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Until then if you want to double check class availability, you can still log in and book via the triyoga Client Portal here.
If you need help please contact your specific triyoga centre here, and our teams will be happy to help you.

Important notice: Our booking system supplier is currently experiencing technical issues, which is causing account and checkout actions to fail in some cases. Their engineers are urgently working on it. Until then, you should be able to log in and book via 1) the triyoga app or 2) the triyoga Client Portal here. Or if you need help please contact your specific triyoga centre here, and our teams will be happy to help you.

Important notice: Due to a global IT outage upstream, you may experience issues with booking, purchasing, or logging in. Their engineers are working on resolving this as quickly as possible. Thank you for your patience

Important notice: Some users are experiencing login issues due to a technical issue upstream with our booking system provider. Their engineers are working on it. Until then you can still log in and book via 1) the triyoga app or 2) the triyoga Client Portal here.

Important notice: Our booking schedules are temporarily down due to a technical issue. Our engineers are working on it and we hope to have this resolved very shortly.
Until then, if you need help please email our customer care team at [email protected] or contact your specific triyoga centre here, and our teams will be happy to help you.

maya medicine: the five elements

Ahead of his new year’s purification workshop on the 7th January, Roland explains the theory behind the five elements in Maya Medicine.

Life is energy, arising from space, from the great emptiness of our Sky Mother, giving birth into form, then dissolving back into space.

Our lives are a play of earth (solidity), water (fluidity), fire (heat) and wind (motility), all dancing around the vast unborn, undying emptiness of the primordial Sky Mother, ever changing and transforming, disintegrating and reconstituting. We call these the five elements, which in many native traditions are considered to be the substance of all life and its processes. They possess both positive and negative qualities, and understanding how to work with them is key to developing self-knowledge and effective spiritual practice.

Earth is the basic building block of life. Traditionally it is located in the east, is yellow in colour, associated with autumn and is the most substantial of all the elements. Mountains and the substrata of rock down to the earth’s core represent the strength and stability of this element, along with the earth-bounding quality that connects us to the earth and all its inhabitants.  Life is really about this relationship, because all relationships come from our primordial relationship to earth. When earth is balanced in us and working in harmony with the other elements we feel confident, rooted in our everyday experience, open to life and able to enjoy the benefits of a balanced body and mind.  On the other hand, if the earth element is too dominant we become stuck and heavy, too serious, too dense.  Our routines can become over-mechanised, we can lack feeling or creativity and our bodies are likely to become tense and compressed, blocking the other elements.

Water is the river of life that transports energy from high to low with downward-moving prana.  Traditionally it is located in the South, is blue in colour and associated with winter. It’s qualities are clarity, fertility, spontaneity and cohesion.  Since our bodies are made up of almost two-thirds water it’s amazing how little we resemble the fluid essence of which we are made.  A continuously free-flowing body of energy, moving through the channels, energy centres, organs and the blood stream is essential for a healthy and happy life. When the water element is lacking we tend to get stuck in rigid thinking, repress emotions and procrastinate. Since it is formless, it takes the shape of whatever holds it, whether wave, river, lake or rain; there’s no holding back with this element, it is always on the move. Too much water can result in us not having enough grasp on daily life, leaving us overly sensitive or overly-emotional.

Fire is the creative or catalytic spark of life. When supported by wind, it grows into a joyful and compassionate energy, and is able to burn through doubt, confusion, negativity of all types, depression and loss of direction in life. Arising in the west, fire is associated with spring and the colour red.  Without this basic warmth, life becomes meaningless and dull. We can find it hard to connect with others or maintain our spiritual practice and give up all too easily when faced with difficulties. Moving from low to high with upward-moving prana, we can experience this element as inner heat rising through the central channel, which brings about a feeling of warmth and wellbeing, or the energy of bliss that accompanies sexual union. An excess of fire can result in restlessness, anxiety, insomnia, volatility and can become highly destructive, as in the case of anger; a tiny spark can set a whole forest aflame. Without the grounding effect of earth and the cooling of water, the instability of fire, especially if fuelled by strong winds, can give rise to agitation, conflicts, and great turbulence in one’s life.

Wind is associated with the colour green and summer in the North.  It is the element of change and growth, ventilation and communication. Every time we breathe in, we take the cosmos into our being, allowing it to permeate every cell. When we breathe out, we give it back again. Throughout our lives there is a constantly evolving communication between the inner and outer worlds and wind is the messenger, the vehicle through which we reconcile the two. If we breathe fully and deeply we can strengthen the air element, develop good relationships and learn to express ourselves freely and easily, even in times of great crisis. Since breathing is a natural process, and all life cannot be sustained without air, it’s good to practice breathing every day, to oxygenate and regenerate our system. Conversely, too much wind can cause restlessness, instability, distraction and dispersion and we can find it hard to focus or complete simple tasks.

Space is known as the queen of the elements, or the great Sky Mother, because it gives birth to the other four elements and their manifestations. Without centre or circumference, space is the infinite theatre of emptiness that allows for the play of life’s cycles to unfold, civilisations to come and go, galaxies to be born and die. Although it is without substance it cannot be said to be a void, as it is imbued with energy. It’s qualities are transparency, formlessness, openness and expansion. Traditionally, it is located in the centre of the five element mandala, and is represented by the colour white. Space symbolises the true nature of the mind; empty and luminous as the boundless open sky. Meditation is the system that helps us cultivate this energy of expansion and openness. Thoughts come and go but we allow them to self-liberate into space. Sadness and joy, fear and hope come and go without attachment. We can enjoy life as it is and embrace change when it comes. The penetrating experience of reality comes from embodying the space element and seeing the impermanence of life, so our mind merges with space and we become space. When the space element is well balanced in us there is time for everything, we become accommodating and unhurried, able to balance work, home life and spiritual practice, take care of our health and go on retreats. If there is too little space our lives feel cluttered, we can feel as if we’re constantly trying to catch up with ourselves yet never finding the time. On the other hand, if there is too much space, we can become unanchored and drifty, feel disconnected with life and become unable to harness the active drive of accomplishment.

Whichever path we choose to tread, we must make our peace with our elemental constitution and our inherent imbalances and challenges, and work with them as best as we can, both in the inner world of our daily experience as well as in our dealings with the world outside. It’s a deeply personal journey because we are all imbued with great uniqueness. We must try to find practices that help us balance the elements according to the nature of the imbalances that arise from birth. We must examine our state of mind, our emotional life and our life situation to determine what we best need. That’s what spiritual practice is for: to transcend the dualistic clingings of this life’s neurosis and uncover the awakened state of mind. Awareness of the elements and a willingness to work with them on a daily basis will facilitate new insight, growth and balance in all aspects of our lives. May we become as nurturing as earth, as clear as water, as inspirational as fire, as free as wind, and as open as the great Sky Mother from whence we come.

Roland is a Traditional Maya Healer and trained with Lauro de la Cruz in the Maya Highlands of Chiapas, during the 90’s. On completing his apprenticeship he ran a Maya Medicine clinic in Dharamshala, whilst studying Tibetan Buddhist philosophy with Geshe Sonam Rinchen. He has practiced for eighteen years mainly in Mexico and is now based in London at triyoga. Visit www.mayamedicine.co.uk.

Join Roland Torikian in Camden
new year’s purification: mind, body + heart
Saturday 7th January

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