Ayurveda Elements - Healing Principles of Health

In Ayurvedic philosophy, the Five Great Elements (Pancha Mahabhuta) make up our natural world. These Five Ayurveda Elements can also be attributed to the different manifestations of Human Consciousness because of their similarly clear, subtle, mystical, and omnipresent qualities. The relationship between the Five Elements is a dance amongst themselves and originates from the First Element, Ether, otherwise known as Space. In turn, Ether becomes Air causing friction to create Fire, becoming denser into Water and finally coagulating into Earth. Therefore, all Five Elements become contained in Earth as one.

Just as the natural world provides macro-ecology, the individual experiences a micro-ecology reflected by the natural world around them. Ayurvedic principles provide the tools to unite our inner ecology with our external ecology to build harmony. The principles aim to bring focus and balance to the Five Ayurveda Elements (Air, Fire, Water, Earth, Ether/Space) both internally and externally to restore and bring forth optimum mental and physical health emotionally and spiritually.

This article will highlight the Five Great Ayurvedic Elements of the three Doshas and your Constitution, explaining why each is unique and how you can discover their qualities during an Ayurvedic retreat, both inside and outside.

Ayurveda Elements, Ayurveda Elements
How to understand the Ayurveda Elements?
Table of Contents

What are The Five Ayurveda Elements?

The Ayurveda elements are Air, Fire, Water, Earth and Ether.

Ayurveda Elements, Ayurveda Elements
Ether Element
Akasha (Ether, Space)

The Ether Element, known in Sanskrit as The Akasha is considered to be the first and most subtle element. In Sanskrit, it translates to “all-enclosing, omnipresent or all-pervading.” It permeates through the cosmos and is the omnipotent force for all life, sound, vibration and creation. It is the creative life force energy that gives drive and consciousness to existence. All the openings, passages, pathways and movements in our body are what correspond to the Akasha element. There is space within our ears so we can hear sound. There is space within our throat so we can swallow. There is space within our eyes so we can look at our environment. There is space between our joints so we can move, run, walk and dance. There is space within our hearts to keep the blood flowing.

Akasha is more than just the absence of matter, it is the original form of existence to which everything, and everyone formed and to which everything, and everyone shall return to.

Vayu (Air)

The Air Element, known in Sanskrit as Vayu, not only means air as a mixture of nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide and other gases but also as a dimension of movement. Out of all of the 5 Ayurvedic Elements, Vayu is the most accessible and easiest element to gain some mastery of. Most yogic practices involve an element of breath work, called pranayama. Prana means life force in Sanskrit and is the most available to our existence every moment of the day. Without Air, we have no breath or ability to move through life. The impact of the air that we breathe is very immediate. Most people can’t go without air for more than three-and-a-half to five minutes before causing serious damage or suffocation. The qualities of Air evoke movement, ease, lightness, speed but also unpredictability and flightiness.

Ayurveda Elements, Ayurveda Elements
Air Element
Ayurveda Elements, Ayurveda Elements
Fire Element
Tejas or Agni (Fire)

The Fire Element, known in Sanskrit as Agni, is essential for your health. Agni is the intelligent force of each cell, each tissue and every system within the physical body. Metaphorically speaking, fire stands for intelligence, wit, clarity, truth, presence, and light. The element of fire lives in the physical body, keeping us “burning” and moving. This fire directs the release of hormones via the endocrine system and oversees the digestive, metabolic, and regulatory functions. Ayurveda identifies that Fire also resides in an even more subtle place: our minds. In our minds, fire provides clarity, illumination, and truth. This subtle aspect of fire is called Tejas in Ayurvedic philosophy, and it directs all mental, emotional, and spiritual activity, including the crucial mental actions of discernment and discipline. Fire is the element responsible for burning, clearing, cleansing, transforming and illuminating, but also for destruction, rage, power, impatience and recklessness.

