Earth, Air, Fire, Water

Artwork by Beatrice Lebreton.

My lovely yoga blog has been taking a back seat lately.  Not because I don’t love writing it, and not because I’m too busy. It’s because life has been, well, different. Not bad different, just the kind of different that has made me feel less like writing and more like being.

That hasn’t meant I haven’t had time for reflecting. I’ve got so much reflecting going on these days it’s hard to know what to share here first. I should probably start by sharing something yoga (this is a yoga blog after all).  And, where have I left off?  I had just taken a short teacher training at East Side Yoga studio. I touched on it in my Flintstones post. Something I didn’t mention there which has stuck with me, was Julie‘s introduction to the four elements: Earth, Air, Fire and Water. They were presented as possible themes for a class but also as tools for self study, for svadhyaya. I’ve spent some time pondering what they mean for me.

So, here it goes…

I’ve been thinking a lot of about the four elements in the context of me becoming a yoga teacher. I’ve said it before but one of the things I love best about my favourite yoga teachers is, when they are teaching a class they are simply being themselves. Sounds easy. Way less complicated then making up a yoga persona that isn’t me. Well, it turns out this “be yourself” thing causes  a lot of svadhyaya. I have been feeling like a teenager trying to figure out who the hell I really am. Luckily, this time I have more to go on then purple hair and a deep rooted love of riot grrrl music (although, those qualities can’t be forgotten either!). And I have a starting point, the four elements.

It was hard at first to say which element I identified with the most. I felt a connection to all of them.  I’m Aquarian (not that I’m actually into astrology, but it was worth a shot!). Aquarious is an Air sign and a Water carrier.  In contrast to those elements, Fire scares me on some level and Earth is really where I want to be. Overall, I’d probably say I’m Air (which is in agreeance with two of my teachers). I tend to get spinney, even flighty. Going upside down doesn’t cause me any fear, only fun. I’m an over thinker, an over talker and an over do-er. I constantly have to tell myself to slow down and take on less. Be a little less so you can be more. You know, that kind of thing.

Oh, I know, there is nothing wrong with Air. I’m guessing I’ll always be a little flighty. There is an enjoyment in that to some degree.  It can be a total blast. But sometimes I feel like I’m too high up there. I’m in outer space where the air is actually starting to dwindle. My oxygen is getting low. I need to let go of some of those balloons to slowly lower, get a little closer to the earth.

I see Earth as cool, calm and collected. I know a few people I’d throw into the Earth category. They are slower talkers. They are level headed. They take in their surroundings. They choose their words carefully. They embody a sweet peacefulness. They remember to breathe between their sentences. I love it all. And when I see it, I know, that groundedness is in me as well. No one is all Air, all Earth, all Fire or all Water. We are all a lovely mix that is there to be accessed at our own will (some elements more challenging then others of course!).

But what do Earth, Air, Fire and Water really have to do with teaching? No, they are not an incantation. They are deciphering tools. A means of reflecting on what it is we intentionally or unintentionally send out to those around us. No one needs crazy energy injected into their day through their yoga teacher. Energy, yes. Crazy energy, no. Ever been to a class where the teacher’s energy left you feeling scattered in savasana? Being conscientious as a teacher is important, and me, taking a month to think it all through can’t be a bad idea.

So, what did I discover in that month? I know now, more then ever, that I’m looking forward to sharing a little balance of “Air” and “Earth” with my students. Without giving away all my secrets, I’m taking the playful side of my natural tendencies and interjecting that with a little more quiet, a little more awareness and a little more intention. I’m excited for this reflection to become a part of my teaching. I’ll be officially finished my 200 hour in December. Hoping to see a few of you then!

Also, I would love to hear what element you relate to most. I’m curious to know if it’s something my friends and readers can actually can identify with. Hit me with a comment, email me or tell me in person!

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