What are Trigunas?

Many ancient traditions, such as yoga, Taoism, Buddhism, and Hinduism, as well as, modern physics, teach that everything in the universe is energy. A table, a bicycle, every thought, and feeling, are all forms of energy. This non-tangible energy can best be understood through gunas. According to Ayurveda Trigunas are the three fundamental universal energies and three essential
components or energies of the mind:
– Sattva
– Rajas
– Tamas

In Ayurveda, relative dominance of the three gunas in people influences their Manasa (psychological) Prakriti (constitution). In yogic philosophy, there is an understanding that the whole universe and everything in it, is made of Purusha (consciousness; Trigunas) and Prakriti (nature;Tridoshas). Trigunas means ‘three’ + ‘qualities’. Everything in the world has those three qualities.
Every human being has all of these gunas, just in different proportions and the dominant guna determines an individual’s manasa prakriti. As long as the three gunas are balanced, the mind(and indirectly the body) stays in a healthy state. Any disturbance in the equilibrium results in
various types of mental disorders.

The three gunas, each with its own unique attributes: tamas (stability), rajas (activity), and sattva(consciousness) can be seen as tendencies, the habitual ways we respond to any situation that arises. Tamas provides our foundation; rajas gives it vitality; sattva imbues it with consciousness and compassionate awareness.

Tamas is characterised by heaviness and resistance, if unbalanced it can be associated with some negative features:
– Delusional
– Lazy
– Confused
– Possessive
– Apathetic
– Dull
– Greedy
However, its energetic vibration, which is slow and thick, also stabilises and focuses. It is the exhalation that calms and steadies. In asana practice it grounds the feet and helps to balance.

Balancing Tamas:
Shaking your hands as you lift your arms overhead several times will get Tamas unstuck, and so will a few rounds of Sun Salutations or Kapalabhati Pranayama. Ayurvedic practitioners suggest staying away from tamasic foods, such as meat, garlic, onions, and breads as well as leftovers and choosing fresh local fruits and vegetables, minimally prepared.

Rajas is the most active of the gunas, if unbalanced it can be associated with some negative
– Ambitious
– Restless
– Workaholic
– Fickle minded
– Self centred
– Achiever
– Aggressive

However, Rajas, is what gets things moving. The vibration of rajas is at a higher frequency than tamas. It is the inhalation. It is also the energy of change, enthusiasm, passion. On the mat, rajas is what moves us from pose to pose.

Balancing Rajas:
Slow down. On your mat, encourage more of the deliberate energy of tamas. Bring your attention into your feet and engage your muscles in a few standing poses before coming down onto your back for some relaxing poses. Gentle pranayama practices, such as Nadi Shodhana or Sitali. To tame rajas, Ayurveda recommends sitting down at every meal, staying away from spicy or fried foods, and eating plenty of antioxidant-rich foods, like leafy greens.

Sattva or consciousness, is radiant presence, unadulterated truth, and compassionate, selfless action:
– Non-violent
– Clarity
– Caring
– Content
– Calm
– Kindred
– Meditative

The quality of sattva is clear, focused, calm, and receptive. Internally, it is in the gap after the exhalation and before the inhalation comes again—the pause where one is free from thoughts,worries, and judgments. We experience sattva on the mat primarily in meditation or whenever we commit to going inward, listening to our body, and moving in sync with the breath. Cultivating sattvic harmony is the goal of yoga and of the natural world. It can shine forth only when tamas and rajas are balanced.

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