Why practice yoga is a question that comes up often for me. In fact, I consider the purpose of my practice every time I step onto my mat. I set clear intentions before every personal practice and every class I teach. This keeps me focused, present and motivated. Ayurveda also has a huge influence on my ability to see the big picture and understand the vast impact my yoga practice has not only on my life, but on the environment around me.
I had the honour of speaking at the opening of the Montreal Yoga Festival 2015 about the Purpose of Practice. Being an ayurvedic practitioner, I talked about the five elements and how they relate to the subject “why practice yoga”.
Below is a link to the 45 min recording of my bilingual talk and here is a short summary about why practice yoga:
In ayurveda, we believe that everything is composed of the five elements and the qualities that these elements embody. These elements — Earth, Water, Fire, Air & Space– also relate to the first five chakras and their functions.
- EARTH is our foundation, our roots and history. It’s also connected to the first chakra, to stability, strength, stamina and survival.
- WATER is fluidity, connection, balance and the ripple effect our practice has on everyone and everything around us. Associated with the second chakra, it is also the intimacy we have with ourselves and others. I also believe that our teachers’ guidance is like the water that nourishes our practice and our soul.
- FIRE is our discipline and our passion for the practice. Related to the solar plexus or third chakra, it is our emotional power that motivates us and gives us courage to overcome challenges, because we know that challenges are inevitable in life. Fire is also the force of transformation and the light that dissolves the darkness within us and around us.
- AIR is our breath and our life force. It brings lightness, flexibility and mobility into our practice. Air is associated with the heart chakra and the energy of compassion, forgiveness, love, self-love and letting go. Our breath carries us into the present moment and centres us.
- SPACE is what is created in our body, mind and soul when all the other elements come together. Space is also the perspective needed for us to ‘think outside the box’ and act from a higher state of inner consciousness. Related to the throat chakra, the qualities of this element also allow us to speak and act mindfully contributing to a more harmonious outer environment.
Understanding the nature of these five elements, I understand that my yoga practice is not only about me. My practice has a far greater purpose and a far reaching effect. Yoga is about what I contribute to this world when I am in a state of happiness and health. It’s about all beings everywhere.