How to live harmoniously: The Five Elements | Lucy McCarthy


Can you notice which elements are most dominant in your life? And is this helping you live harmoniously? You can use the five elements to bring harmony, equilibrium and ultimately peace to your life. MFML Teacher Lucy McCarthy explains.

five elements Lucy McCarthy

The Five Elements

The Five Elements have long inspired ancient yogis and are known as the Pancha Maha Bhuta’s in the Hindu tradition, which translates as the Five Great Elements. Revered highly due to the belief that they are the basis and foundation of all cosmic creation!

  • Earth is known as Prithvi
  • Water as Jala
  • Air as Vayu
  • Fire as Agni
  • Ether or Space as Akasha

The Root Of Our Overall Health

Each of the elements have different qualities and in Ayurveda, the Science of Life, and sister science of yoga and within Indian philosophy the human body is viewed, like the entire cosmos,  as being made up of these five elements. In Yogic terms, the five elements are at the root of our overall health and well being and when there is any disease or issue in the body it is thought that this is due to an imbalance in one or more of the five elements within us.

Gaining Mastery Over Yourself

Traditionally each element is connected to a sense and sense organ in the body. For example, Fire is associated with sight and the eyes. There are even mudras, sacred hand gestures, related to each of these elements, which can correspondingly be used to help align ourself with any of the elements and/or aid in rebalancing them in our own system. In an ideal world, the yogi has mastery over themself and this is said to begin with having mastery over the five elements and their proper functioning within us.

Finding the Sweet Space

How I have come to understand this in my own embodied experience, life and practice is that we all have each of these five elements within us but some are more latent and others more overt. And thus as we grow and evolve it is a process of calling forth the more latent ones and lovingly softening the more overt ones until we can find that sweet space of harmony and balance. For me personally, Fire comes easily, this has meant amazing shifts and transformations on my path, but also that I have had to learn to cultivate more watery fluidly and flexibility in my life to avoid burning out or setting myself and others on fire!

Which Element is most alive in you?

So what element is most alive in you? Which ones are clamouring to come out? What does each element have to offer you?


So earth, sweet earth, her gift to us is stability, grounding and palpable structure. We want to call in more earth when we feel unanchored, untethered or scattered in our lives.

five elements earth


Water, graceful flowing water offers us flow, fluidity and adaptability. We can call in water when we feel we have got stuck or stagnant in our lives.

five elements water


Space does what is says, it brings in freedom and space in mind, body and spirit. We can call in space when our life has started to feel constricted, contracted or if we feel cramped in any way.


Air is all about movement and motion. Again we can invite air into our lives when we feel that something needs to move or shift.

five elements air


And lastly fire is all about transformation, fanning the flames of action and change. We can invoke the fire element into our lives when we are in need of a change, when we need a catalyst to bring growth long overdue.

five elements fire

Five Great Life Allies

We can embark on these elements in our yoga practice but also in the environments we surround ourselves with, the food we eat, the company we keep. When you start to view and understand the world from the context of the five elements suddenly you will feel armed with these five great life allies.

Can you notice which elements are dominant in your life?

So I invite you to take the time this week to reflect on the five elements within you and your life….as you contemplate this, can you notice which elements are most dominant in your life? And is this helping you live harmoniously? If not which other elements do you think might help?

This is likely to change over time depending on what is arising at each particular moment of you existence, which ultimately encourages us to be present, alert and alive to the constant shifts within and without and to use our yoga practice as a fluid, changing response to the needs of each day. The more you start to work in this way the more fluent and timely your ability to draw on whichever element is most needed in your life. In this way we can use the five elements to call us back to harmony, equilibrium and ultimately peace.

Lucy’s Five Elements Series

For an embodied experience of the elements you can practice Lucy’s Five Elements Series now available on Movement For Modern Life.

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