Apas (Water)

The Water element, known in Sanskrit as “Apas”, is the Fourth great element and evolves from Ether or Space, Air and Fire because it contains all aspects of the other three elements. Apps represent fluidic matter and provide the body with basic nourishment, protection against dissolution, give motion and soothe pain and inflammation. We as humans are made up of 70-75% water. It is the element that primarily protects our body and provides it with its most fundamental nourishment. Water is healing; it protects, nourishes, and binds the body together. By its qualities, water is cooling, hydrating, heavy, smooth, stagnant or inflow. It is the antidote to the symptoms that have the opposite of these qualities such as deep sensitivity, emotionally ungrounded, dehydrated, on-edge, low self-esteem or if your heart has become hardened.

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Water Element
Ayurveda Elements, Ayurveda Elements
Earth Element
Prithvi (Earth)

The Earth element, known in Sanskrit as “Prithvi” is the fifth and final great element. It is the final element because it evolves out of all five elements and contains the essence of all. Earth represents the densification of all matter until it becomes solid. Prithvi by its quality is stable, heavy, dry, dense, hard and tangible. When you are feeling ungrounded and unearthed you may feel flighty, chaotic or stuck in your head.

The Five Ayurveda Elements and their Relationship to the Doshas

The Five Great Elements exist within all of us, and they all combine to form what is known in Ayurveda as a Dosha which forms your overall Constitution. The Dosha is the basic governing principle that forms differently in each individual’s overall makeup, in Ayurveda we call this Your Constitution. There are 3 Doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha, which are predetermined from the moment of your conception. An Ayurvedic doctor at Sen Wellness can guide you to understand what your Dosha is based on a series of questions about your lifestyle, food habits and energetic levels.

Vata is formed from the Air & Ether Elements

Its primary principle is movement and flow. Vata is that impulsive, spontaneous ease that is light-footed and gone with the wind in your hair. Vata resides in the colon, large intestines, pelvis, lower back and thighs. It is the breeze that ignites your digestion, eliminating toxins and waste. Yet it is also responsible for the flowing movement in your body, the metabolism and cellular behaviour. It is the fuel to your fire (Agni), your intellect, your passions and your intuition as it is also an integral part of your nervous system. As described earlier regarding the movements of the Elements and their relationship to one another – It also has a very key part in determining the other two Doshas; Pitta and Kapha.

Kapha is formed from the Earth & Water Elements

With its cooling and soothing properties, Water gives primary protection to the body against too much heat (Pitta) and movement (Vata). However, Kapha provides the underlying structure and foundation making way for the growth and development of matter and tissue in the body. As Kapha increases in the body, there is also an increase in thickening fluids alongside the structure of the body. Kapha provides protection and lubrication to all the body organs in the form of mucous, brain fluid and synovial fluid for the joints. Kapha mostly resides in the upper body including the respiratory system, upper stomach, mucous membranes, joints and head.

Pitta is formed from the Fire & Water Elements

The main attribute of Pitta is that of transformation. Its qualities are hot, light and flowing. Imagine Pitta as the caterpillar evolving into a beautiful butterfly out of its chrysalis or the boiling water that steams and evaporates. Pitta, like Agni, is passionate and sharp. It manifests in you as your inner confidence and passions. It is found within the body in the stomach and small intestine. It is the driving force behind your internal temperature, but also your intellect, intuition and emotions. Pitta is responsible for your metabolism, mostly impacting the blood, eyes, skin, liver, stomach, spleen and gallbladder.

The Doshas and their Imbalances

Vata is a combination of Air and Ether, it is without Fire, Water or Earth. Therefore, its properties associated with Vata dosha include dryness, coldness, mobility and lightness. It is responsible for the Central Nervous System, respiratory system and general mobility in the body. When Vata is in balance, it gives clarity, energy, enthusiasm and creativity. However, when it is out of balance it can cause nervousness, anxiety, restlessness, insomnia and digestion issues.

Pitta is a combination of Fire and Water. It has properties that include heat, a build-up of acidity or tartness and the ability to spread (think like Wild Fire). It is responsible for your metabolism, the endocrine system, speech fluency, motivation, intellect and good mental and physical digestion. When it is out of balance it can cause rage, irritability, impatience, stress and frustration. It can also cause skin irritations and gut problems.

