The yoga mat is a good place to turn
when talk therapy and
antidepressants aren’t enough.
Have you ever heard of Gunas? No? According to yoga there are three basic qualities or energies that make up everything. They are, rajas, tamas and sattva. I will offer a brief overview today.
Rajas is the energy of action, change and movement. Rajas is the fuel of passion and fire. Rajasic energy is also associated with the day light hours. You need rajasic energy to create energy to move successfully throughout your world and life. When you have too much rajasic energy, you might appear to the outside world to be extremely busy; always going and doing. Maintaining a high degree of rajasic energy can lead to burn out! When rajas is out of balance, the mind and body are overstimulated. The mind becomes restless and you may experience a lot of uncontrollable thought.
Foods that are associated with rajasic energy include: spicy food, fried foods, coffee, caffeinated beverages, stimulants, fish, eggs, chocolate. Also included are , foods that are very bitter, sour, dry and salty. Eating in a hurry is also considered rajasic.
Tamas can be thought of as the polar opposite of rajas. Tamasic energy is associated with a state of inactivity, inertia, heaviness. When tamas is out of balance your ability to reason becomes cloudy, and you might experience the some of the darker emotions like anger or greed. Just as there is more rajasic energy present in daylight hours, tamasic energy tend to be present during the night or evening hours. People who are very tamasic might be depressed or appear lazy. Generally speaking, most disease states are considered tamasic.
Examples of tamasic food include: meat, alcohol, tobacco, onions, fermented foods (like vinegar or strong cheese), stale or over ripe food, and overly processed food. Overeating is considered tamasic.
Sattva is energy that is in a state of harmony and balance. Positive mental and emotional states like joy and intelligence are associated with sattva. A person who was experiencing a lot of sattvic energy would appear happy. Sattvic energy also is consistent with healing states. Sattvic energy is present at the in-between times, during the times between light and dark, at dusk and dawn. A person on the yogic path is focused on developing their sattvic energy, so this is why yoga asana and meditation are classically performed at these times of day.
Foods that are sattvic include: whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, pure fruit juice, legumes, milk, butter, nuts, seeds, sprouted seeds, honey and herb teas.
All parts of the Whole
It is very important to realize that you have all three gunas within you. And while this is true, people tend to have a predominant guna. Based on the descriptions above you can probably figure out where you fit in. It is good to be aware of this because once you are more aware of your predominant guna, then you can better predict how you will react to certain life circumstances. This is good to know along with your strengths and weaknesses, which we discussed in yesterday’s post about self-awareness. You will better understand when things might throw you off-balance, and what you need to do to bring yourself back into balance.
You also may also have times in your life when one guna is more active then another. Perhaps during your day you have noticed that you have hours that are very active time and very productive (rajasic). Or, you have become more aware of when you might tend to feel more depressed (tamasic). Or times when you are feeling extremely balanced and in tune with yourself (sattvic).
It is should be clear that be at your healthiest, happiest and lining a balanced life, it is important to cultivate sattva in your life.
How do you do this?
Here is a very brief overview:
- Reducing rajas and tamas
- Becoming aware of when you are out of balance. Which guna seems to be primarily at work?
- Increase activities and environments that produce positive thoughts. For example, for some people this means spending a little time in/ with nature.
- Eating a healthy, sattvic oriented diet
- The practice of yoga: pranayama or breathing practices. There are several fantastic free apps great free app for this. There is also Asana (postures), Meditation, Kundalini (which is what I do).
Disclaimer: I am neither a yogi nor a guru. This is provided for your information, only. For further investigation, check with your local yoga instructor.