Your Cart is Empty

Finding Balance: The Gunas

March 04, 2013

Halfmoon - Finding Balance: The Gunas

In Hindu philosophy, the gunas are the three equalities of nature which we aim to bring into balance through our yoga practice. These qualities are; Tamas which is solidity, mass, or inertia, Rajaswhich is dynamism or vibrancy, and Sattva which is luminosity, or the quality of light.

Tamas dominates in our physical yoga practice. The body has mass, and especially as we age, our bones need density and our muscles need firmness. However too much of this feeling of heaviness in the body can turn into sluggishness, so it is good to exert ourselves and penetrate the density of the body infusing it with vibrant energy. For example, if I wake up in the morning feeling dull or sluggish, especially at this tamasic time of year, I practice heating, active, strong poses to break through that inertia. Sun salutations are a great way to counter tamasic energy.

On the other hand, in our minds we want to cultivate a quickness and vibrancy. In the mind the quality of rajasshould dominate. But just like tamas,we need to find the appropriate balance for this energy, as to much could lead to a turbulent, frantic or agitated state of mind. So if I find my mind is racing or I feel anxious, the quieter yoga practices of pranayama, restorative postures and/or meditation are most helpful and settling. I do these gentle practices in the evening before going to sleep, or if my work is particularly demanding and I feel anxious or stressed.

The gunasare constantly shifting, from day to day, and even hour by hour. As yogi’s we work on finding a balance of the gunas through practice in order to integrate the quality of sattva. Maybe you’ve caught a glimpse of this state after a well balanced yoga practice and peaceful savasana. Maybe you’ve noticed that feeling of being alert and truly relaxed at the same time, your mind both tranquil and clear. Just imagine feeling that way more of the time.

Once you learn how to identify and then adjust the proportions of the gunas in your yoga practice, this awareness can be transferred into your daily life as well. Check in to see how you are feeling each day; Do you need more activity or more rest? Warming food or cooling food? A walk through nature or a trip to the library? Check in often and make adjustments, you will notice not only more connection with your physical and mental health, but more frequent and longer experiences of sattva.

Screen shot 2013-03-03 at 10.25.19 AMMeghan Goodman

Meghan Goodman is a yoga instructor and professional dance artist who can sometimes be seen dancing on the side of tall buildings. She has been teaching since 2006, and is currently completing a certification in Iyengar yoga under the guidance of training teacher Louie Ettling. For more information on classes, performances, to book a workshop or private session, please

Also in The Balance Blog

Yoga Before Bed with Rachel Scott
Yoga Before Bed with Rachel Scott

October 31, 2018

Yoga before bed is known to kick start your relaxation process, allowing you to fall asleep more easily by tapping into the parasympathetic nervous system. Follow this calming yoga sequence to quiet your mind, alleviate tension in your body and get yourself ready for a restful night's sleep. 
Read More
Hand Work, Mudras & Mindfulness with Coco Finaldi
Hand Work, Mudras & Mindfulness with Coco Finaldi

October 22, 2018

Our hands are precious tools. They give us the ability to nourish ourselves. They help further our connection with other humans. They can be used to communicate displeasure or even cause harm. Our hands can help us express love.
Read More
Meditate on Gratitude with Carolyn Anne Budgell
Meditate on Gratitude with Carolyn Anne Budgell

October 11, 2018

Gratitude is an attitude that can be cultivated not only around Thanksgiving for blessings in our lives, but during each moment of life — towards ourselves! Our brains are programmed to protect and to survive, and when we live a life out in the world it is nearly impossible to avoid feelings of self-judgment or unworthiness. 

Read More

Pause, reflect and join our movement.