Exploring the Elements—Water
Welcome to Exploring the Elements—our 5 part series devoted to describing the power of the 5 elements which Ayurvedic tradition believes to be the foundation of life: Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, and Space. Transform your view of the world around you, and your own health, with a new understanding of the elements!
Water element is the principle of cohesion. In the body, this emerges as nourishment, growth, and lubrication. Water element cools, moistens, adheres, soothes, softens, smoothes, dulls, and spreads.
When you express clarified Water element, you feel nourished by, and connected to, your community. It helps you feel content, express yourself calmly and smoothly, and allow things to “roll off your back.”
Water allows for assimilation, permitting your food and experiences to become part of you. Healthy Water element also insulates your body with a healthy layer of fat, lubricates your joints and mucosa, and produces clear, smooth skin. It gives you open and non-judgmental eyes, and smooth, fluid motion in your limbs.
Sound familiar? That's right, kapha dosha is made up of primarily Water and Earth elements.
Two of the most prevalent flavors in the average diet these days—sweet and salty—both predominate in Water element. The tendency to over-consume these flavors leaves you heavy and bogged-down with wet, sticky dullness.
When water over-accumulates, your digestion slows down, and you may become dull and insensitive to the situations around you. Excess water leaves you sticky, bogged-down, heavy, excessively emotional, or depressed.
The wet quality of Water element douses your digestive fire, resulting in weight-gain, lack of appetite, sluggishness, and apathy. You might also develop yeast infections or white, itchy rashes. Nausea, excess mucus production, loss of appetite, and edema are also common expressions of excess Water element.
Deficiency of Water element can leave you dried out and inflexible in body and mind. You may become constipated, emaciated, and bitter. A depletion of the sticky and smooth qualities of Water element leads to a loss of the ability to connect with others, or with nourishment in general.
For excess water:
- Exercise—working up a sweat so the channels become unblocked. Try kapha-pacifying yoga.
- Eating dry, light foods, or a kapha-pacifying diet.
- Cooking with herbs: ginger, white and black pepper, clove, cumin, coriander, and fennel (these last 3 also make a great digestive-stimulating tea).
- Spending time in the sun or a dry climate.
- Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar).
- Twist postures and digestion strengthening postures—such as Chair Pose (Utkatasana), Boat Pose (Navasana), or Pawanmuktasana II sequence.
For deficient water:
- Hydrating fluids such as cow’s milk, coconut juice, and coconut milk.
- Healthy fats such as ghee.
- Sweet foods such as wheat and red grapes.
- Spending time in person with loved ones.
- Yoga Nidra.
- Moon Salutation (Chandra Namaskar).
- Moon-bathing (think sun-bathing, but under the light of the moon).