Dear Ritual club
As it is summer we want to get more into the body and be less in the mind. And a great way to do that is to be more outside in a conscious and present way.
Our ancestors spent most of their time in nature, but now two-thirds of the world’s population lives in cities. Because of the conveniences of modern society, most of us spend a majority of our day indoors—in our homes, at work, and in our cars. Losing touch with the natural world has even spawned a new type of malady called “nature deficit disorder”. Exposure to nature helps optimize our health in numerous ways. Research studies show that time spent in green space reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, improves heart rate variability (HRV), and reduces the incidence of strokes, hypertension, asthma, and coronary heart disease. This is proving so important that physicians are writing “green” prescriptions.
Access to nature is especially needed in urban areas. Studies show that increased tree canopy and street tree density in cities correlate with greater relaxation, better health, and altruistic behavior, whereas a low percentage of tree canopy is associated with greater stress and increased crime rates. Policymakers are becoming more motivated to create accessible green spaces in all income areas so that communities everywhere can receive the health-promoting benefits of nature. Fortunately, most of us can find a bit of nature right outside our door, providing the silence and awe that allow us to slow down and engage our senses with the natural world.
When we are disconnected from nature, our vitality declines.
Both yoga philosophy and ayurveda offer a path to healing by recognizing and restoring our connection with the five elements of the natural world—earth, water, fire, air, and space. These wisdom traditions say that nature is made up of these elements and that we are not separate from nature. These five elements manifest in us in combinations unique to each of us that strongly influence our individual constitution. When we are disconnected from nature, our vitality declines. By connecting ourselves with the five elements of nature, we nourish these elements in us, bringing balance, healing, and a sense of well-being—provided that we work to keep our natural environment clean and healthy. By engaging with any or all of these elements, healing and rejuvenation becomes an enjoyable and invigorating journey.
Scientific research has been confirming the ancient wisdom of yoga and ayurveda. Let’s look at each of the elements, their inherent qualities, and what modern science has to say about how connecting with the five elements contributes to our health and wellbeing.
Earth: In ayurveda, the earth element is associated with the qualities of stability, calmness, solidity, strength, and nurturance. Connecting with the earth supports these qualities in us. It helps us feel more stable, grounded, and calm. How often do you walk with your feet in the dirt—or in sand or on grass? Our ancestors walked with bare feet and slept on the ground. Now we spend all our time walking on carpets and asphalt. Modern science confirms the earth’s calming and stabilizing effect on us. Research shows that walking barefoot out-of-doors, known as grounding or earthing, improves our sleep, decreases inflammation, and reduces pain by reconnecting us with the earth’s electrons. This research has found that this connection helps the body to “equilibrate with the electrical potential of the earth, thereby stabilizing the electrical environment of all organs, tissues, and cells.”
To bring more balance to the earth element be barefoot in the grass or sand, take care of plants and get your hands in the dirt, lie down in nature any chance you get.
Water: The water element is cooling, soothing, and flowing. Its moisture is life sustaining. We are drawn to waterfalls, creeks, rivers, lakes, seashores, and even a decorative water fountain. Why? Being near water in nature, called blue space, is not just pleasing to the eyes and ears. Research, while still in its early stages, suggests that being near water has a positive effect on mental health, stress levels, and sense of wellbeing, while also promoting physical activity. It’s good to get a regular dose of “vitamin sea.”
A particular gift of waterfalls and seashores is that they generate negative ions through a phenomenon called spray electrification, or the Lenard effect, which occurs when water droplets bump into each other. Negative ions have multiple health benefits. Studies have shown that negative air ionization is associated with lower depression scores. Other research has revealed faster reaction times, less anxiety, and improved antimicrobial activity. For those of us who don’t live near a seashore or waterfall, plants release varying amounts of negative ions under natural growth conditions, depending on the size and shape of the leaves and the intensity of light. This is one reason that aloe vera plants have become a household companion. Even natural bodies of water as tiny as dewdrops can enhance our wellbeing: according to yoga science, walking through dew-covered grass in the morning is a great source of prana (life force) for the mind and body.
To bring more balance to the water element, drink more water (spring water when you can), get into natural springs, cold rivers or the sea any chance you get, and take a relaxing bath as a weekly ritual.
Fire: Fire has the qualities of heat, light, and transformative power. The sun is a ball of fire; its heat, light, and energy are the powerhouse behind the growth and development of all life on earth. The benefits of sunlight are many, beginning with helping us balance our circadian rhythms, which are geared to the natural light and dark cycles of the day. Balancing these cycles helps us improve our mood and sleep, as well as overcome jet lag.
The sun is also an important source of vitamin D3, which is associated with healthy bones. In addition, it has been found that people who suffer from persistent pain have a vitamin D deficiency caused by a lack of sunlight. The sun’s ultraviolet B (UVB) energy creates vitamin D3 in the skin, which makes spending time in the sun in warm weather a good way to get this vitamin. The amount of vitamin D3 we derive from the sun depends in part on the type of skin we have (the lighter our skin, the less sun exposure we need) and in part on the intensity of the sun, which varies with the season and with our geographical location. Our ability to synthesize vitamin D3 from the sun decreases with age. Studies suggest that for those of us with light skin, it takes 10–20 minutes of exposing our face and arms, with no sunscreen, to non-burning midday sun in summer to derive 3,000 IU of vitamin D3, whereas for those of us with dark skin, it may take 30–45 minutes. In the colder months in northern areas, it is difficult to generate significant amounts of vitamin D from sunlight, so taking vitamin D supplements has been recommended. Using a sunblock with an SPF of 15 will block 99 percent of our skin’s ability to produce vitamin D3.
