The first of the mahabhutas is prithvi or earth. When I think of the earth element, I think of stability, grounding, earthiness, nurture. My experience is that I can more deeply connect to this element in ourselves by emphasizing what John Friend has termed “muscular energy” in my yoga practice.
As with all practices from an Anusara perspective, I try to start with the principle of “opening to grace.” In this context, opening to grace can mean being sensitive to our earthiness and how it manifests energetically in us. I have found that it can lead to my foundation and connection to the earth and invite a soft weightiness.
Muscular energy has three essential physical/energetic actions: (1) hugging all of the muscles to the bone; (2) drawing to the midline (our central energetic channel); and (3) drawing energy from the periphery to the focal point of the pose. See J. Friend, Anusara Teacher Training Manual (Anusara Press, The Woodlands, TX). These three actions combined help stabilize us; they nurture by inviting us to give ourselves an unceasing self-embrace initiated from our opening to the good in the energies around us (like the loving hug of an “earth mother”); and they bring our focus from the physical extremities to our core, thus reminding us to bring our physical body to the support of the energetic body and spirit.
When I am feeling ungrounded, unsettled, or needing a little love, I remind myself to emphasize muscular energy and open to and invite in the light-filled energy all around me.