The Gunas represent three qualities of the mind that exist in all living things and they are depicted as chains binding us and attaching us to the world. They determine the way we behave and respond. The purpose of the Gunas is to bind us through our sensory experience. We become attached to this physical world and to our egos if we do not free the binds of the Gunas.
The three Gunas are Sattva, Rajas and Tamas
These concepts are described in the Bhagava Gita which is a sanskrit scripture which details the four main branches of yoga. Gunas can be increased or decreased through changes in lifestyle,action or thought. In our yoga practice the Gunas are part of the Kundalini (spirtual energy) awakening.
The kundalini is located at the base of the spine and is like a coiled snake of three each one representinga Guna as you free the attachments the coils unwind and the snake begins to climb up your spine and through your Chakra system. The snake is feminine and represents your ego. The ego is aware that there is something much greater that is male that it wants to unite (yoga) with. This energy is the energy of our Spirit. The snake climbs all the way to your crown chakra where the two unite and you become “enlightened”
To be sattvic is to be pure and reach a higher state of consiousness, meditation and yoga help you to develop a sattvice mind. Letting go of the ego, past actions and embracing nourishing choices lead to happiness. In terms of ayurveda we try to embrace a sattvic diet ie foods that are pure, non processed full of prana (energy) so avoiding stale and processed foods. In ayurveda we look to adopt a sattvic diet. Sattvic foods are:
nuts seeds and oils
Ayurveda has a sacred place for milk but this is not milk as in modernt times it was before there was mass production hormones and antibiotics so now we may choose to avoid milk and opt for plant based milks Use soy, almond, hazelnut or rice milk instead.
Energy action change and movement are Rajasic qualities, overworking, over consumption of alchol or over consumption of material goods is an attachment to rajas.
Rajasic foods are those foods that create action or a reaction if you overconsume in your body. A small amount of rajistic food is good too much not so good. Rajasic foods are any foods salty, sour, fermented, hot, and spicy like the following:
Tomatoes (sharp varietys not sweet)
Tamas is a state if inertia of death or dullness. To reduce tamas avoid tamasic foods, oversleeping, overeating inactivity and adopt a more Sattvic diet and mindset.
Tamasic foods are deemed to be dead or dull. This is what creates “ama” in your body and mind. Ama is what creates disease in the body and increases toxins in the body.
Other foods deemed Tamasic are:
Stale food or rotten
Alcohol in excess