Guest blog by Alexander Kroeker, Founder at Element Yoga

Have you ever been in an Asana and felt uncomfortable? Felt nothing? Felt awkward?
Did you ask yourself „Does everyone feel like this here? What is this even good for? And what am I supposed to do in this pose?”

Every body is different.

In Element Yoga we have the understanding that, because bodies are different, it makes sense that even if we do the same asana, we need to focus on a different aspect of it than others, so that it makes sense for our body type. We connect the body type and also “what we have to do according to our body type” alongside 5 Principles, that are symbolized through the 5 Elements that are commonly known from Ayurveda: Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space.

Understanding these principles will help you understand not just why your body looks different than other people’s bodies, but also why your downward dog does. Why you do forward bends better than others and really suck at hip openers. Or vice versa. Further it will give you an idea on what to practice and how to practice. Even how to do the same pose like others but give it a focus according to your own constitution.

As for dogs for example, we differ between Labradors (love water) and Bulldogs (a rather fiery character). One has a wider stance and allows more length in the spine, the other one has heels closer to the floor and allows for more stretch in your legs. I instruct my students to choose either one depending on their body types. The thought of giving an asana a „twist“ according to your body type basically applies to all asanas, though we don´t give them all names like that.

 

Where does this method come from?

The concept of the Mahabhutas („Great Elements“) was brought forth 3000 years ago in the Indian philosophical system called Samkhya. It holds that anything that is matter is a compound of the five Elements. Basically they are the building blocks of anything that matters. Earth symbolizes any thought, energy flow and action that creates contraction, firmness and steadiness. Air symbolizes the opposite direction: expansion. It creates openness, lightness, expresses joy and curiosity. Water symbolizes any withdrawing, yielding, and downward flowing action, fire any striving, forceful, rising action. Space is just there, symbolizing consciousness and awareness.

Ayurveda and the Elements.

Ayurveda then went on to use this view upon the body to systematize its method of healing. The ayurvedic principle of Prakriti takes on the thought that any human (actually any living form) is a differing combination of these elements. And that any sickness is due to an imbalance of the elements. Then Hatha yogis from early on, as documented in the Hathapradipika, took the understanding, that their asana practice will change their energetic and somatic structure, strengthening certain elements and evening out others in order to create balance and harmonic development („madhya prakash“).

So, while the concept itself nothing new, Element Yoga now is a modern Yoga method that takes this perspective and enhances it with the knowledge of modern biomechanics and tensegrity, and applies it to Modern Postural Yoga.

In Element Yoga, Body Reading is a basic skill for any Element Yoga Teacher, aiding him to support his students individually, even within the group teaching context of a vinyasa class. You are invited to catch a glimpse of this method in my workshop on Day 3 at the Berlin Yoga Conference – Sunday at 7.30 pm!


Join the Element Yoga Body Reading Workshop (26.05 19:30 • 90 MIN) watch the short teaser below to get to know Alexander!