What are the Gunas?

What are the Gunas?


Feeling energized? Or tired? Ready to run a marathon? Or do you feel like crawling back under the covers? Or maybe a balanced, centred state in between?

The guna-s are the three essential qualitites of nature that evolve from creation, according to Ayurveda (India’s traditional medical science).

However we rarely attribute or connect them to our daily movements and moments! Our emotions, focus, thoughts and actions are all subject to the guna prevalent in our system at any given time.

So what are the guna-s?

Sattva – creates, perceives, harmonises and balances. This is the one we most hope to attain – to experience happiness, contentment. It is the state yoga is always working towards.

Rajas – maintains, has activity, energy, disturbs harmony. Too much rajas means we can’t relax or wind down. Sometimes we can’t see clearly – there is not space or clarity. Yoga is really useful at taming this one (unless you are doing a practice that is pushing you too hard.) Conscious breath work and slow movement assist with releasing rajas.

Tamas – destructs, tendency towards inertia, heaviness, dullness, lethargy. Great if you want to fall asleep but what if you need to get up and be active? Or maybe the mind needs to have clarity to concentrate and focus but feels heavy and dull. Depression is characterized by this state. The inability to engage or shift (body or mind) holds us back in tamas.

The functions of the gunas are entirely interdependent and cohesive and always in a dynamic interplay. They change, and are rarely static. Yoga and Ayurveda emphasize the development of Sattva as a superior quality that allows spiritual growth to occur. It is also the state where healing can occur.

What can we do to assist Sattva and bring us back to happiness and equilibrium?

Yoga and Ayurveda discuss many ways to attain sattva – not just in practice, but in lifestyle too. Understanding seasonal changes and the influence of nature is another aspect of working with the guna-s.

Join Jill on Saturday 14th March for a deeper dive into the Guna-s as we unpack how we can begin to influence these states through our practices and lifestyles choices.

A meditative practice invoking sattva will conclude the session. Bookings or more info here.