nature.  It is essential that this feather be one that you find of your own accord while outside – it could come from a sidewalk or a nature path – any environment is fine.  However, do not buy a feather at a store as feathers sold in stores require hurting birds and you will be taking on the karma of harm thus negating the healing intentions.   I find feathers all the time.  Once you set the intention to find feathers, you’ll start to see them all over the place!   They may even show up at synchronistic moments with a unique message for you – be open to listening.  Anyway…  when you find the feather, give thanks to the bird who provided it.

Then for your healing work… When you’ve identified something you’d like to apply an energy of invigoration and freshness to in your life, do the following: Sit with your feather, close your eyes, and thank the natural world for the power of your breath and the sweet beings we call birds.  Thank the bird whose feather you’re using for gifting you with this special vehicle for transformation. You may even take a few moments to preen your feather by running your fingers along the length of the feather as a bird would preen.  Visualize your intention – see it coming true.  Feel into the wonderful feelings associated with this intention.  What does this vision feel like – joy, happiness, peace, a job well-done?  Breathe this visualization and feeling into the feather.    Place the feather somewhere you will see it often or somewhere sacred in your dwelling.   Re-energize the feather from time to time by repeating this process as you refine your vision and intention.