Five Elements in Ayurveda
How This Helps
Our bodies are created in the same fabric of the universe. The same five elements aka 'Panchamahabhuta' in Ayurveda make up the entire universe and also create the human body. Most people are familiar with 'Doshas', but do you know that the three doshas- Vata, Pitta, and Kapha are formed of the 5 elements in Ayurveda. The five elements are Akash (Space), Vayu (Air), Agni (Fire), Ap (Water) and Prithvi (Earth), and understanding these can help you unlock the secrets to your being.⠀
Science and Research
The Five Great elements - Akash (Space), Vayu (Air), Agni (Fire), Ap (Water) and Prithvi (Earth) make up the fabric of the entire universe and our bodies. Our physical bodies are an expression of the five elements and as we leave the physical body the five elements dissolute and disperse back into nature.
What are the five elements in Ayurveda?
The five elements are Akash (Space), Vayu (Air), Agni (Fire), Ap (Water), and Prithvi (Earth). Understanding these can help you unlock the secrets to your being.⠀
- The element 'Akash or Space' 💫when in the universe, is seen as the vast space that holds the planets and the stars, in our bodies the same element can be understood as various hollows of the body- that skull cavity that accommodates your brain or the abdominal cavity that holds various organs.⠀
- The element 'Vayu or Air' 💨when in the universe or nature is seen as the wind, the one that gives the movement for planets, comets, etc, whereas in the body Air is seen as the one that fills your lungs, that which gives movement to all processes in your body and also the gas that you are so uncomfortably bloated with.⠀
- The element 'Agni or Fire' 🔥in the universe represents the brilliance of the sun and the stars, in our body, it is seen as the digestive fire that burns your food, and your eyes that light up your world.⠀
- The element 'Ap or Water' 💦is seen in nature as the oceans, rivers, and seas, and in your body as various fluids- saliva, blood, plasma, and is responsible for nourishment.⠀
- The element 'Prithvi or Earth' 🌎in the universe is seen in the form of planets, wood, rocks, and stones, and in your body, it is seen as the denser parts like bones, nails, and hair.⠀
These five elements not only make your body but also the doshas and thus balancing the five elements is the key to balancing your body. If even a single element goes out of balance, it creates disharmony leading to ill health. ⠀
The Five Great elements - Akash (Space), Vayu (Air), Agni (Fire), Ap (Water) and Prithvi (Earth) make up the fabric of the entire universe and our bodies. Our physical bodies are an expression of the five elements and as we leave the physical body the five elements dissolute and disperse back into nature. ⠀
When we look at nature's beauty, we discover that five components provide the basis for the whole physical world. Ayurveda recognizes these components --Space, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth--as the building blocks of all material existence.
We have an inherent familiarity with the components. All organic and inorganic materials are combinations of those components, be it a time-polished stone or a shiny piece of plastic. Every object is unique since it comprises a varying ratio of those five components.
Ayurveda also observes the five elements inside the human body. We nourish ourselves with foods on the Earth, and finally, our body returns to the earthly thing where it came. Water is our life-sustaining nectar, which makes up more than 70 percent of our total body mass. Fire provides the body with warmth and radiant energy and is present within all chemical and metabolic activities. Air flows freely, giving movement to biological functions and feeding each cell with oxygen. Space is ever-present in the background, providing the other components with a chance to interact this way.
The Ayurvedic perspective is that the Water element encompasses over the material we call Water. Additionally, it embodies the physical attributes, biological functions, and energetic properties of the element. By way of instance, Water is liquid, thick, tender, and more cohesive. It governs all bodily fluids and is essential for chemical reactions to occur in nature. For mind and emotions, Water relates to a calm character and promotes compassion, love, and contentment.
The Five Components explain why substances of the natural world are compatible with the human body. We easily use herbs, plants, minerals, and Water, as these substances are the exact same in character and composition to our underlying make-up.