Kapha is a combination of Water and Earth. Its properties include coldness, stability, weight and oiliness. It is responsible for the immune system and the lubrication of the body. When it is in good balance it supports strength, stamina, motivation, a healthy immune system and strong mental stability. However, when it is out of balance, there can be symptoms of lethargy, weight gain, stubbornness and depression.

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How an Ayurveda Retreat can help Balance the Elements

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Sen Wellness Sanctuary

If you keep the Five Great Elements controlled, vibrant and focused, health, wellbeing and success in the world as assured. If you want to live strong, you need to constantly be in touch with the Five Great Elements. Build resilience with the Elements.

Dr Harnika, Sen Wellness Ayurvedic Doctor

When you arrive at The Sanctuary, each guest will have a private consultation with our Resident Ayurvedic Doctor. The primary focus for our practitioners at Sen Wellness is to discover the root cause of dis-ease, whether that be due to certain lifestyle choices, stress, medical prerequisites or emotional imbalances. You will then be prescribed a comprehensive, personalised programme of treatments and herbal medicines depending on your constitution and any imbalances present. Ayurvedic practitioners share the belief that disease (dis-ease) begins from within. The emotional and mental dis-ease that forms in the guise of anxiety, depression or stress perpetuates a build-up of negativity in the system, which can lead to a manifestation of painful physical ailments such as muscle aches, digestion problems, lethargy or skin irritations. The symptoms of these ailments can be identified by our highly qualified Ayurvedic doctors who can diagnose even the most subtle issues forming in the body. These symptoms are then identified and addressed with bodywork treatments such as massage, diet, herbal remedies, yoga and breathwork exercises.

The 5 Treatments you can expect at an Ayurvedic Retreat with Sen Wellness

  • Ayurvedic Massage
  • Diet
  • Herbal Medicine
  • Yoga
  • Breathwork

This is the holistic approach that we create at Sen Wellness Sanctuary during your retreat to encourage your whole being to come into full balance with the Great Five Elements and your constitution.

Schedule at the Sanctuary

During your retreat at Sen Wellness Sanctuary, your daily routine revolves around the Ayurvedic principles known in Sanskrit as dinacharya, meaning “to be close to the day”. This routine is deeply in touch with the rhythms of nature, the cycles of the earth, moon and sun.

Waking at Dawn with a refreshing herbal tea, alongside the animals and nature surrounding the Sanctuary, allows you to tune in with the day from the beginning. Starting your day with a Yoga class is the best way to kick-start your Agni (Fire) so that you feel energised for the day. The daily pranayama breathwork opens your Vayu (Air) and Akasha (Ether, Space) elements.

After Yoga, you are welcome to swim in the Indian Ocean or the cool Sanctuary Pool, connecting with the water allows you to refresh and connect with your apas (Water).

A healthy but light breakfast is served after Yoga, based on a tailor-made Ayurvedic diet to support your constitution, food is the medicine of the Earth and brings you deeper into connection with your internal Prithvi (Earth) element. At the Sanctuary, your diet consists of a selection of home-cooked and raw vegetables and little-to-no dairy products.

The rest of your day is open to rest, relaxation, or a local excursion to the surrounding areas. All your treatments are scheduled during the day so you can enjoy your prescribed Ayurvedic massage and treatments in a peaceful, natural environment. This routine provides a structure that supports your internal system to restore balance and harmony to your biological and emotional balance. During your stay, this routine will support you with a greater toolkit of self-care practices that you will be able to integrate back home.

