Ayurveda and The Grand Canyon

I recently completed guiding a week-long trip to the bottom of the Grand Canyon for our local university. As we happened to be hiking during the wettest and stormiest weather of the past several months, Water quickly became the theme of our trip. It got me thinking about how this all relates to the Element of Water in the Ayurvedic view.

Ayurveda recognizes the 5 Elements as Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. Each has an essential role to play in our lives and our health. Too much or not enough of any element creates imbalance and eventually disease.

During our Canyon experience:

  • water quenched our thirst after long hikes
  • water created the spontaneous falls cascading over the rocks and onto our bodies and packs as we hiked after a storm
  • water filtered the sunlight to present us with daily rainbows as the the storms faded
  • water reconstituted the powdered hummus we had for lunch
  • water formed the chest high debris flow of the flash flood that rumbled down Phantom Canyon, into Bright Angel Creek and cleansed the land
  • water scoured the rocks and beaches that turned crystal clear waters a deep brownish-red that helped us understand why the river is called ‘Colorado’
  • water formed instant streams in the trails as we splashed our way down through eons of rock layers
  • water formed the limestone layers of the Kaibab and Redwall
  • water provided transportation for the rafters we met while relaxing on the beaches
  • water in the form of springs provided the surprises of cattails, lobelia, monkey flowers, maidenhair ferns and mint growing a few steps away from the normally parched areas of pricky pear and agave
  • and finally, water in the form of clouds and mist and fog provided cool and welcome relief as we worked our way up the endless switchbacks from the river to the rim
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