"Because awareness is as present in our lives as the air we breathe, we can access it anywhere, anytime.” - Mingyur Rinpoche
Air is the element connected to movement. The wind blows and scatters seeds. A bird soars with open wings gliding effortlessly. You can visualize the movement of air by following the direction of smoke, fog and steam. If the body was devoid of water, you would find air filling the empty cavities. Fire and water need oxygen, a major component of air, to fulfill their purposes of transformation and distribution, respectively. The heaviness of the earth element finds balance and harmony in companionship with air.
Air is associated with autumn and early winter when the weather is cooler, dryer and contains more days with blustery wind. It is the element connected with the heart and throat chakras, and is associated with the senses of touch and sound. Without the movement of air and the small, frequent vibrations it creates, we wouldn't be able to speak or hear. Air is the element that fills the void - the space called ether - and is a necessity for living.
When in balance, the air element is linked to our ability to communicate and speak our truth in a way that is loving, compassionate and authentic. It is associated with clarity, agility, grace, intellect and the ability to breathe fully and easily. In the body, it is responsible for the movement of energy, fluids, nerve impulses, and breath.
Here are some facts about the air element according to Ayurveda:
Signs of Deficiency:
Concave chest and difficulty breathing
Heavy, dull feeling
Unmotivated or depressed
Lack of mental clarity
Difficulty making decisions
Inability to get started on a project or task
Slow to 'connect the dots'
Stuck mindset (not open-minded)
Signs of Excess:
Dry & cracking skin, tongue, or nails
Brittle hair or bones
Talking without thinking
Inability to listen and be present
Inability to finish projects
Lack of organization
Constant blinking and dry eyes
Hiccups, gas or bloating
Causes of Imbalance:
Lack of routine
Consuming too many raw, uncooked foods (salads, smoothies, etc.)
Eating dehydrated foods (trail mix, nuts, chips, popcorn, etc.)
Too much time on electronics (phone, tv, tablets, etc.)
Overexertion and too much exercise
Eating while doing other activities (working, watching tv, reading, etc.)
Note: If you are feeling an excess or deficiency the below practices will help with light imbalances. However, for severe imbalance, please contact me (email@example.com) to schedule an Ayurvedic consultation.
Ways to balance the air element:
Asanas for incorporating more air: Warriors, fish, bow, cobra, cat/cow, camel and bridge or wheel.
Asanas for decreasing the air element: Child's pose, inversions, cobbler's pose, and balancing poses.
Mudras for balancing air: Vayu Mudra - thumb over index finger; Prana Mudra - index and ring fingers touch the pads of the thumbs; and Lotus Mudra - Thumbs and pinkies touching and both hands brought together in front of the heart chakra.
Pranayamas: Bastrika (active inhale & exhale) and Surya Bhendana aka solar breathing (inhale & exhale out of the right nostril)
Bija (seed sound) mantras: Yam - Heart Chakra and Ham - Throat Chakra
Practice: Get to know your heart. What does it need to be honored and recognized? Have you hardened your heart to protect it? Are you expressing self-love? Do you ask for what you need and want? Are you able to let go of grief, sorrow, and judgement? Can you find compassion for all the other creatures spiritually connected to the earth? Do you feel divine love?
Sounds: Wind chimes, bells, tingshas, bowls tuned for the heart & throat chakras, and your voice.
Aromatherapy: Geranium, Melissa, jasmine, rose, breathe blend, eucalyptus, peppermint, and ylang ylang.
Foods for increasing air element: Pungent (onions, garlic, peppers, honey); Astringent (beans, cardamom, chia seeds, pomegranate, apples); and Bitter (leafy greens, herbs, turnips, parsnips)
Foods for reducing the air element: Sour (citrus, ferments, vinegar, cheese); Salty (seaweed, salty snacks)and Sweet (Ghee, dates, steel cut oats, fennel, rice, grapes)