An Archetypal Invitation to the New Consciousness

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The centre of the Universal Yoga Mandala Poster is designed to be used as a reference chart for integrating awareness of the 5 Elements into yoga practice, meditation, and daily life. It can also be used as a self-diagnostic tool to correct your own long term and short term imbalances.

The best way to learn about the 5 Elements and yoga is to have a Universal Yoga Mandala in your house and to return to it often to contemplate the information encoded within it. The materials presented here are a collection of writings that may shed further light on your studies.

Winged in Fire and Water, Resting on Heaven and Earth,
Cloaked in Space, I sing the Songlines Home

Please Note: Words in yellow are from the text of the Universal Yoga Mandala Poster

Distilled from a discussion between AzurFreeYogi and Firebird - the CoCreators of the UniversalYogamandala

The five elements are one of the ultimate models of existence, they are on of the most universal insights of the worlds ancient philosophies. In Sanskrit they are known as the pancha-maha-buthas, the five great states of existence. In Greece the Pythagorean school linked the elements with the five Platonic solids and made them a centrepiece of their geometric model of the universe. The Chinese based their system of science and medicine on the cycles of energy through the five elements.
Often if a tradition presents itself as having four elements, it is because the fifth element is being kept secret. The fifth element is the unifying vertical axis to the 'four directions'. All phenomena are contained within space, so space is the unifying factor. In Greece the dodecahedron was a secret shared only with initiates.

Five is the smallest number that has the instability and chaos that can allow living processes to thrive. Five embodies the self-referencing relationship of the 'Golden Mean'. This is why the DNA, the patterns that encodes all life on earth is structured upon the five sided symmetry of the handdodecahedron.

Everything can be embraced within the scheme of the five elements. It connects things. For instance it connects sound to spaciousness.
It connects a behavior of non-harm and commitment to the qualities of consolidation,solidity and stability. The UniversalYogaMandala makes visible the internal relationships between the elements on all planes of existence.

The five Elements have a unifying quality.
First you get oneness then duality, then you get the five, then as the Chinese say - the 10,000 things.
The five elements make the intangible tangible.
It's the 'viscosity of omnipotence'. Omnipotence is very slippery, whereas the five elements gives viscosity to omnipotence.


The Universal Yoga Mandala's imagery and information helps you to reconnect with the elemental realms. It works with the elemental energies through sacred geometry to harmonise and align all levels of being. You will find that if you go to an unspoiled natural place, and use Yoga or other practices, you can open yourself to the Earth, the Water, the Fire, the Wind, and the Spirit - and they will help you to bring through a new level of awareness and a new clarity of purpose. You may even discover that the whole landscape is an artwork that has been sculpted by Elemental hands over the millennia, just as they have fashioned the exquisite biological miracle of your body and its sensory organs.

"Matter is a swarming of Elementary consciousness ready to enter into the higher combinations of the organic world" Tielhard de Chardin

"The analysis of the fundamental unity of all phenomena into 5 interdependent Elements or qualities is a time honored alchemical practice. Here they are presented as the 5 petals of the flower of the Mandala, and metaphorically named: Space, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. All phenomena can be classified into these 5 categories.
Yoga philosophy calls them the 'Pan-cha-maha-bhutas' which means the five great states of material existence. The innermost circle of the Mandala names the element, its associated sense and body or 'sheath'. The senses are hearing, touching, seeing, tasting & smelling. The 5 sheaths are the causal, intellectual, psychological, physiological & anatomical bodies. The 5 pointed star, or pentacle, incorporates the 'Golden Mean' proportions and is intimately connected to the structure of the DNA, the blueprint of life on Earth. "

The five types of poses (Asanas)
will develop the qualities of their associated element.
Likewise, the five disciplines of Yama or Niyama will help one with the types of asana of the element.
The affirmations can also be used to work on developing a particular element's qualities.

For instance, practicing backbends (Fire) will energise you and develop qualities such as creativity and courage,
and the practice of openness (asteya) or austerity (tapas)
will help to develop your flexibility and strength in these poses.
The affirmation "enthusiastically love burns within me, combusting all pride and self-condemnation"
will also develop your psychological body (manomayakosha)."

All text in Yellow on this page is straight from the UniversalYogaMandala poster.


This section is distilled from a discussion between AzurFreeYogi and Firebird
who are the co-creators of the UniversalYogaMandala poster.


It's time more than ever before to draw upon the best we have in ourselves, to bring peace and a sense of purpose into our lives and into society. Peace begins within - therefore the most essential path to peace is the cultivation of personal harmony.

Yoga is not just the systems of physical exercise that it is often identified with in the western world. Yoga is a name for any path that leads beyond the illusion of separation from the whole - any discipline that removes the blockages to blissful awareness of reality as it is. There are many different types of yoga. For instance there is the yoga of devotion, Bhakti yoga, and the yoga of understanding, Jnana yoga.

