The Five Elements

Definition - What does The Five Elements mean?

The theory of The Five Elements emerged in ancient China and was developed by the Taoists and mystics. It states that everything in the universe emerges from the Tao and is manifested as the dual and opposing principles of yin and yang. According to Taoist philosophy, these elements form the energetic building blocks of all material substances in the world. This energy is then expressed in nature as The Five Elements.

The concept of The Five Elements is mirrored in ancient yogic philosophy and is found in traditions such as Hinduism and Ayurveda. According to these traditions, The Five Elements refer to the basic building blocks that construct the world around us. They are: wood, fire, earth, metal and water.

It is said that knowledge of The Five Elements is beneficial to developing an advanced yoga practice because these elements help one understanding the body and mind as well as the world humanity lives in.

Yogapedia explains The Five Elements

This theory has been used as a tool in traditional Chinese medicine for more than 2,000 years to diagnose and treat illness. It is still used today by acupuncturists.

The Five Elements are each associated with different body parts, qualities and characteristics. These are:

  1. Wood - the liver, gall bladder, eyes and tendons. Associated with anger and the color green.
  2. Fire - the heart, tongue and the pulse. Associated with joy and the color red.
  3. Earth - the spleen, stomach, mouth and muscles. Associated with pensiveness and the color yellow.
  4. Metal - the lungs, nose and skin. Associated with sadness and the color white.
  5. Water - the kidneys, ears and bones. Associated with fear and the color black.

Some consider The Five Elements to be metaphors for the interactions and relationships we perceive around us, rather than describing the exact scientific composition of the material world. It is said that everything in the universe is made up of a unique combination of these five elements, including people, organizations, plants, music and art. Examining life from the perspective of The Five Elements can lead to greater insight and understanding.

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