The three gunas: Sattva, Rajas, Tamas

Dec 02, 2021

Las tres gunas: Sattva, Rajas, Tamas

Nature is the state in which the three Gunas exist in balance: Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. 

Today YogaYe invites you to (re)discover the three Gunas. Rajas and Tamas are opposite qualities, while Sattva is the state of clarity and balance. These qualities undergo constant changes, both in their relationship with each other and within nature itself, and influence various aspects of our lives. Are you staying to read for a while?


I) Etymology

In Sanskrit, the three primary qualities of nature are called use which means "What Binds". The Guna Word is also translated as quality, attribute or mode. Hindu philosophers hold that Matter or Substance has three fundamental qualities or attributes, which are Sattva, Rajas and Tamas.
All the gunas are necessary in daily life: for example, Tamas is the quality of the bones and Rajas is the quality of the blood circulation. Yoga cleanses the body and mind of oppositions and imbalances and provides us with the necessary instruments to bring out our sattvic nature, made of qualities such as light, love, purity and spiritual consciousness. The highest yogic state, which transcends the impermanent state of the three gunas and also nature, is called gunatite.


II) A bit of yogic philosophy

According to yogic philosophy, the entire universe can be divided into two main categories: Prakriti (Maya or Illusion) and Purusha (Reality). According to this philosophy, everything that is changeable, that is not infinite, is part of Maya. Purusha, on the other hand, is the only reality, it is the only immutable element of the universe: the Self, the soul.

Everything within Prakriti, the illusory world, consists of three gunas (qualities): Sattva (purity), Rajas (activity) and Tamas (darkness, destruction).

These three qualities are present in all objects to varying degrees, one quality always being more present or dominant than the others. The gunas are present in everything; humans, food, animate and innate objects.

The difficulty lies in being able to discriminate between the real and the unreal. That is the ultimate goal of Yoga: to see beyond illusion and see reality. Only a person who is able to see reality can reach the stage of Samadhi or Enlightenment.


III) Sattva, Rajas, Tamas

Sattva: light, harmony, joy, strength, moral and spiritual value

It represents clarity and balance, manifesting as health, purity, cleanliness, clarity, weightlessness, peace, spiritual awareness, compassion, and love.

Rajas: passion, restlessness, movement

It represents the active and aggressive quality, which experiences constant changes. Raja does not let us be at peace, but instead fills the mind with thoughts and desires at every moment. He has an oppositional, astringent and anxious nature. The positive side of rajas is that he gives us the impetus to change and transform, propelling us forward, away from old habits, diseases and prejudices that weaken our zest for life.

Tamas: inertia, darkness

It is the inert, dark, low-energy force that comes in the form of slowness and laziness, heaviness, ignorance, callousness, and selfishness. Pain and illness are also part of tamas, and due to their disturbing nature, these conditions can linger in the body for quite some time. The positive aspect of tamas is that it balances the active energy of rajas, thus allowing us to restlessness and recover when necessary.




on the physical level Harmony Activity Inertia
on the mental level Truth Passion Indifference
Color Blanco RED Black
Time day, clarity Sunrise and sunset, twilight, transition night, darkness
Energy neutral or balanced Positive, gets things moving Negative, slows movements
worlds Heaven or space, the region of peace The atmosphere, the region of storms The Earth, the realm of gravity and inertia
Kingdom of Nature Spiritual beings: gods, goddesses and sages the human kingdom mineral, plant and animal kingdom
states of consciousness

Wake up

Dream Deep sleep

Cosmos Levels

causal or ideal Subtle or astral, pure form crude or physical



IV) Ayurveda and food

El Ayurveda and Yoga use the gunas to determine which guna predominates in our nature, it allows us to measure the state of our mind. The three gunas are always linked, connected, but unlike the doshas, the dominant guna can vary throughout our livesparticular time or day. They are always dynamically interacting. The gunas help us balance our lives through nutrition and the development of our personality.


Sattvic food increases vitality, vigor, health and joy, nourishes the body and promotes equanimity and meditation. They are tasty and oily foods, substantial and pleasant.

Sattvic foods: cereals, legumes, spices, dairy products, vegetables, nuts, corn, wheat, rice, oats, millet, quinoa, wholemeal bread, fresh fruits and vegetables, natural juices, seeds and sprouts, herbal teas.


The rajasic diet enhances a state of mind that causes stress and agitation. It excites the passions, the insatiable desire and makes the mind uncontrollable and greedy. It also undermines the health and balance of the body.

Rajasic foods: they are bitter, sour, very salty and spicy foods. Exciting foods like coffee or tea, garlic and onion, fish, eggs. Smoking and eating quickly increase rajas.


The tamasic diet leads to a loss of energy or a feeling of sluggishness and sluggishness. It produces lack of discernment and clumsiness. It destroys the body's resistance to disease, and fills the mind with ignorance and dark emotions like disappointment and pessimism.

Tamasic foods: meat, fish, alcohol, food that is too fried or too reheated. Precooked dishes and canned foods in general. Industrially processed foods. Fermented, rancid or overripe substances. Overeating is tamasic.

Have you ever noticed in your Yoga practice, the effects of what you have eaten?

A sattvic diet, based on fresh, light and nutritious foods, keeps the body lean and supple and the mind sharp and clear. In the same way that a more sattvic diet will help the practice of Yoga, so the regular practice of asanas, pranayana and meditation will cause the consciousness to change and rajasic and tamasic foods will begin to lose their appeal.

Sattvic people like foods that increase life, purity, strength, health, joy and good appetite, which are tasty and oily, rich and pleasant.
Sattvic food is very good for health, it produces joy, serenity and mental clarity and helps aspirants to enter deep meditation and maintain mental and nervous balance.


Can we influence the three gunas?

We, as human beings, we have the possibility to consciously change the levels of gunas in our body and mind. By altering the presence and influence of external objects, lifestyle and thoughts, we can increase or decrease the gunas. Whatever the predominance of the guna It will affect the way we perceive the world around us. It will affect behavior, attitude, actions, attachments, etc.

For example, a person who is predominantly tamasic will see everything as negative and destructive. A person who is more sattvic, on the other hand, will perceive the universe as positive and will find joy and happiness in everything. However, the mind is very unstable and can fluctuate very easily from one predominant guna to another. 

Accompany your practice and explore the three gunas with incense together with Yoga Ye.


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