The body is a microcosm of the cosmos. As individuals, we contain and reflect the five elements in the atmosphere known as earth, air, fire, water, and ether.
We use qualities of the elements to gain an understanding of the ways we interact with the world and ourselves. Fire is sharp, acidic, and mercurial. It is an expression of that which is unpredictable, mutable, emotional, and wild.
To step into the element of fire is to open ourselves to the possibility of healing through confrontation and manifestation of our desire. To move with the intensity of the fire, we examine our inner longing, our deepest desires, and how we want to create and will our thoughts into action. Once anything touches fire, it is never the same. It changes physically and chemically. Once we enter the fire, we are also changed, physically, mentally and emotionally.
Yoga to Connect to Your Inner Fire
Embrace the heat with a core strengthening class on Practice with Clara.
Why We Connect to the Element of Fire in Yoga Practice
Fire gives the impetus to burn off impurities and shift our current mental/physical/emotional state.
Bringing fire into the flow of your yoga class will help the muscles stay supple and strong to support you in life. Holding yoga poses for a longer time and pranayamas such as Kapalabhati (skull shining) breath build heat and strengthen the core.
Another way to bring the fire into your yoga practice is by engaging in slow and repetitive movements with a resistance band. This style of exercise helps target the core stabilizers and muscles we don’t activate when moving through a typical yoga class.
Here are some of the ways a fiery yoga practice benefits your body and mind:
Build equal parts strength and flexibility.
Typically, individuals tend to be more flexible or more sturdy. Those who are stronger require lengthening exercises to release the tense muscles, while those who are more agile require strengthening to avoid injury.
A fiery vinyasa or core yoga class will provide postures that lengthen and strengthen the muscle groups, unlike slower-paced practices such as yin or restorative yoga.
Activate slow twitch and fast twitch muscle fibres.
Slow-twitch muscle fibres are used in endurance training. They are the smallest and least powerful. Refinement in action, focus, breath, and longevity activate slow-twitch fibres.
Yoga asanas that are held for a duration stimulate the slow-twitch fibres.
Fast-twitch muscle fibres are the leanest and longest. Any exercise that features short, sharp, and intense movement to build strength and muscle mass involves fast twitch fibres.
Band work in a yoga class uses the fast-twitch fibres, as do chaturanga pushups and core work.
Improve body awareness and discipline (tapas).
Breathing into the sensation of each pose and sustaining the yoga practice will create more body awareness and self-control. Holding the poses for a duration and connecting to breath will help you to increase your awareness of how you feel, movement to moment. It also intensifies the sense of discipline we uphold as we progress and commit to the practice.
Sadhana: How We Tend the Inner Flame of Desire
A sadhana is a spiritual exercise to accomplish one’s goal with the ultimate aim of enhancing the expression of reality. Sadhana translates to “an effort exercised towards the achievement of a purpose.”
One who undertakes a practice of sadhana would cultivate a practice to honour their desires and overcome the limitations of the ego to pursue the divine state of consciousness. Sadhana in yoga may look like meditation, mantra, and asana practice, where you would take the discipline of completing your sadhana for a specific interval or period.
Sādhanā is a discipline undertaken in the pursuit of a goal. Abhyāsa is repeated practice performed with observation and reflection. Kriyā, or action, also implies perfect execution with study and investigation. Therefore, sādhanā, abhyāsa, and kriyā all mean one and the same thing. A sādhaka, or practitioner, is one who skillfully applies…mind and intelligence in practice towards a spiritual goal.
– B.K.S. Iyengar