A Journey Through The Elements With Janet Stone
Cover Photo By Nina Konjini.
“There is no performance in Yoga. There is simply the path of our own personal vulnerability.” - Janet Stone
EARTH I WATER I FIRE I AIR I AKASHA
By Deidre Norman
When you leave a Janet Stone yoga class, you feel grounded, rooted, nourished, expansive, open and connected to everything, and all at the same time! She truly incorporates the 5 elements--Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Akasha--in each and every class! This coupled with her devotion (and her beautiful voice, of course) is what has kept me coming back to her classes for over 12 years now.
My path of teaching yoga began in 2007 at Yoga Tree, with Janet Stone as one of my teachers; and all of these years later, she still continues to inspire me. It is so beautiful to see how she has continued on this devotional path and continues to inspire, encourage and uplift all of those around her. So, when I saw that she was teaching the 5 elements course, I just knew I had to be there!
While Janet is a true inspiration to me, I had no idea going into the 5 elements training, just how transformative this week would be for me. As I arrived on day one, we dove into the Earth Element. What I did not expect was that right from day one, I could feel a transformation happening within me. I was reviewing my notes from the training, and on day one, in big letters I wrote down, “Absolutely Transformative!” We did not just learn about the Earth Element. We embodied it.
Each day of the training started in meditation, we dropped deep into ourselves before anything else. A few of the days we were brought out of meditation by the most magical live music. Two of the artists who blessed us with their music were Nat Kendell and Egemen Sanli. We would chant a mantra, all together, 108 rounds. Each mantra was chosen to go along with the element we were learning that day, and there was a mudra to go along with our chanting. We were then seamlessly guided through a physical practice, and each day it would tie in perfectly to the element we were studying. It was as if she took us on a journey through ourselves each day with the elements as our guides.
The second part of the day started with Janet sharing stories of the Hindu Gods + Goddesses and how they were connected to the elements, which I loved! Next she shared her deep knowledge and understanding of the elements and would have us connect back in with ourselves, by asking us to answer questions that took us deeper and deeper into our truths. We would then connect with others in the training. It flowed effortlessly, magically - just like the elements.
One of the powerful messages for me, was how all of these elements need to be present at all times in order to be living a whole + happy life. It is when we are in this state of balance with the elements, that all things are possible. In order for us to be in the state of flow, our water element, we must first be in our foundation. We must be grounded. It is from this stability within the mobility, that we have the strength to move into the fire. To burn through our samskaras/karmas and to transform and transcend. The fire element is what helps to keep working through our barriors and boundaries, so that we can step into our true selves - our higher selves. Once we move through this fire, we are able to move into our souls vision (our sankalpa), the air element, our heart center. This is where we breathe! And then it is from here, that we move into true spaciousness, higher consciousness, the akasha. This is our true nature.
There was so much I learned from this week of training, we learned about the qualities of the elements, the Bija Mantras, and the dieties associated with each element. We learned the karmic actions, asanas and the pranayamass that went along with each element. This list could go on and on, but what was most amazing to me, was that I finished the training feeling each of the elements in my own self. I embodied each element and became aware of the subtleties of each one of them. Janet has such a gift to be able to impart upon her students all of the linear thinking facts, that we think we really need to know. But her true gift was going beyond that, her ability to truly take us on daily journeys through the elements.
"Yoga allows us to receive wisdom beyond our ordinary drama.” - Janet Stone