Though it forms the core of one's physicality, the element earth composes only 12% of the body. Yet that small percentage can create an overwhelming obstacle due to one's identification with it. Sadhguru explains, yogic practices relating to earth always focused on making one’s personal piece of clay more competent, capable and conscious, while keeping a certain dispassion and distance to avoid entanglement.

Full Transcript:

Questioner: My question was about the earth element you’ve spoken about it… spoken about, you know putting your hands into the earth or burying yourself in the earth and the healing effects it has on the body. Can you elaborate more on that?

Sadhguru: A man went to the doctor and the doctor said, ‘You have only three liv… three weeks to live.’ The man became distraught and said, ‘Doctor, what can I do?’ The doctor said, ‘Take three mud-baths a day.’ He said, ‘Oh is that going to help? Can I live with it? Am I going to live longer if I do this?’ Doctor said, ‘No. It's just that when they bury you, it won't be too much of a shock.’ You’ve already been there every day, three times. (Laughs)

So usually earth, soil – in United States people refer to the soil as dirt, here also you call it dirt or soil? Hmm? Indian people ‘soil’, I’m asking others, ‘Do you call it dirt or soil, normally in language?’ Soil. So it's called dirt out there. So dirt - you’re twelve percent dirt, all right? (Laughs) Just to get the dirt off because the essence of your physicality is formed by the earth. Water, air, fire is there but the essence of your physicality is because of the earth that you have taken. So this is the core physicality of who you are and it's only twelve percent

Only twelve percent but that is the core element of your physicality, but that is what is getting in the way. Water, easily you can transform, air you can easily transform, fire takes some effort but that is not really in the way. It's in a different way, the way fire functions. It is the earth which is getting in the way.

So, just twelve percent getting in your way. See, not a big obstacle, hmm? Just twelve percent of your body is getting in the way of your liberation; I want you to understand, only twelve percent. You can go through the water, isn't it? You can go through the air, fire you can cross, doesn’t block you; in fact it lights up. It's only twelve percent of your physicality which blocks. So tch, just shit in the air-filter, you know. (Laughs) Just getting that little dirt out of your way, that’s not so complex; it's complex because you are identified with it and you’re trying to change it. That’s why it's complex.

See this flower, so beautiful and so alive, but it was not difficult for you to cut this from the plant and stick it here, isn't it? Your little finger - is it as beautiful as this flower? Is it? Don’t tell me. Is it? No. Just cut it and put it here, let me see. (Laughter) No, because you are identified with it. ‘No, pain…’ Pain is not the only thing. We can give you an anesthetic. (Laughter) Pain is not the only thing, pain is a protection. We can subvert the pain, isn't it? We can give you an anesthetic; can you cut this finger and stick it here? Because you’re identified with it, yes? That’s why it's in the way, not otherwise, otherwise it's not in the way. What is a stepping stone has become a hurdle now because you’re identified with it.

So one way is – bhuta shuddhi means taking charge of it so that you can shape it the way you want it, so that it functions the way you want it. But at the same time becoming super capable with the body can also be trouble for some people because they’ll get more identified with it because it's functioning so beautifully. They’ll get further more identified with it. So bhuta shuddhi comes with a certain balance, a certain mastery and a certain dispassion… a certain mastery and a certain dispassion. All practices are governed like this. So, particularly practices concerned with earth are very strongly governed like this because if your body becomes super capable you may become more ignorant than the way you are right now; it happens, isn't it?

If you are like a little blob you wouldn’t be so proud of your body, you wouldn’t be so identified with it, but you are like that (Gestures). Now it's all about your body, isn't it? Yes or no? It becomes all about your body simply because it is receiving appreciation, it is being looked up to; now you become all about the body. To keep the body very fit and efficient and to keep a certain distance from it – this is how all practices are devised. On one level to make it competent, on another level to create a certain space. Without the space, if competence comes, ignorance rises to sky… heavens, you know, it becomes… one becomes far more ignorant that the way they are right now.

So the practices of the earth are specially designed in such a way that without a proper initiation they’re never really taught, because dispassion should be the first step before competence, otherwise people will get more entangled than the way they are right now. So can it be taught? Definitely it can be, but everybody being part-time yogis, week-end yogis going on adding more and more practices not good. Such people, what they should do is – all of you – what you should do is, in a year you must take off a two or three weeks minimum, two or three times in a year where this week or fifteen days that you spend is just about this one (Referring to oneself), only for this being. ‘Oh is it not selfish? I want to go holiday vacation with my family, I want to do this, I want to take our children…’ I want you to understand the best thing you can do to your family, to your children, to your society and to the world around you is, enhance this one (Referring to oneself), isn't it? Yes or no? This is the best gift you can offer to anybody. If you become a beautiful human being, isn’t it the best thing you can offer to people around you?

Most human beings are difficult. Hmm? Not always, I know that - always difficult means they would have got rid of you - but difficult many times in a day. No, only twice a day. If somebody is difficult twice a day it's quite a burden to carry them through, isn't it? Every day you get angry for five minutes only, you go wild for five minutes; this is enough to tire somebody of you, isn't it? Hmm? You don’t have to be angry twenty-four hours of the day. Just five minutes of the day, every day you get angry, within a short span of time people will have nothing but disgust for you. Yes or no? To… To make yourself disgusting you don’t have to dip yourself in filth, you just put one blob on your nose and walk around, that’s enough, nobody wants to come near you, isn't it? Everything else is clean and washed up properly, just one blob of filth on your nose, does anybody want to touch you? Hmm? No? So that's all it takes, I’m saying. You don’t have to be nasty throughout the day. Once in three days you practice nastiness, that’s enough to be tired of you, isn't it? (Laughs)

So you must get the dirt out of the way. Tch, at the same time, without it you cannot exist. So you have to make it more competent and more capable and more conscious. The same clay can be made into so many things. Yes? You can make a ball and throw it at somebody or you can make a pot out of it. You can make a very, just a pot to hold water or you can make a very beautiful ornamental pot or you can make porcelain out of it. You can do many things depending upon how many processes you’re willing to do to that, isn't it, a piece of clay? So this is just that, a piece of clay. Depending upon how many processes you’re willing to do to this one (Referring to oneself), accordingly this becomes a completely different thing. Maybe you’re just a brick or maybe a pot or maybe a very beautiful pot, maybe a porcelain pot. Today, porcelain is being used even in engines, automotive engines, you know this? You know, they’re making pistons out of porcelain. It’s the most efficient thing; it can take any kind of temperature.

So, it depends how many processes the same soil has gone through, isn't it? And you are also made of the same material. Depending upon how many processes you’re put through accordingly the quality of this (Referring to oneself) keeps on rising. So the quality of it rises, if it happens without the necessary distance, that itself will become an entanglement. So practices concerning earth element are taught in a particular way so that this balance happens of competence and space; both should happen together.

Editor’s Note: Excerpted from Sadhguru’s discourse at the Isha Hatha Yoga School’s 21-week Hatha Yoga Teacher Training program. The program offers an unparalleled opportunity to acquire a profound understanding of the yogic system and the proficiency to teach Hatha Yoga. The next 21-week session begins on July 16 to Dec 11, 2019. For more information, visit or mail