In Sanskrit, The Gunas are considered qualities that strand together the universe. These qualities are energetic forces that are present in every human experience and life in general. They are categorized into three different attributes, each with their own characteristics. The 3 Gunas are: Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas and the proportions in which they are present is the only thing that shifts.
Understanding the essence of each Guna can help you better understand how they harmoniously exist in the world. Yogis can study the presence of each Guna through the practice of Ayurveda, which is a Hindu form of medicine based on balancing bodily systems and functions, yogic breathing, and alternative and holistic medicine and dieting.
In Sanskrit, Sattva means honesty and represents virtue. It’s the raw truth and how we stay on a steady path forward in life. However, Sattva can only thrive when Rajas and Tamas are in balance. Sattvic harmony is crucial in the yoga world and many think of Sattva as being the process in which propels the journey. It’s acting from a place that is a derivative of the soul and our true way of viewing ourselves, free from judgment. Sattva is a calm mind and being present, free of desire, living in the utmost truth.
Rajas, in Sanskrit, means passion and is the tendency and inertia that drives motion. Rajas hides awareness. It can be exemplary of frustration, aggravation and fueled by desire dictating the experience. While it can hinder awareness, it is the vessel of motion that drives things into accomplishment. Rajas is the “activity” and it can be utilized amongst athletes for motivation, but sometimes all of this energy can lead to anxieties, which is why it must be in balance. Balancing Rajas can look like sitting down for a nice meal or taking your time in relaxing poses.
Tamas means darkness and can represent lethargy. This is the element of laziness and can sometimes hinder self-inquiry. Tamas-dominant people tend to sleep too much and can often be prone to depression. Fear interprets experience through the Tamas Guna and it embodies stagnation. In order for you to bring Tamas into balance, try going for a meditative walk or focus on eating mobilized foods that keep your body in a positive motion.
Working through The Gunas
Throughout your life and even in your yoga practices, you may find you embody the different Gunas at different times. Living an Ayurvedic lifestyle can help you navigate through The Gunas and even balance them through meditation, specific and mindful eating, and different breathing and yogic exercises. When working on balancing Rajas and Tamas, we can ultimately find a place of true harmony in existence…Sattva. All three Gunas are necessary in the universe. They are the fibers responsible for the way everything exists with their relationship and prominence constantly shifting.
In your yoga class today, try moving your students to Revolved Half Moon Pose, or Half Moon Pose. Here is a fun video set in Hawaii, where our lovely yoga teacher Desiree moves us through vinyasa to find Half Moon Pose.
Explore more about the gunas through our Ayurveda courses:
- Ayurveda + Asana
- Ayurveda + Women’s Health
- The History of Ayurveda
- Ayurveda Diet
- Ayurveda + Self-Care
The Yoga Journal also has a helpful article: Understanding The Gunas