See: Ayurvedic Diet
Akash or Space in Ayurveda
Akash or Space in Ayurveda
Creating Optimal Space within. Ether or Space is the mother of all elements as it holds all the other elements within it serving as a container. Akash or Ether can be understood as the essence of emptiness. Space is the first one of the elements. This element is often known as "space" or "emptiness." Since ether is empty space, it's known as the element which other fill. The ear and the mouth are related to this element. All empty spaces in our body are linked with the ether element. Ether or Space can be understood by its characteristics of being invisible and unobstructed. ⠀ ⠀
Applications of Akash Mahabhuta can be seen as:
1. Ayurvedic dietary principles of eating to 2/3rd your stomach capacity and leaving 1/3 space for the activity of digestive juices.⠀
2. Fasting or Langhana creates space for your body to do its work when you minimize the workload by restricting food/ water and thus can help digest Ama (digestive toxins) as well as Meda (Fat). This is also the reason for the popularity of Intermittent Fasting today.⠀
3. Prolonged self-administered detoxes can make you feel spacey, ungrounded, distracted due to excess of Akash Mahabhuta + Vayu Mahabhuta leading to Vata aggravation.⠀⠀
4. The bitter taste is the only taste that has the dominance of the Ether element in its composition. This is why Bitter taste is the most cleansing of the 6 tastes and can help develop the mental clarity when used optimally.⠀⠀
5. Morning pages (writing 3 pages early in the morning on waking up) helps you detox your mind and declutter your emotions by helping you release emotional baggage.
Mahabhuta or Element of Water is number four in Ayurveda elements. This element can be tasted unlike Vayu or Ap element.
Vayu or Air Element in Ayurveda
Vayu or Air Element in Ayurveda: Vayu Mahabhuta or Air Element is the second in the sequence of elements and can be understood by movement. You can understand this element only through touch as it is invisible. Air represents breath, oxygen, movement, and lightness. This component is found in the respiratory system and nerves. It's also the second of the five components since air has a close connection with ether.
Vayu Mahabhuta can be applied as follows: ⠀
1. The air element is the immediate source of life. If we don’t breathe air, it can kill us faster than any other element. Thus, Vayu (air) is synonymous with that of prana (life energy).⠀⠀
2. Vata dosha formed by the combination of Space + Air elements is known as the King of doshas due to its ability to move itself as well as the other two doshas Pitta and Kapha immobile. The Air element gives Vata dosha the ability to move.⠀⠀⠀
3. There are three tastes that dominate the Air element:
Pungent (Air + Fire_ Cloves and Black Pepper
Bitter (Air + Ether) Arugula, Kale
Astringent (Earth + Air) Legumes + Beans
These foods should be avoided if you have a Vata dominant body type.⠀⠀⠀
4. Coffee addiction: Coffee is the most common stimulant in today's world. It is bitter, clear, and Vata aggravating.
Try to avoid coffee if you are Vata dosha as it can have effects of fatigue, insomnia as well as make you feel anxious. If you like coffee, my suggestion is to add cream to balance its aggravation for Vata dosha.
In addition to cream, coconut oil + grass-fed butter helps as well to help with aggravation of Vata dosha.
5. Pranayama is a simple exercise to control your breath by the practice of Hatha yoga. According to Hindu scriptures, control of your breath controls mind and concentration. Calming and controlling the breath can thus calm and control the mind. Try to practice simple nostril breathing as it can calm you.
See: Vata Dosha Balancing
Agni (Fire) in Ayurveda
Agni (Fire) in Ayurveda:
Agni Mahabhuta or Fire Element is the third in the sequence of elements and can be understood through vision. Fire is the third of the elements. It's linked to ether since it gives it the room to burn. It's also associated with air since it offers the fire fuel. Fire is closely related to the eyes and the body's warmth. Fire is also connected with ideas, emotions, and obsessions. Applications of Agni Mahabhuta can be seen as: ⠀⠀⠀
1. Ayurveda states that Agni Mahabhuta or Fire Element manifests in the human body at various levels- Jatharagni or the digestive fire, 7 Dhatu Agni, or the 7 aspects of fire element that bring about the transformation of tissues, and 5 Bhutagnis- that bring about transformation in each of the elements.⠀⠀⠀⠀
2. According to Ayurveda, all the diseases stem from weak digestion. Strong digestive fire or Agni is fundamental for optimal health. It is important for you to process your food and all the nutrients you consume.
3. Pitta Dosha is formed by the combination of Fire and Water elements. It is the fire element that provides warmth, visibility, brilliance, sharpness to Pitta Dosha.⠀⠀⠀
4. Sour+Salty+Pungent tastes have the dominance of the Fire element in its composition.
Sour (Earth + Fire) Fermented Food, Lemons and Lime
Salty (Water + Fire) Sea Salt, Rock Salt
Pungent (Fire + Aire) Spices such as ginger, cloves, and black pepper
All the foods mentioned above promote digestion.