Connect to the fire element be “SUN WISE” and bath wisely in the sun for the healing benefits (as naked as you can), without sunscreen or sunglasses, just let your eyes and skin absorb as much as you can. In the fall and winter light candles, and connect to other people. Practice your will power and inner fire by making a “tapas” ( hindu word for self-dicipline) to stop something bad for you or start something healthy.
Air: In ayurveda, air has the qualities of movement and lightness. It circulates, carrying a wide variety of airborne particles and substances, including negative ions from water spray, fragrances, pollens, and, of course, oxygen. Forests are the lungs of the planet—exchanging the carbon dioxide we breathe out for the oxygen that we breathe in. A less known fact is that forests also release into the air natural aromatherapy in the form of antimicrobial volatile compounds called phytoncides (found in tree essential oils) such as α-pinene and limonene. Phytoncides in forests have been found to boost our immune function, including antitumor and antioxidant effects. Evergreen conifers like pine, cedar, and spruce are the largest producers of phytoncides.
So working with the air element can be doing breathwork daily, getting out of the city into better quality of air, and also having a non toxic home with lots of open windows and air flowing though. Movement is also connected to that element, so running, moving in any way can bring balance to the air element in your life.
Space: The essence of stress is feeling constrained with limited options. Space is the very antithesis of limitations; it is by definition open and limitless. It holds and contains all the other elements and is the place where all five elements come together. We can feel the solid foundation of soil beneath our feet, the sensation of the sun’s warmth on our back, and the gentle breezes tousling our hair. Natural green space inspires us and allows us time to unplug from technology and nourish our senses. The very sights and sounds of nature keep our awareness in the present moment and away from worries about the future or memories of the past. We can find ourselves, and each other, in an environment that offers us space to come into balance.
To work with the space element include meditation in your daily practice, simplify your life and surroundings and listen to relaxing binaural beaths (we put binaural beats background sound in the element meditation and the breathwork practice)
It is our nature to be in nature. When stress and strain tug at us, we need to come home to the elements that created us and our world. Walk barefoot in the garden, take a stroll in the park, sit by a fountain, or gaze at the evening sky—whatever quiets your mind and opens your heart. Nature is our eternal companion.
Take 5 minutes to journal and take inventory of what qualities (of the elements) you need more of in your life, and connect more to that/those elements this month!
THEME OF THE MONTH TALK
Dagný sits down to discuss why we chose this theme, how and why we should get inspired and balance with the elements.
We are in full venus mode this summer, taking better care of ourselves and indulging in that. So we thought we would recommend one of our favourite books by one of our natural beauty idols, Nadine Artemis. In this essential full-color guide, Nadine Artemis introduces readers to the concept of "renegade" beauty—a practice of doing less and allowing the elements and the life force of nature to revive the body, skin, and soul so our natural radiance can shine through. Anyone stuck in perpetual loops of new products, facials, and dermatologist appointments will find answers as Artemis illuminates the energizing elements of sun, fresh air, water, the earth, and plants. This book is a comprehensive resource for anyone who wants to simplify their self-care routine, take their health into their own hands, and discover their own radiant beauty.
ELEMENT MEDITATION - 7 MIN
We wanted to give you a soundfile meditation to listen to anywhere this summer. This is a guided element meditation to balance and restore with binaural beats under the guiding to decrease stress and relax. Download the file and keep it on your phone to listen to wherever you are.
BREATHWORK WITH DAGNÝ - 15 MIN
A simple yet powerful breathwork made to relax your nervous system and release tension. Do it again and again, listen to yourself with the length of holding the breath.
Ritual Chat with Heiðrún
We are so happy to introduce you to HEIÐRÚN MARÍA, a yoga teacher, cacao ceremonialist, energy alchemist that is on her beautiful journey of following her heart. She is magnetic and inspirational. She talk about her story and journey towards authenticity, using the elements to heal and have fun, how to train your intuition and more!
& DM her to book a session or start a conversation with her!
Ritual recipe of the month
MINTY GREEN SMOOTHIE BOWL
In high summer/pitta season we need things to cool us down! We love making random smoothie bowls with what we have and decorating them with original ways, Dagný´s son Börkur calls this icecream and looooves it. Here is a recipe that sneaks in some greens but is still sweet and fresh.
- 3/4 cup almond milk
- Handful of spinach
- 1 frozen banana
- Half an avocado
- Handful of mint
- Optional: a little bit of spirulina
- Any granola for topping
- Optional toppings: any fruits you have, coconut flakes, hemp seeds.
HOW TO :
Place all smoothie base ingredients, except for granola and toppings into a high powered blender. Pro-tip: It’s best to add in liquid ingredients a little at a time for desired smoothie consistency. Blend on high until thick and creamy. Pour smoothie in a bowl and place it in the freezer for 5 minutes to set. Remove from freezer, and get creative with toppings and how they are placed. Let the colors, shapes and textures of the ingredients inspire you, and remember to eat with your eyes first!
ZOOM MEET UP - JULY 20th
Book club chat, element chat & an wonderful healing meditation <3