Imagine yourself walking, barefoot, into a softly lit, wood-floored yoga studio. The walls are painted a warm, golden yellow and the air is lightly scented by the flowers standing in a ceramic vase on the simple altar at one end of the room. The floor feels cool, smooth, and supportive under your feet, and the almost cave-like space welcomes you with a sense of peace and safety.
You have just connected with the energy of Earth element.
Symbols of Healing
All day long, the colors, shapes, and images in your surroundings profoundly impact your sense of well-being—for better OR for worse. The ancient sages of Yoga and Ayurveda understood this very well, and they identified systems of symbols and images that influence the mind, body, and spirit in specific ways.
Perhaps you have seen some of these beautiful geometric images on the walls of a yoga studio or the office of an Ayurvedic practitioner. Maybe you’ve even practiced concentrating on them for a meditation session.
These images are called yantras in Sanskrit. They are prayers or mantras in visual form, which point your awareness toward an aspect of Nature and natural cycles. Yantras are symbols, but they are also more than that. They don’t just call to mind an idea (like “stop” when you see a red octagon) they embody an experience.
Some yantras are complicated and highly detailed, representing huge concepts, or even the entire universe! But many yantras are much simpler. For example, the same sense of stability and stillness that you feel with your bare feet on cool, rich soil can be expressed through the form of a golden cube of light, the yantra of Earth element.
Maybe you have heard the yogic advice “what you meditate upon, you become.” In other words: that which you spend your time thinking about and focusing on, becomes your reality.
This isn’t just guidance for when you are sitting on your yoga mat or on a meditation cushion. It’s about the symbols, images, and thoughts which occupy your mind throughout the day. And it can be much more tangible and specific than just “stay positive.”
You get to choose what you allow to live in your awareness.
The 5 Elements
Stable, symmetrical, solid, regular, dependable: these qualities define Earth element. When you envision this luminous golden cube, you don’t merely think of a list of adjectives, you feel it with your body. You experience it with your whole being. This is what makes a yantra different from a stop sign, or the triangle-skirted stick figure on a bathroom door.
Each of the 5 elements identified in the Yogic and Ayurvedic lens expresses through a simple geometric form:
Space—Hosting and Openness—a sphere of perfect clarity like a crystal ball or a sphere of black swirling around points of every color of light
Wind—Movement—a luminous, smoky-green form like a cube with a pyramid at the top and bottom
Fire—Transformation—a vibrant red inverted pyramid
Water—Nourishment and Cohesion—a silver moon crescent encapsulated in an iridescent bubble of light
Earth—Stability—a golden cube of light
One of the most interesting and powerful things about Ayurveda and Yoga is their emphasis upon your innate capacity for self-healing. But this can seem a bit abstract when you feel overwhelmed by food lists and herbal supplements. Working with the 5 element yantras offers a simple and tangible way for connecting more with natural cycles and your own healing power.
When you choose to keep an image of one or more of these forms in your surroundings and awareness throughout the day, you call the qualities of that element into your life. By relating to the world in this way, you deepen the impact of every healthy choice you make.