The other day someone in class asked about what kind of diet supports a physical Yoga practice and I replied by saying that the Yogic diet is Sattvic. A diet of whole foods, veggies and unprocessed foods keeps the body light and limber. However we are not living on a mountain top with our guru, practicing Yoga every morning and mediating for 5 hours a day. We are living in bustling cities. We have jobs, responsibilities and busy lives.
This whole conversation got me thinking about the 3 Gunas which I remember reading about many years ago from the first Yoga book I ever had. "The New Book of Yoga" - from the Sivanada Yoga Centre.
So what are the Gunas? Basically the Gunas are three different types of energy. All three of these energies are present within us and our enviroment. The book above has a beautiful explanation of how this applies to apples.
Sattvic - Purity
Rajasic - Passion
Tamasic - Inertia
“The Gunas ... successively dominate, support, activate, and interact with each other. Sattva is buoyant and shining. Rajas is stimulating and moving. Tamas is heavy and enveloping.” - Ishvarakrishna Samkhyakarika,
I really loved learning about the Gunas and using them to identify different aspects of myself such as environment, food and lifestyle choices I make . For example I know I have a lot of rajasic qualities, I'm very passionate about things, I love tea,coffee and salty food. I'm pretty hyperactive and have crazy energy sometimes almost burning myself out. So I know I need to nuture other sides of myself. Eating healthy foods and slowing down can help me be more grounded and relaxed.
Remembering that all three qualities are present in all things and anyone in excess could bring us way off balance. I don't think Tamasic is bad and Sattvic is good and Rajasic is something in between they just are what they are. To me they are useful and a simple way to look at things to help make healthy and positive choices in our lives.
In terms of food choices, I think it is pretty much common sense. Wholefoods and vegetables give us energy. Spicy, salty food might make us more 'spicy' and passionate, arousing the senses (especially the taste buds!). Heavy foods, alcohol and eating too much can make us sluggish and lazy. But as our dad says....
A little bit of everything is okay. - Tswayuki Saotome
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