Exploring our inner ecology – Chapter 4: Taking care of our Air element, freedom

EarthWater, Fire, Air or Ether, each month we will meet to explore one of the elements of our inner world, how to identify it, understand it, take care of it with some advice and gentle rituals.

To you, the air that sets me in motion and frees me from all my burdens,

You are the breath, the breath of life, the oxygen.

Your lightness livens me up and enriches me.

With you I spread my wings, I am free and joyful.

This month, let’s reconnect to our “AIR” element, named “Vayu” in Sanskrit. This air allows us to breathe and make the most of life. The Indian sages understood that air was the first source of life. A lack of it kills more quickly than any other element. The concept of Vayu is similar to “Prana” (life, energy).

Air brings us life but also lightness, openness to others, the capacity to move and makes everything possible and vibrant. Air is perceived through contact and the sense of touch, i.e., our skin, a subtle and powerful object of perception and knowledge. Although it is invisible, its effects are very visible. Air is at the origin of all movements; it gives them direction and creates a vibration.

To take care of our inner AIR element, we have to cultivate our ability to move, to stay connected to our values of freedom and love. Air carries and transports. It supports us but also transmits to others our joy, our enthusiasm, and our benevolent presence. Air defies the limits of time and space.

In yoga, the Air element is linked to the 4th energy center, our heart chakra, Anahata in Sanskrit, the place where seats unconditional love and joy.  When your heart chakra is harmonized, you are capable of great empathy and openness, satisfaction, acceptance of yourself and others. The joy of life is your natural state while allowing your emotions to flow. The more air that flows through you, the more space you create to open your heart. Love is therefore not lived in attachment but on the contrary, in a feeling of great freedom.

Me and the Air element

Before giving you rituals to take care of your inner FIRE, I suggest you take two minutes to ask yourself the following question:

What is my relationship with the Air element? Is it an element that I feel very present within me? Not enough?

To help you dig in this question, ask yourself for example:

  • Am I someone who is comfortable in moving on, with a great capacity to evolve and adapt?
  • Do I feel free in my life, consistent with what my heart is telling me?
  • Am I connected to the breath, breathing consciously?
  • Or, on the contrary, do I have difficulties in setting myself in motion, in acting, in adapting or reinventing myself?
  • Am I often too much in control, in search of security, which prevents me from being spontaneous?
  • Do I find it hard to get out of my comfort zone?
  • Or do I have trouble breathing? To give myself space, physically in my body and around me, but also in my life?

If the answer to this second group of questions is “yes”, it probably means that it would be beneficial for you to strengthen your Air element.

Remember that it’s all about balance: too much air and movement can also be insecure and exhausting. Each element must be balanced to find an overall harmony.

Taking care of our Air element

4 rituals to cultivate the breath of life, freedom and joy!

Ritual 1: Yoga poses to open the chest and breathe better

To live well, we need to breathe well. To breathe properly, we must first adopt the right body postures and create space in our chest. Indeed, if you are all hunched up, shoulders bent forward, heart and plexus tight from stress and emotional tension, you will not be able to breathe properly and oxygenate your body and brain correctly.

Here are three yoga postures to help you open your chest, create space between your ribs and breathe better. You will feel open, relaxed and joyful.

The Cobra pose : Bhujangasana ⠀

Open the chest to breathe better and hold ourselves straight.

Lie face-down on the floor with your hands flat under your shoulders, your elbows along your ribs. The tops of your feet are flat on the floor, your legs are straight. ⠀

Inhale and push on your hands to lift the top of your chest without forcing, your shoulders should remain low, and the neck long. Like the cobra rising to attack, the feet, knees, thighs, hips, lower abdomen are rooted in the ground, and it is through this solid foundation that the upper body rises. ⠀

My advice: Press your shoulder blades together and push your pubic bone into the ground to protect your lower back.

The Bow pose : Dhanurasana

Lying down on your stomach, bend your legs and grab your ankles, spread your knees. When you inhale, raise the head, the bust and then the legs upwards. The arms are stretched. Place your focus on the opening chest. Stay steady and breathe calmly. To return, first release the legs, then lie on your stomach and relax your body.

Never force in this posture, it must be done gently and within your limits. The muscles stretch, but you should not have pain in the knees.

My advice: smile while doing your posture, it gives motivation and positive energy.

The Camel pose : Ustrasana

Place yourself in a seated position on your heels, feet and knees hip-width apart. Contract your glutes and straighten your body forward so that you are resting on your knees, with your feet flat on the floor.

By pushing the pubis forward, you create an arch with the back. Bring one arm up to the sky and then back to rest your hand on the heel. Do the same thing with the other arm, gently, the pelvis forward.

This posture being intense for the back as well as for the abdominal muscles, always do it gently and in stages.

My advice: to prepare for this posture if it is still inaccessible for you, you can simply place your behind your back to support it and gently arch backwards, without going too far. You will gradually relax your back.

Ritual 2: Three-step breathing space exercise

This breathing technique is very deep and complete. It is calming, regenerating and increases our breathing capacity by creating space in the chest and lungs. We find a feeling of openness, well-being and freedom in the body.

How to practice? 

Sit with your back straight, cross-legged or on a chair with your feet flat on the ground. The chest is open, the solar plexus opens naturally. Put one hand on your stomach and one hand on your chest.

Take a first deep breath, naturally inflating the belly, then rise the air in the chest and then up to the collar bone (3 times, 3 zones). Exhale the air through the mouth slowly, bringing the collar bone down first, then emptying the lungs and finally emptying the belly. Continue this sequence for 2 to 3 minutes, alternating the inhalation in 3 steps and the exhalation in 3 steps, and finding more and more comfort and fluidity in the breathing. You feel the space that is created when you inhale and the relaxation when you exhale.

Ritual 3: 4th chakra meditation: the heart breath

Sit comfortably, cross-legged or on a chair. The important thing is to have your back straight and your chest open to breathe properly and let the energy flow freely. Close your eyes. Breathe gently to bring relaxation to the whole body. Then bring your attention to your chest and heart, where you feel the space being created with each breath.

You are now visualizing at the heart level a beautiful emerald green light, a deep green like that of the Amazon rainforest, bright and oxygenating.

On each breath, this light grows and shines a little bit more. You feel the breath of life going through the heart and the whole chest; as if it was the heart that was fully breathing.

On each exhale, you feel the breath enveloping the whole chest area and the upper body. Feel the space, the feeling of freedom and joy growing inside you.

You can finish the meditation by reciting in your head one or two intentions:

  • “I feel free”,
  • “My heart is open”,
  • “I am light”,
  • “I feel the breath of life flowing through me”,
  • “I am free of all my burdens” “I am happy”.

Ritual 4: dance freely, eyes closed

Put on some music you like. Gently warm up the body by breathing, then stand with the body completely relaxed, close your eyes and let the body make the movements that come to it. Let the body dance and move as it pleases, with fluidity, releasing jaws, neck, shoulders, pelvis.

Give more amplitude to the movements, feel the emotions that are there and “dance” them. Feel the sensation of lightness in the movement, of air on the skin, of freedom and joy that invades you. Smile and enjoy !

Take care of you.