Everything at the highest level.A unique, authentic place at the highest level.Atmosphere, ambience, food, treatments, doctors, yoga, accommodation - ideal place for retreat for body, soul and mind.5 nights there is an absolute minimum:)Thank you Sen Wellness Sanctuary and see you soon
Dominika M
18:02 20 Jun 22
Sam and the team and SEN Wellness have done a fantastic job of creating a space for healing, rejuvenation and connecting to natureI spent 10 days at the sanctuary in April and to this day I am still struggling to put the experience in to words that could do it justice..!The whole experience there was truly magical - from the location and immersion in nature, the daily structure, community with other guests, the food, yoga and cacao ceremony. Not only was there opportunities to experience and heal during the stay but I also felt there was so much I was able to learn and take away / take back in to 'normal' life to continue the process.Litsa - the yoga teacher during our stay - was incredible at holding space and taking the group where they needed to go as a collective and really opened my eyes to another depth of yoga that I didn't know existed.I'd recommend SEN Wellness Sanctuary in a heartbeat and felt privileged to witness and be a small part of the the transformations I saw in people through their stay. Thank you!
Grant M.
00:09 19 Jun 22
Sen Wellness Sanctuary was exactly what I needed to start my healing journey with myself. I did the 7 day package (and honestly kind of wish I had done the 10 day instead.) I came to Sen feeling the stress and trauma of the last 3 years of the pandemic and working long hours at a remote job for an international NGO. I came with the intention to focus on my health issues, recommit to a yoga and meditation practice, and explore with ayurvedic practitioners some of my health issues that had developed due to stress. I am happy to say I got what I came for.The staff of the sanctuary - from the front desk coordinators and managers to the ayurvedic doctor to the ayurvedic practitioners, and service staff and cooks were so kind and helpful, attending to any issue that might arise. In particular I'd like to thank Dr. Harnika (the doctor), Madhu & Neeranjana (front desk coordinators), Prema (who served tea every morning), Rupika (my ayurvedic practitioner), and all the other ayurvedic practitioners and wait staff boys who helped serve food, clean rooms, etc.I also had consultations with Sam Kankanamge, the founder, at my request ahead of booking to discuss some of my needs, as well as with Davia, an international coordinator. I found everyone to be very responsive, which I appreciated.The yoga instructor, Litsa, who led the morning and evening yoga classes and meditation during my stay was incredible and I learnt a lot from her practice and really appreciated my one-on-one with her. The use of sound meditation/healing via the use of a gong was really amazing as well. Litsa really helped to focus those of us at the retreat on our healing journey. She was a real rock. Her yoga practice is really spiritual, nurturing, and also high intensity, which I really enjoyed. (Note that the yoga practitioners rotate, so I'm speaking towards the person who was there during my stay.)The ayurvedic treatments and acupuncture were divine and a lot of care was taken to do them well. I felt relaxed and refreshed after all of them.As someone of Sri Lankan descent who now lives in the United States, it was really healing for me to get the kind of care I wanted in my mother country. I felt really taken care of and respected, and I'm glad I invested in myself by coming to this retreat.I also appreciated the international nature of the retreat - and made many lovely friendships through the experience with other guests who were there at the same time. There's a special kind of bonding and relationship building that happens from eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner together with all the guests at one long table, which I appreciated.The food served at the retreat is super healthy - a lot of typical Sri Lankan dishes, primarily vegan. I enjoyed the variety in the menus. I even enjoyed the juice cleanses I partook in.If you're looking for a typical "holiday" that's not what you're going to get here. This felt like a very spiritual and intentional sanctuary, particularly for people who are trying to heal themselves and take care of themselves. Having done the research before heading to Sen, I got exactly what I was hoping for and more -- be prepared to put in work and to be committed to the journey.In addition, Rekawa Beach, which is a few minutes walk from the Sanctuary is one of the most stunning and tranquil beaches I have ever seen. While it isn't necessarily safe to swim, it was really healing to go there early morning and evening to watch sunrises and sunsets. This is a turtle nesting beach and it was truly a joy to watch massive turtles lay their eggs on the beach, a once in a lifetime opportunity.I also really enjoyed a boat ride through Rekawa Lagoon, the sounds of the mangroves, and the sweet monkeys who watch you from the trees when you do yoga in the shalet.While it's a difficult time for Sri Lanka, I highly encourage people to support the economy, invest in your own well-being and healing, and experience this very intentional and caring retreat.
