Balance the Gunas and Cultivate Goodness

  • YogaToday

Balance the Gunas and Cultivate Goodness 

The Gunas are three basic characteristics that are present in all things to varying degrees. 

They are present in our psychology and physiology as well as in the foods we eat, the media we consume and everything else we interact with. The concept of the Gunas comes from the Bhagavad Gita, a core Hindu text. The three gunas are tamas (dullness), rajas (passion) and sattva (goodness).

The properties of each guna

Tamas is characterized by inertia, lethargy, helplessness and depression. You may notice a tamasic energy in yourself when you feel a deep attachment or addiction to someone or something. Or perhaps when you are feeling disinterested and apathetic about things you once enjoyed. Confusion and doubt are also tamasic properties. 

Rajas is characterized by extreme emotions, restlessness and anxiety. You may notice a rajasic energy within yourself when you have such determination that you use force to achieve the end goal. If you experience chaos in any part of your life, that is rajasic energy. Rumination and fear are also properties of rajas. 

Sattva is characterized by harmony, trust and gratitude. You may notice a sattvic energy when you feel calm, fulfilled and present. When you feel in control of yourself and your circumstances, without being controlling, that is sattvic energy. Freedom, love and happiness are also sattvic properties. Being in the sattvic state is being “in the flow.”

So what do you do with the gunas?

I’m so glad you asked.

The Gunas are a tool, passed down from those who have walked the path before us, to help us navigate our inner landscapes.

We’ve all heard the saying “where your attention goes, energy flows.” Through the Gunas, we can recognize whether the things we are giving our attention to are bringing a tamasic or rajasic energy into our lives. Once we recognize these influences we can use our power of choice to stop giving our attention to things that are ultimately bringing us suffering, and instead, put our attention into things that help us bring tamas and rajas into balance in order to cultivate a sattvic state.

The Gunas are a structure for Svadhyaya (self-study). Knowing the properties of each guna can help you go deeper in your self-exploration. Through understanding tamasic and rajasic energy and taking inventory of the places where you draw these energies from, you can transform them to cultivate sattva. According to Ayurvedic doctorand philosopher Patanjali, the cultivation of sattva is the goal of the yogi.

Join us for Sarah Kline's 3 week series and begin practicing with the energetic qualities of the Gunas.