The yoga that involves working toward the perfection of the physical body is properly known as Hatha yoga. Hatha yoga means union of the dualistic forces - ha means Sun and tha means Moon and yoga means union.
Yoga practice means exploring and mastering the forces within the body and mind.
In this sense many martial arts, and some traditions of dance are also yoga systems.
All exercise explores the nature of spacetime
as it involves the movement of the body's geometry in relation to itself, its environment,
and the gravitational field of the Earth - over a period of time.
Physical Yoga can align the body with the archetypal patterns on which it is modeled.
If the intent is to become peace filled - then dance, Tai chi and other 'martial' arts
can likewise align one's habits of movement
to the harmonious possibilities of the structure of the human form.

Yoga is about creating peace and expanding consciousness.
Yoga is the expansion of happiness.
Yoga in one sense is any process that develops the ability for you to be at home, at peace,
on the physical plane in the physical body.
There is a mind and body living together in a human being - it's very ordinary...
and yet it's really a most extraordinary paradox,
and one that we can be incredibly intimate with.
So yoga is just looking at how common it is to have a mind living in a body,
and the difficulties of that relationship which are universal challenges.
One of the keys to working intimately with the duality of mind and body is with our own breath.

The body is innately intelligent, peaceful and harmonious.
By its own nature it has determined not to be a puddle of amino acids on the ground.
It is constructive and animated, self-regulating, and so loving.
The body is a garden and it longs for the mind to enter it and to wander its pathways -
yet most people spend a lot of time running around avoiding it.

As people awaken, their consciousness of the body
becomes more intense along with everything else.
In holistic Yoga - the mind gets to meet the body,
and the body experiences the mind.
The healthy human being has to be at home in their body
as well at at home in their circumstances.
Becoming aware of the tension embodied as a result of dualistic forces -
allowing them to be coexisting in non struggle or non-harming -
is a state called in Sanskrit 'Ahimsa'.
Left and right, up and down, life and death, hot and cold -
all polarities create boundaries, mental membranes, edges, interfaces.
Through Ahimsa the aspirant may support or develop the foundations -
the development of a third force, the mediative force.
This is most tangible in the body as an internal movement of Ascension,
a lengthening of the spine which brings structural harmony,
spaciousness in the joints, and much peace to the nervous system.
The harmony of the dualistic forces in the structural body
and the cultivation of the mediative force
is the origin of movement through the Sushumna nadi of Kundalini.

Conscious exercise involves the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual bodies. It aligns and activates of all the various aspects of our beings, the bodies or 'sheaths', the energy centres. It connects the polarities and completes the circuit from macrocosm to microcosm, from individual to universal. Just as there is the external alignment of the celestial geometries, so too the aspects of our internal realities are approaching an alignment and integration that has never before been possible.

At this time there is a call to yoga, a call for unification,
a call from the earth inviting consciousness to enter it again, not just exploit it.
This is also a call from the body to have the consciousness enter it,
and a call from the Galaxy - a call to go beyond planetary consciousness
as human beings develop to that level.

As the native American keepers of the BirdTribes tradition say,
its a 'basic call to consciousness'.


The more than two millennia old 'Yoga Sutras of Patanjali',
one of the most venerable and influential texts on Yoga, loosely translated, begins...

1. atha yoga nusasan ~
Now Yoga Transmission.
2. yoga citta vritti nirodaha ~
Yoga happens with the stilling of the Flames of the Heart.
3. tada drasthuh svarupe vasthanam ~
Then the Solar Angel abides within the Light of its own Being in all circumstances.
4. vritti sarupyam itaratra ~
Otherwise, there is identification with every movement as though it were the Centre, the True Self.
5. vrttayah pancatayyah klista klistah ~
The apparent play of phenomena is Fivefold, both pleasant and unpleasant.

"The healthy human being is composed of all 5 elements in harmonious balance.
The correct balance of elemental qualities is naturally developed through the proper practiceof yoga.
Yoga is far more than the system of physical training that it is normally identified with. "

" Physical poses or 'Asana' are the third of the eight limbs. .
The 5 types of Asana that emphasize elemental qualities are:
SPACE- Inversions or sitting still - invokes openness and lightness. .
AIR - Balancing poses - draw forth dexterity and equilibrium .
FIRE - Back bends - evoke power, warmth, & transformation .
WATER - Forward bends & twists - are cooling, calming, yielding ,
soothing, and nurture introspection and fluency.
EARTH - Standing poses - support tolerance, strength & stability.

