Dance of the Five Elements

Dance of the Five Elements

The Dance of the Five Elements is a beautiful Tai Ji sequence of movements designed to harmonise our bodies with the five elements. The five elements of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water are in constant movement within us. When they are in balance with one another, we feel joy and harmony with the world and ourselves.

If we can incorporate the Dance of the Five elements into our daily lives (the dance is only four minutes long), then over time, this balance becomes more apparent. The effect on our daily lives of practicing even a short sequence like this can be quite pronounced with more ease of movement, and a feeling of calmness that carries us through life.

In order to help you to understand the dance better, we have written the words that are spoken with each movement. Beneath this, written in italics there are notes on the movement itself, where it is not already obvious on the video. Beneath the notes is a description of the intention behind the movement, an idea of the focus and some insight into the meaning behind the movement.

The dance is actually in two parts that look very similar. The first sequence starts with the right foot and the second sequence starts with the left foot.

It is important to recognise that this is a fine point that can come in time. To begin with, the most important thing about the dance is to understand the intention behind the movements, and to focus on making each movement convey that feeling in your body. This is not about precision, it’s about feeling and connection.


To begin the exercise, there is a gentle calming of the energies around you. When you lift your arms you are making connections between heaven and earth, sky and earth, up and down, left and right, side to side, front to back and back to front. You are engaging with and moving the energy around you.

If you’re stuck in the earth, this movement brings the energy up, and likewise, if you tend to have your energy upwards, it helps to bring the energy downwards. In other words it’s allowing and encouraging movement in all directions.


To finish the preparation, there is a movement which is called embracing the tiger.

“Embrace your tiger”
Cross your hands as you lift them, and look into the palms of your hands, which are the eyes of your tiger.

When you look into your own eyes. You are the tiger. Look into yourself, acknowledge and make contact with yourself. Smile at your tiger. Smile at yourself.


“Return to Mountain”
Turn palms downwards, as you gently lower your hands, which is returning to mountain.

Meaning: returning home. Coming to centre.

Now the dance begins.


Earth ElementEARTH
“This is your world.”

Acknowledging your world in the present moment.

The key to this movement is solid, secure and grounded movement. Feel the feeling coming from your belly, down through your legs and feet to the Earth. Your feet need to be firmly planted on the Earth. The Earth is like a circle, and so the movement reflects this. The movement acknowledges our centre within which we are secure and grounded. You are creating and at the same time acknowledging your home which is within yourself. The movement is nurturing, sweet, enclosing and homely.

“And this is you resting in your world”.
Hands come in front of you, palms facing to left and right. 

“Step back and clear your window”.
Palms face outwards and hands move outwards.
Literally, clearing the past so that you can have clarity in the present moment.

“Connect with the Earth”
Hands come down to connect with the Earth.

This movement is intended to anchor your energy with the Earth, so that the Fire energy can rise.


Fire ElementFIRE
“And allow the Fire to rise.”

The key to this movement is dynamics. Fire energy is fun but focused, like a Flamenco dancer. The feeling needs to be that of a rousing and passionate fire burning with flames high and bright. As the energy reaches the top, rather than allowing to fly out of control, we grasp the energy and pull it back down to earth.

In this way, we awaken the inner Fire energy within ourselves, which keeps our world light, fun and creative.

“Bring the energy back down and meet with the earth.”

The earth then allows this creative energy to manifest in our day to day lives.


“Collect energy to feed yourself.”
“This is the Supplementary Fire energy which looks after yourself and when you are full, you can take a step forward and give out to the world.”

This energy is to do with loving and caring for yourself. You fill your cup so that are able to give out energy without depleting yourself. You fill your cup with love and care by intentionally focusing on that as you make the movement.    Ideally, you should repeat this movement until you feel that your cup is full before you move on to the next movement.  Take your time to fill yourself, and then move on to the giving out movement.


Water ElementWATER
“Then feel the Water energy coming back to wash over you, like a waterfall down into the earth.”

When you give out, energy comes back to you from the world. You can feel this energy come to you, and allow it to wash over you and fall back to earth. The Water energy should be sparkling, refreshing and cleansing.


Wood ElementWOOD
“Then you turn and reach out, and this is your horizon, this is your overview of the world.
So you step around until you come back to the front. This is the Wood energy.”

Wood energy is about flexibility so your arms should move like branches in the wind with a sense of balance and strength without rigidity.

Being in balance with Wood energies means having a clear overview of where you are at in the world. The strength and balance give you the ability to make right decisions for your soul purpose.

As you are circling round, defining your horizon, the feeling that you can have through the fingertips should extend your horizon further than you would think, giving you a wider overview. Don’t hold back. The sky is the limit! Don’t hold too tight a horizon.


Metal ElementMETAL
“Step and reach to the side and bring in your choice for your life at this moment.
This is the Metal energy. You bring it down with crystal clear awareness.
Turn to the other side and bring in what you need at this moment in time”

What is coming into your world is what you need. So you bring in what you need. It is a very structured and clear movement. Metal is about clear boundaries, structure and clarity. It is important not to engage your mind with thinking about what you believe you need to bring in.

The focus is on the precision of the movement and the awareness of that clear cut and precise movement. The feeling/energy of the movement will automatically bring in what you need.


“Now you have all the elements. Allow them to work together and let them go. And feel the energy filling you again.

Connect with the energies and bring them up through the chakras, right through the top. And let them go. And feel yourself filled again.”

The important thing here is that one doesn’t get involved with the working of the energies, or you might hang on to them. Allow them to work, and let them go. Trust that the more regularly you do this exercise, the more naturally there will be balance between the elements. You cannot try to make the elements be in balance. It is not a mind thing.


Dance of the Five ElementsTo finish the dance, we embrace the tiger once more.

“Embrace your tiger. This is you. So smile into the eyes of your tiger”

As you embrace your tiger, this is you in this moment. This is you, the perfect being as you are.


“And return to mountain.”
Turn palms downwards, as you gently lower your hands, which is returning to mountain.

Meaning: returning home. Coming to centre.

And now the dance begins again on the second foot.

We wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to Ian Bailey (Arthur’s son) for filming Chris dancing. We would also like to thank Julie Darling for her beautiful harp music. Julie’s music is beautiful, and you can find out more about Julie and her music and wonderful essences at the Spiritual Harp website.