Finding Balance And Health With Yoga

Have you heard about the​ Gunas? No,​ they are not Disney characters! 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. When we​ have too much rajasic energy we​ might appear to​ the​ outside world as​ extremely busy,​ go go go,​ do do do! Does this sound like you? Maintaining a​ high degree of​ rajasic energy leads to​ burn out! When rajas is​ out of​ balance the​ mind and body are overstimulated,​ the​ mind becomes restless and you experience a​ lot of​ uncontrollable thoughts.

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 rajasic

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 the​ darker emotions such as​ anger or​ greed. Just as​ there is​ more rajasic energy present in​ daylight hours,​ tamasic energy is​ present during nighttime. People who are very tamasic might be depressed or​ appear lazy. Generally speaking disease states are tamasic.

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​ 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 was experiencing a​ lot of​ sattvic energy would appear very happy. Sattvic energy also is​ consistent 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​ the​ yogic path is​ focused on​ developing sattva and for this reason yoga asana and meditation are classically performed at​ these times.

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 this is​ true we​ tend to​ have a​ predominant guna. Based on​ the​ descriptions above can you figure out what yours is? it​ is​ good to​ be aware of​ this because once you are aware of​ your predominant guna then you can predict how might react to​ certain life circumstances as​ well know your strengths and weaknesses. You’ll know when you will tend to​ be thrown out of​ balance and what you will need to​ do to​ bring yourself back into balance.

You also might have times in​ our lives when one guna is​ more active then another. Perhaps you have very active time and very productive (rajasic). or​ a​ period when you have been depressed (tamasic). or​ a​ time when we​ are very balanced and in​ tune with your spirituality (satvic).

Another way the​ gunas show up in​ our lives and directly effect us is​ through the​ food we​ eat. Consider for a​ minute the​ average American diet with overly processed and chemically treated foods which are very tamasic. Modern science now confirms that these food items 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.

Do you practice yoga postures (asana)? How do the​ gunas show up here? is​ your asana practice fiery and passionate? Was your practice was slow and lazy? or​ was it​ balanced?

It is​ probably becoming clear to​ you by now that to​ be healthy,​ happy,​ and live a​ balance life it​ is​ important to​ cultivate sattva in​ your life. This can be done by:

Reducing rajas and tamas
Becoming aware of​ when you are out of​ balance- which guna seems most present?
Increase activities and environments that produce positive thoughts
Eating a​ healthy,​ sattvic oriented diet
Certain herbs (subject for another article)
The practice of​ yoga: pranayama (breathing practices),​ asana (postures),​ meditation

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