How Yoga is connected with the 5 elements?
Updated: Feb 17
In recent times, even though more and more people are up to yoga practices and techniques, there is not a change in human Universal Consciousness. This may either of the way those techniques are dealt with, or due to ignorance of the philosophy and the tradition which is the underlying belief behind all those practices.
Tantra is a philosophical belief which explains the way the Universe was created and how it was expanded, based on the law of cause and effect. Etymologically the word Tantra, like the word Sutra means "string thread" and refers the "thread" of thoughts. Based on Tantra, Samandi (Ecstasy) can be achieved when someone is concentrated to himself and not to the outside world. Tattwa Shudhi (Purification of the Elements) is a system which was created to act from gross to fine purification of the elements based on the awareness of the energy which all of them carry.
On a physical level, the five elements are Akasha-Ethereal responsible for time and space, Vayu-Wind, responsible for the flow of movement, Agni-Fire responsible for heat, Apas-Water responsible for liquidity, and Prithvi-Earth responsible for gravity forces. On the finest level, those elements have finest properties (Tanmantra). For Ethereal is Sound, for Wind is Touch, for Fire is Shape, for Water is Taste, and for Earth is Smell. On the next level, thoughts are formed which are produced by Prakriti-Creation Force in close proximity to Purusha-Cosmic Self.
On a gross analysis, five types of consciousness exist, the five Kantsuka (Kala, Vidya, Raja, Kala, Inati), which are produced by Illusion (Maya). On Pure Consciousness State (Shiva), a connection with Pure Energy (Shakti) is maintained. Until creation, (connection Shiva with Shakti), three other forces exist, the Power of Will (Itsa), the Power of Action (Kriya), and the Power of Knowledge (Gyan).
In humans, the five elements are found in different combinations, which influence them directly. The first element in progress is Ethereal, where energy and material exist with no movement in consciousness state. The energy which starts to move from Ethereal element then produce movement in Wind element, where there is a lot of space for movement. Due to the amount of movement and the high level of energy, heat is produced which is responsible for Fire element. In this element, movement of energy is less than that of Wind, and thus a part of it spreads in the Water element. When movement and energy diminishes even more, the Earth element starts to be prominent.
Ethereal produce space for material existence. It is also believed as sound transporter. It is a mental point which corresponds to the top of the head and the Unconsciousness state of mind. It is associated with Vishuddhi Chakra and it awakes spiritual experiences based on Causative Body (Anandamaya Kosha).
Wind is related with movement in all forms and it controls the movement of the five wind types in the body: Prana, Apana, Samana, Udana and Vyana. It allows touch to be felt which on a finest level can be perceived as movement of energy in and out of the body. Continuous movement creates change and is responsible for variability in humans and in nature.
Fire is the energy which is perceived as light. It is responsible for formation and visibility of things. Formation is associated with Ego and attachment. In the physical body, it coordinates digestion, appetite, thirst, and sleep cycle. It either increases their power, or it destroys them. In everyday-life. the increase of this element can result in disagreements which lead towards change in positive directions and personal development. Mentally it is associated with the Subconscious state of mind and it is located at the Manipura Chakra and the Mental Body (Manomaya Kosha).
Water, is the first element in the physical body which appears in the formation of blood, mucus, lymphatic fluid and more. It controls bodily fluids and thus all the positive results which may brings to present are not constant but they change from time to time. Water element controls thoughts and is associated with both conscious and unconscious states of mind. Mentally it is located at Swadhisthana Chakra and is related to Vital Body (Pranamaya Kosha).
The last element, Earth, indicates existence on the land where we stand. It has the properties of gravity, stability and coherence. Smell it is the prominent quality which opposes. Contrary to Wind element, Earth brings stability and permanence both physically and mentally. It is located at the Muladhara Chakra and at Coarse Body (Annamaya Kosha).
According to Buddhist Tantra, Kalachakra Tantra, and also to Hinduism, several techniques are used beyond Asana (bodily postures) such as Mantra, Yantra and Mandala to achieve element purification and thus to reach Cosmic or Universal Consciousness. Particularly, Mandala is the result of any given form which is created in a circle, in certain geometry (sacred geometry). The morphology, of the interior of the circle is like the law of light, where waves of light are moving in a circular direction, forming space with curves.
Anything in life can form a Mandala, a plant, an animal or a human. A Cosmic Mandala, is the one created by a state of mind which is coordinated with Universal Consciousness. Those are Mandala which can lead to spiritual awakening. Concentration on a Mandala activates Samskara (Mentally Impressions) and then a finest connection is achieved with Cosmic Self through imagination.
Likewise Mandala, Yantra represent abstracts forms of esoteric visions. Yantras have similar focusing points such as Mandala. A circle, a central point in the circle, a triangle and a square is usually observed in a Yantra. Prakriti-Creation Force is represented by an inverted triangle, whereas Purusha-Cosmic Self is represented by triangle which has his base down and his top upwards. The absence of time or eternity, is represented by a Circle and the physical world is represented by a Square. Observation and meditation on a Yantra plays a significant role in the spiritual path, as it symbolizes a bridge between the outside world and the esoteric places of existence.
Likewise every thought produces a feeling, every sound produces a vibration known as Mantra. The ultimate Mantra is Om ॐ, the vibration of existence which is composed by three sounds A-U-M, each one vibrating in a different frequency. Repetition of a Mantra awakes the consciousness of the relevant vibration. Sankrkit is a language which is supposed to be disparaging, and thus repetition of a Mantra is related with higher levels of awareness. According to Tattwa Shuddhi, Bija Mantra are repeated to achieve element purification, where Bija means seed and it relates to a seed in the depth of the consciousness. According to Tantra every part of the physical body is influenced by a relevant Mantra. One of the most important Mantra , is the sound which is produced while breathing so called So Ham. So Ham is repeated spontaneously while breathing during ones life. Each Yantra has its relevant Mantra.
As long as observation is based on feelings from the outer world, one cannot be aware of his/hers Inner Peace. Since Mandala, Yantra and Mantra have the power to swift awareness to ones Inner Self, they can be used in order to expand Universal Consciousness being free from every castle, dogmatism, religion and gender and reaching the ultimate Truth of Peace and Harmony which all of the above have. Consciousness can be expanded in a Satvic-Ballanced energy which can be achieved though element purification from all the techniques and practices based on Tattwa Shuddhi.
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Robert Biar (2005) Symbols of Tibetan Buddhism, Kedros Publication
Swami Satyasangananda (2010) Tattwa Shuddhi, Garuda Hellas A.E.
Jyotimarmagananda (1999) Tantra Yoga ten exercises for High Awareness, Kedros Publication
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Image 1 www.atmann.net/kala.htm
Image 2 www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yantra#/media/File:Tripura-bhairavi_yantra_color.jpg
Image 3 www. gr.pinterest.com/mandalanomadess/flower-of-life-mandala-art/?lp=true
Image 4 https://wakeup-world.com/2016/02/13/15-plants-that-teach-us-sacred-geometry-at-its-finest/