Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Element Air

Air is all around us, but we can't see it. It is always touching us, but we can't reach out and hold it. We know it is there because without it we would die.

When air is moving, we call it wind. Seeing movement in the leaves of trees, spray on ocean waves, clouds drifting across the sky and birds gliding with open wings, gives us the illusion of seeing air. We can feel air as we move through it quickly while running, riding a bicycle or any other sport.

Man has always been intrigued with flying, the act of moving through air above the ground. The first successful vehicle for flight was the hot air balloon. Since then man has invented hang gliders, para gliders, ultra lights and flying wing suits to experience the feeling of freedom in flight.

Who doesn't talk about the weather at least once a day? Weather basically describes the condition of the air relative to time and place. It affects our food supply, our daily activities and what we choose to wear and often how we feel. As much as we try to understand and predict the weather, it still continually surprises us. Air can be as gentle as a soothing breeze or as dangerous as a roaring hurricane.

Humans with air qualities tend to be intellectual, flexible, versatile, social, and objective. They are good communicators but they can be dreamers, procrastinators, cold and detached.

We can feel air as we bring it inside our bodies as our breath. This creates energy and is vital to life. This energy is also called chi or prana. Air is light and represents truth.

In yoga we lead with our breath. Movements follow the breath. Breathing fully supports our optimal alignment, relaxes our mind and rejuvenates our whole body. There are specific practices called pranayama for breathing. We can lengthen the breath, focus on the inhalation or exhalation, breathe through alternate nostrils and direct the breath or energy from the breath to different parts of our bodies. When we focus completely on our breath, our involuntary and incessant chatter stops and our minds become clear.

Air links everything on earth together. It represents all we cannot see: our soul, spirit, mind and heart. When we inhale we bring in air from the outside and when we exhale we send out air from the inside. Our breath constantly reminds to give and receive equally, that in order to receive we have to let go of something and that the balance of opposites is vital to our lives.

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