The beautiful thing about Yoga is that it gives us many different gems to choose from to understand this world we live in as well as ourselves and others. One of those gems I remember finding is the Gunas, the 3 Energies. These Gunas are constantly circulating the environment and are held in every person, place, and thing. From the roommate who never gets off the couch to the seasons changing, these energies are everywhere and in all things. When we are disconnected to their existence we misunderstand how these energies are beneficial and they work in our favor. Nature is an incredibly genius entity and it teaches us constantly, if we are willing to learn. When it comes to the Yoga lifestyle, it is essential we are aware of how these energies effect us and shape our reality.
Every time we feel lethargic, excited, passionate, lazy, peaceful, balanced, ungrounded- they are all the 3 energies doing their work on us! Here is an overview of them.
- Tamas- Dull and Low energy
- Rajas- Fiery and Vibrant energy
- Sattva- Balanced and High Energy
The first two energies have both dark and light aspects to them, meaning they can be viewed or experienced as negative or positive energy. Sattva is a neutral energy, it has no dark side. This is the energy we are trying to attain as much as possible. Many people misinterpret this particular energy as passive or for passivity. In fact Sattva holds both the first 2 Gunas in their highest and they balance each other out, only expressing themselves in their fullest when the situation calls for it.
Tamas in nature looks like fall weather, overcast or foggy skies, and rain. Tamas in humans looks and feels like depression, sadness, grief, dullness, laziness, and immobility. Tamasic foods are junk food, oily and fried foods, processed and gmo foods, dense and heavy foods, fermenting foods like meat and cheese, and highly preserved foods. To a lot of people this can translate as things to avoid, and in a sense yes it is! However, there are times when Tamasic energy is necessary, such as fall and winter being a season where you want to stay indoors and reflect on things, take some time to catch up on good sleep and meditate, or eat a hardy and warm soup to get grounded and comfortable. Tamas is only an energy to avoid if it harms you or another living being, lowers your vibrational frequency, or makes you negative about anything.
Rajas in nature looks like a hot and sunny summer day, tornadoes and thunderstorms, or high winds and strong ocean waves crashing on the shores. Rajas in humans looks like over excitement, hyper activity, strong language, and loud tone. It can also look like addictions such as alcoholism, partying, extreme and competitive sports, and the over consumption of materialistic things. Rajas in food would be spicy, with intense flavors, steaming and boiling or freezing, stimulants like caffeine or drugs. There are instances when this energy is necessary, such as political uprisings or celebrations. Rajas can be very useful if you are trying to get out of a Tamasic mindset that has held you in a negative way.
Sattva in the yogic tradition is enlightenment, balance, and peace. This is the highest vibrational frequency that one hopes to attain. This is the very basis for practicing meditation and Yoga postures, to attain the highest state of awareness and consciousness. To be in total equanimity and pure love with all things. As such this is the most difficult to attain! However we can get glimpses of it, like being in connection to the earth during a hike, loving a person or child deeply, being at peace with a situation or person, or being fully in the present moment. In food sattva is anything in its most pure form like raw veggies and fruits, nuts and seeds. Sattvic energy can be cultivated during meditation and yoga practices, listening to light hearted and intelligently composed music, a dharma talk, or activities that do not strengthen the ego.
The ultimate wisdom of the Gunas is so you can come to state of awareness and release the things that do not serve your highest purpose. When choosing a style of Yoga to practice it is important that you become aware of the energy in the practice, not just yours but that of what is being taught. Understanding when its ok to practice in a heated room and when its ok to do more restorative poses. When you are engaging with other people, can you read their energy as sattvic or are they more fiery or dull? Knowing when its ok to act and when its time to reflect on a situation or feeling is a deeply intuitive practice that we are all cultivating at any given moment. We can learn how to use these energies as a way toward the self, to see life in its reality and not become attached to the ego's clever ways of personalizing this life and its outcomes.
Now that you are aware of these energies, can you spot them in your own life? How have you learned to vibrate higher? Leave a comment and let us know!