Asana means a seat in which the Witnessing Consciousness observes sensations. As insight arises and ignorance passes, the dimension of tension is seen clearly, and obsolete cellular memory and habitual muscular holding patterns are released.
The forth limb of yoga is called Pranayama. It is vitality cultivation through breath modulation exercises.
The deeper and more aware the breathing is, the stronger the life presence.
Specific breathing techniques work to effect specific patterns within the subtle balance of the life force.
The names of the Pranayamas are in the fifth circle, beyond the Asanas. "

Most of the attributions in the tables here are traditional. Our main addition is to assign the Yamas (tendencies to constrain) and Niyamas (tendencies to develop) to particular elements, and to provide an affirmation for each of the elements. There are many different systems possible and different ones have been used in different cultures and times. We hope you will find this one useful to contemplate. Frequent consultation of the Mandala will facilitate the deepening of your awareness.







Sensory Field

Hearing Feeling Seeing Tasting Smelling
Type of Pose (Asana) Inversions or Sitting Poses Balancing Poses Back Bends Forward Bends Standing Poses

'Body' or 'Sheath'





Disciplines (Yama)

Non-grasping or Simplicity
Focus or Continence
Non-stealing or Openness
Non-deceiving or Truthfulness
Kindness or


Selflessness or Spirituality
Self-study or Understanding
Enthusiasm or Austerity
Equanimity or Contentment

Purity or Clarity

Breath (Pranayama) Viloma or KevalaKumbhaka NadiShodana or AnataraKumbhaka SuryaBhedana or Bastrika Sitkali or Chandrabhedana Ujayi or

wheelwheelThe 'Eight Limbs
of Hatha Yoga' were designed by the ancient sages to be
practiced in conjunction with each other. The first four limbs
are arranged as concentric rings around the centre of this
Mandala. The first two limbs of Yoga are Yama & Niyama.
They are codes of living soulfully. The 5 Yamas restrain
negative tendencies. They are non-harming, non- deceiving,
non-stealing, non-distraction and non-complexity. The 5 Niyamas
cultivate benevolent character traits. They are commitment,
contentment, enthusiasm, self-study, & spirituality. Here we have
included for each Yama & Niyama an affirmation that will assist
in developing them. Living by these codes cultivates the positive human
qualities shown in the outer ring of the Mandala. These qualities are
programmed into the biocircuitry of the body through physical posturing.

Affirmation for the Yama
Space Omniscience supplies my hidden needs and fills my life completely.
I ecstatically accept all possible experience.
Air I express my energy in ways that bring me closer to my heart.
As I cease to hold captive the object of my Love, I set myself free.
Fire In joyful abundance I open my soul to the Sun, loosen every knot
release every cord and leave everyone free.
Water Knowing and flowing with truth, the truth shall set me free.
When I am true to myself I am the equal of all.
Earth I will be gentle, filled with love
knowing that in asking for life I ask for all.

Affirmation for the Niyama
Space I am living, breathing, moving in Omniscient Life,
relaxing into what is always and already accomplished.
Air Heaven is within me so I live and breath Gratitude. I breath Oneness
and move keenly alive, guided by inner knowledge.
Fire Enthusiastically love burns within me,
combusting all pride and self-condemnation.
Water I am freeing myself from security, sensation and power addictions
that make me forcefully control situations in my life.
Earth In clarity and commitment I cherish my body
as it is the temple of my Soul.







Key Word Qualities Consciousness


"When they became centres, and therefore persons, the elements could at last begin to react, directly as such, to the personalising action of the centre of centres. When consciousness broke through the critical surface of hominisation, it really passed from divergence to convergence and changed, so to speak, both hemisphere and pole. Below that critical ' equator ' lay the relapse into multiplicity ; above it, the plunge into growing and irreversible unification. Once formed, a reflective centre can no longer change except by involution upon itself. ...It escapes from entropy by turning back to Omega : the hominisation of death itself." Teilhard de Chardin

This seems like a good place to share with you a fairly technical article that relates to many of the BirdTribes subjects including the 5 Elements, Sacred Geometry, & Health. It seems absurdly co-incidental that the author, environmentalist David Yarrow, is also involved in supporting the Iroquois Tribes in their fight to save the sacred Onondaga lake where the Great Peacemaker instituted the Great Law of Peace. One can't help but imagine that somehow there is a golden spiral of meaning linking these phenomena.
According to this article the photosynthetic basis of organic life on earth - the way in which earth life first learned to use the energy of the sun to create carbohydrates - which then became the coding language of information in the more complex lifeforms - is a 5 phase process ! (more about a recent scientific breakthrough regarding carbohydrates and information coding on the health page here)


by David Yarrow

Three billion years ago photosynthetic cells appeared on Earth and spread into virtually every environment by tapping electrons in a ubiquitous substance: water. They evolved an ability to split water (H2O) into electrons (e-), protons (H+) and molecular oxygen (O2). Thus, photosynthetic cells could exploit water and thrive in new environments. Electrons and protons are energetically useful; O2 is but a by-product.