Thanu Y.
16:48 18 May 22
I’ve never felt so alive for such a long time! All thanks to my decision to visit Sen Wellness Sanctuary. I have been on autopilot with my daily life, work & even breathing for the longest time I could remember!Sen Wellness had helped me appreciate having a healthy routine, learn to love Yoga and understand the importance of breathing.The sanctuary is a real epitome of inner peace! All the staff both from London office & in Sri Lanka were oh so lovely! And the guests I was with during my stay were all so awesome! The country itself is gorgeous! All these helped make my stay all worth the while..Because of my experience, I can say that I will definitely do this again! I highly recommend that you try this out 🙂
Zulkatro D.
09:16 12 May 22
Ich war im März dort und habe das 10 Tages Spring Awakening Retreat mitgemacht. Alles in allem war es großartig. Ich habe einen sehr stressigen Alltag und das Retreat hat mir sehr geholfen mich wieder auf mich zu besinnen, abzuschalten und vor allem auch nachhaltig neue Routinen mit in meinen Alltag zu nehmen. Das Team ist großartig - super kompetent, super freundlich und super hilfsbereit. Es gibt nichts, das nicht möglich gemacht wird. Die Ausstattung ist hell und freundlich, Betten super gemütlich, das Essen ist phantastisch, die Ayurveda Ärztinnen super kompetent und ich hatte noch nie bessere Massagen als dort. Ich bin wirklich rund um begeistert und werde definitiv noch einmal wiederkommen. Die Lage ist abseits vom Trubel an einem naturbelassenen und geschützten, kilometerlangen Strand (an den sich kaum Menschen verirren). Morgens sieht man sogar Schildkröten ins Meer wandern. Also, top!
Tatjana W.
07:35 26 Apr 22
Most special and magical place !!The sanctuary is totally immersed in Nature in between a stunning wild beach hosting sea turtles and a large lagoon.The entire team is really amazing, extremely kind and super talented. The food is healthy, delicious and all meals are prepared with local products.The cabanas are super confortable, peaceful and perfectly neat.Had the most amazing experience I highly recommend ✨
Zine J.
16:49 23 Apr 22
I am a Holistic Health Practitioner, and I also work in the HR department of a not-for-profit institution. I found out about Sen Wellness Center through AFAR. I decided to fly to Sri Lanka from Washington D C to visit this Sanctuary. Upon my arrival at 11:30 p.m. I was received with a warm and kind smile from Maduro. From the moment you step into this Sanctuary you are treated with compassion and kindness. The manager and his entire staff are always attentive and caring, making sure all of our need were met. The food is nutritious and wholesome made by a chef who is always smiling. The Ayurveda Doctor, and the healing hands of the staff during the Ayurveda treatments, and last but not least the kind voice of an elderly lady who would wake us up at 5:30 with a warm cup of tea.All of the three yoga teachers were good. In particular, Flame! She is extraordinary, knowledgeable, and inspiring... During a meditation around a fire, she was able to open the hearts of nine strangers so that they were able to see the beauty and strength within each other and complement each other. This was an amazing attribute to everyone who came to this Sanctuary to get closer to their inner Self.My experience from this visit is that this is truly a Sanctuary, and I am grateful to everyone from the staff in the office in London, UK, to everyone in Sri Lanka.I was fare welled at 4:30 a.m., again, with a kind and warm smile from Maduro.Thank you!
Hoori J.
12:52 07 Apr 22
People from all over the world who are looking for peace and relaxation meet here, together with monkeys ;-), turtles, peacocks ..... and a fantastic, huge sea with a deserted beach.Everyone will find what they are looking for: a wonderfully designed retreat, dreamlike nature, soothing treatments, very well guided asanas and pranayamas, relaxation .... and fine food!We enjoyed it very much! Thank you!
Manuela
11:09 30 Mar 22
Must visit this amazing place, a great yoga 🧘🏾‍♀️ healing & spiritual also a delicious vegan food. Thank you Sen Wellness team 🤍🙏🤍
Silvana K.
08:02 23 Mar 22
