According to yoga there are three basic qualities or
energies that make up everything. They are, Rajas, Tamas and Sattva.
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. We obviously need Rajasic energy to create energy to move
successfully throughout our world and lives. People with too much Rajasic
energy appear to be always on the go and extremely busy. A high degree of Rajasic energy leads to burn out! When Rajas is out of balance your mind and
body are over stimulated. The mind becomes restless and you experience a lot of
Foods that are Rajasic include: spicy food, fried foods,
coffee / caffeinated beverages/ stimulants/ fish, eggs, chocolate, foods that
are very bitter, sour, dry and salty. Eating in a hurry is also considered
Tamas can be thought of as the opposite of Rajas. Tamasic
energy is associated with a state of inactivity and inertia, heaviness and
darkness. When tamas is out of balance your ability to reason becomes clouded
and you might experience darker emotions such as anger or greed. Just as there
is more rajasic energy present in daylight hours, Tamasic energy is present
during night time. People more of Tamasic energy can feel depressed or appear
Examples of Tamasic food include: meat, alcohol, tobacco,
onions, fermented foods vinegar or strong cheese, stale food or over ripe food,
overly processed food or chemically treated. Overeating is also considered Tamasic.
Sattva is energy that is in a state of harmony and
balance. Positive mental and emotional states of joy and intelligence are
associated with sattva. A person who is experiencing a lot of Sattvic energy
would appear very happy. Sattvic energy is also linked with healing states and
in Ayurveda (yoga’s sister science) sattvic energy is actively cultivated.
Sattvic energy is most present during the times between light and dark- in
other words dusk and dawn. A person on yogic path is focused on developing sattva
and for this reason yoga asana and meditation are classically performed at
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.
It is important to realize that we all have all three Gunas within us. And while it is true that we tend to have a predominant Guna, based
on the descriptions above can you figure out your Guna? It is good to be aware
of this because once you are aware of your predominant Guna then you can
predict how you might react to certain life circumstances & understand your
strengths and weaknesses. You’ll know when you will tend to be out of balance
and what you need to do to bring yourself back into balance.
There are times when one Guna is more active than
another. That is the reason why sometimes we are very active and very
productive (Rajasic) but other times we feel lazy or even depressed (Tamasic). But
there are also times when we feel happy and very positive. This is when we are
in balance and in tune with our spirituality (Sattvic).
Modern science now confirms that Tamasic food items such
as overly processed and chemically treated foods are directly linked to major
illnesses including cancer, obesity, diabetes and heart disease. As mentioned
above too much Tamasic energy leads to disease states. We also know that foods
in their whole form such as grains, fresh fruits and vegetables (Sattvic foods)
are life sustaining and bring health and energy.
It is probably becoming clear to you by now that to be
healthy, happy and to live a balance life, it is important to cultivate Sattva.
This can be done by:
1. Reducing Rajas and Tamas
2. Becoming aware of when you are out of balance – which Guna seems most present?
3. Increase activities that produce positive thoughts.
4. Eating a healthy, Sattvic diet & consuming Sattvic herbs
5. Yoga: pranayama (breathing practices), asana (postures), meditation