5. Ginger Pickle for Digestion 🍯: I love this pickle and here is a simple recipe:
This is my favorite recipe for digestion:
Take a palm-sized piece of ginger, peel and grate it + add a dash of salt + 1 lime juice and raw honey. Mix it well and store it and voila, you have a homemade remedy to help your digestion!
See: Dosha Quiz
Ap (Water) Element in Ayurveda
Ap (Water) Element in Ayurveda: Water is the fourth great component. It's connected with Fire, ether, and air. Water is the shield of the human body. The tongue is related to the water element. Water is expressed from the body in five different ways: saliva, stomach, the nerves, the joints, and the lymph system. In addition, it is associated with blood. Applications of Ap Mahabhuta can be seen as : ⠀⠀⠀⠀
1. The water element 💧is the primary source of nourishment in our bodies.
It helps us become calm, cool, soothe, soften, and moisturize our bodies.
2. Kapha Dosha is the principle of cohesion in the body and is formed by the combination of Water and Earth elements.⠀⠀
3. The water element is crucial to our sense of taste and without water element, there would be no taste.
Two tastes of sweet and salt are the most predominant tastes in the water element. If you have aggravated Vata, it can make you crave for these two tastes to balance your Vata dosha. Try not to consume too much salt and sugar as it can lead to water retention in your body and make you lethargic and indigestion. If you are Kapha dosha, it can result in yeast infection as well as indigestion.
4. The water element is crucial to Hydration as well as Lubrication. Water helps hydrate our bodies while the fats and oils lubricate. Thus, water is responsible for creating softness, moisture, calmness in the body and helps pacify Vata as well as Pitta and nourishes Kapha.⠀⠀⠀⠀
5. Charak Samhita also enlists water as the best amongst substances that have a calming and soothing effect. Typically, we give a glass of water to a person who is anxious or stressed out. Drinking enough water is also essential to create fluidity and ensure that your emotions don’t get stuck.⠀
Prithvi Mahabhuta or Earth Element in Ayurveda
Prithvi Mahabhuta or Earth Element in Ayurveda for Creating Optimal Nourishment
Prithvi Mahabhuta or Earth Element is the fifth in the sequence of elements and pertains to the sense of smell. Earth is the last of all of the elements since it evolves from the previous four. Additionally, it comprises these components within it. This component is heavily associated with our sense of smell, nails, bones, and teeth.⠀
Applications of Prithvi Mahabhuta can be seen as : ⠀
1. Earth element brings stability and structure and is responsible for strength as well as nourishment of our body.
2. Kapha Dosha, the principle of cohesion in the body and is formed by the combination of Water and Earth elements where earth provides the stability and the inertia to it.⠀⠀⠀
3. Critical to our smell sense; if we use any fragrance, it can help enhance the Earth element. This is the reason why essential oils can help to calm our senses via smell and provide more stability by nourishing the earth element.⠀⠀⠀
4. Of the six tastes- Sweet, Sour and Astringent are predominant in the Earth element. Earth element enriching foods help to build muscle as well as add strength and stability to the body.
Earth + Water = Sweet
Earth + Air = Astringent
Earth + Fire = sour
5. Ayurvedic herb Ashwagandha that is known to vitalize the body, support muscle growth as well as promote strength has a dominance of the Earth element. If you like to nourish the Earth element, you can try to have Ashwagandha with warm milk in the morning when you wake up.
Keep Elemental Ayurvedic energies in balance
How do you keep your elemental ayurvedic energy in harmony?
There are numerous ways that you can keep your energy in harmony. First, you have to know where or what your problem is. Once you determine what elements will need to be aligned, then it is possible to balance out the disharmony. To find what you want to restore your distinct element, read the chart below.
These elements are combined into what is known as the doshas. Each individual has the three doshas. They determine someone's personality and physiology. There's the Vata dosha (Air and Ether), Pitta dosha (Fire and Water), and the Kapha dosha (Water and Earth). Everybody has a combination of these three doshas. However, every individual has a different dosha, which makes up most of nature and physiology.
- Vata Dosha (Air and Ether): Individuals that have this dosha are light, thin, and tall. Stress, eating too much, and nervousness can induce individuals who have this dosha.
- Pitta Dosha (Fire and Water): Individuals with this dosha are generally muscular, warm, outgoing, and amazing leaders. When out of balance, they suffer from high blood pressure, heart issues, and inflammatory disorders.
- Kapha Dosha (Water and Earth): Individuals with this dosha generally have heavier builds and are calm, and loving. When they are out of balance, they get possessive and greedy. They suffer from obesity and respiratory issues.