A magical gem set amongst the Rekewa lagoon and the Indian Ocean. Sen Wellness has been an extraordinary experience that I will cherish.I reached out to Sen Wellness when I was going through a pit in my life and was in search of self-direction and self-love. I was beyond grateful for the opportunity and collaboration that Sam, Davia and Camilla had offered me in order for me to visit the sanctuary and make this trip possible. They didn’t have to do that but they did and they are incredibly generous for it ♥️I was looking forward to visiting the sanctuary for the weeks before and all that I had hoped for had exceeded all my expectations! From their very kind staff, the lovingly prepared meals, the in-depth Ayurvedic treatments, the relaxing nature and the luxury accommodation. This really is the place to be if you need reawaken yourself or find yourself.I felt welcomed right away and the team is very inclusive of the guests with it’s family-type of community. My first friend in the sanctuary was Fiametta who is an amazing yoga instructor and retreat host. She really made my stay exceptional and she picked me up even when I was mentally down at times and always gave me the reassurance to uplift me. What a star she is! ⭐️If you are in search of something, or if you feel lost or need a break from the stresses of reality. Sen Wellness Sanctuary is the place with all the tools to help you put yourself back together. You have the amazing staff to help you, the Ayurvedic treatments to heal you, the other like-minded guests to support you and the perfect location to build you.I’m ever so blessed to have come here. Every sunset was golden by sea. Every smile was beautiful to see. I left the Sanctuary feeling the best version of myself. Thank you for this great experience and I am very lucky to have come ♥️
Nadia M.
16:30 10 Mar 22
Thank you thank you thank you 🙏🏽 what a journey this has been. Life has a way of brining you just where you are meant to be, if you are able to open your heart to the magic that is all around. Sen wellness Sanctuary is a place of great healing and Ayurvedic discovery. Greeting the days every morning on the beach with the golden sunrise yoga and turtles walking back to shore after a night of hatching, the sunset yoga with monkeys greeting us from the yoga shala and gratitude sharing circles, the delicious and detoxifying Ayurvedic food, the beauty of the architecture, Venerable Nimale and his transcendental gong baths, the sounds of nature all around and tuning into the cycles of nature. I wish for everyone that decides to embark on their journey in Sen wellness to enjoy every moment and savour the tropical lifestyle. Another beautiful thing about Sen wellness is that is Sri Lankan owned and all the staff the cooks, doctors, receptionists and all the helpers are Sri Lankan and soooo lovely, they really made my experience so tender. A real plus to know you are supporting the local communities. And it mixes well with the 2 hosts and yoga teachers that are usually European to create a sustaining bridge between two cultures. The healing journey back home to myself! I will back 😘😘😘
Fiammetta V.
04:33 02 Mar 22
This place is so beautiful, near incredible pure beach and lake, far away from all the hustleAmazing programme, yoga, aurvedic treatments and foodMe and my friend have had rejuvenating time and very grateful for spiritual findings we’ve got there
Mariya G.
15:46 01 Mar 22
I’d describe my experience here as “peace & tranquility”. The atmosphere is so relaxing and quiet, everything was just great from food to practice.. Highly recommend the place to find a harmony in within and if you’re looking for an escape from city hustle & noise.
Anna
08:29 01 Mar 22
Incredible place. Nice individuell boutique Ayurveda-Hotel in the nature. I had a 10 days treatment- was really authentic and super organized!Thanks again for all!Andreas
Andreas W.
18:05 28 Feb 22
Amazing! Amazing! Amazing! thankyou for introducing me to Ayurvedic Healing from your beautiful location. Healthy Body and Mind Balance.
John W.
12:51 28 Feb 22
Ayurveda Elements, Ayurveda Elements

The Final Word

In conclusion, Ayurvedic teachings aim to bring awareness to the Five Great Elements (Air, Fire, Water, Earth, Ether/Space) both internally and externally of ourselves, to restore and balance our internal and external health. They combine in various ways, in different proportions to form your individual body type and constitution. This constitution is then determined by the predominant Doshas (Vata, Kapha, Pitta) within you.

At Sen Wellness Sanctuary, we have not only specifically designed our treatment program but also the layout of our building to compliment your wellness journey. This exemplifies the importance of your external world mirroring your internal world and our intention to support you in finding total restoration and balance.

Author

Ayurveda Elements, Ayurveda Elements
Sam Kankanamge

Sam Kankanamge BSc (Hons) Osteo, DPO, Dip.Acu is an exceptional, world renowned healthcare professional, with over 25 years-experience transforming patients’ health.