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Ascend Through The Elements

Stephen in Headstand Pose in Pathos, Cyprus

Here I am in headstand, single leg lateral stretch variation, from my last trip to Pathos, one beautiful sunset. The challenge is holding your balance with a one-sided stretch, which needs your core muscles. One of the reasons we are drawn to the seaside is that it blends the earth—the sand, with water—the sea, with fire—the sun, with fresh air. These elements both restore our natural balance, and facilitate the subtle process of transformation from the ground to the sky, that lifts our mood. In modern science this transformation process is recognised in the four states of matter—solid, liquid, gas, plasma, representing a journey of transformation to lighter and more subtle states, and this understanding was always part of the ancient idea of the four elements. If we restore our natural balance, we will naturally feel our spirits lifted, our inner spark light up, and our creativity, compassion, and contemplation flow, in the same way that everything in nature grows upwards towards the light. Most of my life I’ve taught an evening yoga class after a day at work and to prepare for the class I usually take a rest—lying down, (earth element), then take a bath—cleansing and refreshing my body (water element), then meditate before starting the class (fire element and air element), and by the time I’ve gone through that process, I feel like a completely different person to the one who was dealing with stressful situations. When we start the day, we all emerge from our bed—earth element, wash ourselves with water element, fuel our inner digestive fire element with food, and then step out into the big wide world—air element. The ancient element idea wasn’t bad science, it was a deep intuition about how the transforming processes of nature are inherent to our way of being. Our balanced state is naturally a buoyant state, just as the earth is drawn to the stars.


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