Our natural state is balance, a sacred space where we experience equanimity within our own beings and true harmony with our surroundings. Certainly we are all familiar with the many ways that the dealings of our daily lives can push us towards unbalanced states, causing stress and challenges to our wellbeing. The more attuned we become, the better we get to know ourselves, and the more instinctively we can make choices that lead to the experience of greater evenness in our lives. Knowing what creates balance and imbalance in our own beings can empower us to make conscious choices more consistently.
When we have compassion for our individuality, we can learn to live in harmony with how nature made us, this is one of the greatest gifts we can offer ourselves, each other, and our communities. Ayurvedic studies and practices inspire us to take responsibility for our own wellbeing through self knowledge, reflection, and caring for ourselves with the resources we have available. Ayurveda, a sister science to Yoga that translates as “the knowledge of life” is considered to be the oldest healing science. These teachings originated in the ancient Indian body of knowledge known as the Vedas dating back to pre-1500 BC. These ancient teachings have a great deal of wisdom to share with modern yogis seeking to live vibrantly within the demands of these times.
Ayurveda says that our health and wellbeing are determined by factors including: what we eat and how well food is digested, how well (or unwell) we sleep, and the purposeful use of our prana or life force energy. Prana, or cosmic energy, emanates from the sun and the five elements. We can build prana through breathing and yoga practices, eating the right foods for our constitution, and the quality of our sleep. We lose prana through many channels including not consuming and assimilating enough of the right foods, poor sleep, and excess time engaging in pursuits that do not support our health.
The heart of the teachings of Ayurveda is less struggle and more ease. In yoga philosophy we find a parallel teaching in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 2.46: sthira sukham asanam, often translated as “the posture or asana should be stable and comfortable or easeful.” For most of us, less struggle with more ease is a marvelous intention. How can we embrace our individuality while interacting gracefully with this body, breath, heart, spirit, thoughts/ mind, and our environment? Through the practices of knowing our own inner workings and how we respond to stressors we find essential keys to our own unique sense of wellbeing and balance.
We are each born with a specific composition of the five elements, just as these elements exist in the natural world they are within us all: earth, water, fire, air, and ether (space). Every being has a unique proportion of each element that determines her individual constitution. The five elements are the foundation of the doshas; these constitutions are known as Kapha (water & earth) which is structure, Pitta (fire & water) which is metabolism, and Vata (ether & air) which is motion. To learn more about Ayurveda, I recommend starting with the book Essential Ayurveda by Shubhra Krishan.
Last summer during our Balanced Being Yoga and Sound Healing Retreat at the Ranch, we began each day with meditation and asana practice attuned to the elements found in nature and reflected within our own beings. It was a mystical experience to practice on the Nature Deck, overlooking the lake while coexisting with an abundance of wildlife for our air and ether elements practice. Captivated by the movement of the wind and the spaciousness of the big sky as we focused on building prana in the heart space, a deep connection with ourselves, each other, the blessings of nature, and a higher consciousness was ever present. This energetic awakening was at once moving and grounding as we opened further to the blessings of being held by the natural world.
Later that afternoon as we gathered inside the lodge by the cozy fireplace for Yoga Nidra with live sound healing, we continued to open to the grace of the air element with the inherent movement of the breath as the body settled into blissful deep rest accompanied by the sweetest healing sound vibrations. I can not imagine a more attuned place than the Feathered Pipe Ranch to witness the grace of the natural world, the elements as they manifest within each of our beings, and the balance of steadiness and ease that comes from deep introspection and time to replenish ourselves in nature.
Join Estee Fletter and Cindy Meiri for a peacefully balancing week of yoga and sound healing, centered around balancing and nourishing your entire being with daily active and restorative yoga practice, meditation, and Yoga Nidra sessions with live sound healing, June 24 – July 1, 2023, “Balanced Being: Yoga And Sound Healing Retreat.”
ABOUT ESTEE FLETTER:
Estee Fletter, E-RYT 500 is a compassionate and inspired Yoga Teacher, Mentor, and Teacher Trainer based in the San Francisco Bay Area. Estee’s classes blend chanting, meditation, music, and thoughtful sequencing while maintaining an emphasis on breath and self-inquiry. She is known for her warm nature, the soothing quality of her voice and supportive hands-on assists. Her grounded and motivating energy provides all levels of practitioners the opportunity to find balance while exploring their own unique possibilities.
Learn more about Estee: esteeyoga.com