To use water as an electron source is no simple feat, since water gives up electrons grudgingly. The energy of a single photon isn't sufficient to split water, so this evolutionary feat demanded modifications to primitive bacteria. The problem was solved by using four photons to split two water molecules, thus releasing four electrons and four protons. However, this creates a new difficulty, since the photosystem can handle only one electron at a time.

To solve this, photosynthetic plant cells developed a special catalyst called a water oxidizing clock - a unique biochemical ratcheting cycle to stabilize water splitting reactions so electrons transfer one by one in intermediate steps. The photosystem stores energy by separating positive (H+) and negative (e-) charges on opposite sides of chloroplast membrane. To do this, an array of special enzymes absorb a photon and efficiently convert light into a widening separation of electric charge. The Water Splitting Clock

In darkness, the clock settles into a stable, low energy state (S0). When chlorophyll absorbs a photon, the photosystem is boosted to a higher oxidation state (S1), and releases an electron and proton. A second photon shifts the oxidation state higher (S2) and frees a second electron. A third photon is absorbed, oxidation steps higher (S3), and a third electron and second proton are freed. The highest oxidation state (S4) occurs with absorption of a fourth photon, and a fourth electron and two protons are liberated.

The clock then removes four electrons from two bound water molecules, releases O2, oxidation drops from S4 back to S0, and two new water molecules are bound to the photosystem, completing the cycle. The protons produced by splitting water reduce carbon dioxide to carbon and water; the carbons are bonded together (polymerized) to form rings that become sugar, and chains that become amino acids and proteins.

Thus, the water oxidizing clock is a five step cycle. It begins with binding two water molecules, and ends with a release of oxygen (O2). The water splitting clock strips four protons (H+) and four electrons (e-) off two H2O molecules, leaving two oxygen atoms and a chain of carbons. The two oxygen ions quickly combine to form a molecule of oxygen (O2).

Manganese (Mn) is crucial to water splitting, since O2 isn't produced unless four Mn atoms are present in a photosystem. Mn is a catalyst which can share two to five electrons with other atoms, and assume five stable oxidation states (+2 to +7). Mn has several unpaired electrons which, like tiny magnets, interact strongly with external magnetism. So Mn complexes in the photosystem are paramagnetic—they become magnetic when in a magnetic field. Mark Mead reports Mn, like nickel, forms B12 analogue, and is causing widespread soil depletion of cobalt.

Thus, a photosystem is really a magnetic field. Magnetism's role in biomolecules and cells is a revolution in science, and provides insight into the geometry and action of enzymes such as in photosynthesis. Proteins bound in chloroplast membrane form a solid state subspace where electrons, protons and ions are ordered and altered in resonant cycles. The water oxidizing clock runs in five part synchrony, so its design geometry is the pentagon. The clock cycle itself is a model of the second law of Oriental philosophy.

5 elements

A few more notes from a recent correspondence ...

The 5-step water-splitting clock is a technical-conceptual solution to our energy troubles. Plants perfected a hydrogen energy economy nearly 2 billion years ago. Photosynthesis pries four hydrogens off two water molecules to release 4 electrons and 4 protons -- the common currency of chemistry -- to power molecular machinery of carbohydrate synthesis. In analogy to current car engines, plants use photons as electric sparks to ignite their true fuel -- water. Plants "burn" water, using sunshine rather than conventional electrolysis.

That elegant, symmetric porphyrin ring of chlorophyll is like a drumhead, with a skin stretched over it, and at the center of this tautly drawn skin, a crystal gemstone (magnesium) is embedded -- in tension, in tune, ready to be struck by an incoming photon, to bounce and boom, resonate and rumble, turning solar rays into ion pulses, making bing become bang.

Of course, since the physical world is really a PHI-cycle whorled, that 5-step photosynthetic center is built of PHI-ratio cycle spirals of electron orbitals imploding into the reaction center vortex, all in fractal PHI symmetry. Plants use photosynthesis to burn water by implosion rather than explosion.

David Yarrow

The Universal Yoga Mandala may be used to assist you in Yoga self-diagnosis and application.
Use it with wisdom and care, as you are fully responsible for all outcomes of your practice.
The assistance of a living teacher may at times be a necessary and precious addition.
However, remember that Nature is the Great Teacher,
and the ultimate Guru is within your own heart.


"Everything in the universe relates to the number 5, one way or another, given enough ingenuity on the part of the interpreter...
The Law of Fives states simply that: All Things Happen In Fives, Or Are Divisible By Or Multiples Of Five,
Or Are Somehow Directly Or Indirectly Appropriate To Five. The Law of Fives is never wrong.
" Principia Discordia


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