Secrets to the Gunas

Have you ever heard of the Gunas? What are the secrets of the Gunas? According to yoga there are three basic qualities or energies that make up everything.

3 Gunas

What are Guna in Ayurveda?

The Three Gunas of Ayurveda. Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas, are universal energies that are ever present and in flux. The Gunas are a key concept of Ayurveda and must be understood before Ayurveda Psychology begins to unfold. “Sattva” is the quality of goodness, truth, clarity, and love. It brings joy, health and healing.


Rajas is the energy of action, change and movement. Rajas is the fuel of passion and fire. Rajasic energy is also associated with the day light hours. We obviously need rajasic energy to create energy to move successfully throughout our world and lives. When we have too much rajasic energy we might appear to the outside world as extremely busy, go, do! Does this sound like you?

Maintaining a high degree of rajasic energy leads to burn out! When rajas is out of balance the mind and body are overstimulated, the mind becomes restless and you experience a lot of uncontrollable thoughts.

Foods that are rajasic include: spicy food, fried food’s, coffee / caffeinated beverages/ stimulants/ fish, eggs, chocolate, food’s that are very bitter, sour, dry and salty. Eating in a hurry is also considered rajasic


Tamas can be thought of as the opposite of rajas. Tamasic energy is associated with a state of inactivity and inertia, heaviness and darkness. When tamas is out of balance your ability to reason becomes clouded and you might experience the darker emotions such as anger or greed.

Just as there is more rajasic energy present in daylight hours, tamasic energy is present during nighttime. People who are very tamasic might be depressed or appear lazy. Generally speaking disease states are tamasic.

Examples of tamasic food include: meat, alcohol, tobacco, onions, fermented food’s vinegar or strong cheese, stale food or over ripe food, overly processed food or chemically treated. Overeating is considered tamasic.


Sattva is energy that is in a state of harmony and balance. Positive mental and emotional states of joy and intelligence are associated with sattva. A person who was experiencing a lot of sattvic energy would appear very happy. Sattvic energy also is consistent with healing states and in Ayurveda (yoga sister science) sattvic energy is actively cultivated. Sattvic energy is most present during the times between light and dark- in other words dusk and dawn.

A person on the yogic path is focused on developing sattva and for this reason yoga asana and meditation are classically performed at these times.

Foods that are sattvic include: whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, pure fruit juice, legumes, milk, butter, nuts, seeds, sprouted seeds, honey and herb teas.

3 Gunas

What is your Gunas?

It is important to realize that we all have all three gunas within us. And while this is true we tend to have a predominant guna. Based on the descriptions above can you figure out what yours is?

It is good to be aware of this because once you are aware of your predominant guna then you can predict how might react to certain life circumstances as well know your strengths and weaknesses. You’ll know when you will tend to be thrown out of balance and what you will need to do to bring yourself back into balance.

You also might have times in our lives when one guna is more active then another. Perhaps you have very active time and very productive (rajasic). Or a period when you have been depressed (tamasic). Or a time when we are very balanced and in tune with your spirituality (satvic).

Another way the gunas show up in our lives and directly affect us is through the food we eat. Consider for a minute the average American diet with overly processed and chemically treated food’s which are very tamasic. Modern science now confirms that these food items are directly linked to major illnesses including cancer, obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

As mentioned above too much tamasic energy leads to disease states. We also know that food’s in their whole form such as grains, fresh fruits and vegetables (sattvic food’s) are life sustaining and bring health and energy.

What is a Guna in yoga?

Guna is a Sanskrit word which translates as “quality, peculiarity, attribute, or tendency.” In yoga and Ayurveda, a guna is a tattva or element of reality that can affect our psychological, emotional and energetic states.

Do you practice yoga postures (asana)? How do the gunas show up here? Is your asana practice fiery and passionate? Was your practice was slow and lazy? Or was it balanced?

It is probably becoming clear to you by now that to be healthy, happy, and live a balance life it is important to cultivate sattva in your life.

This can be done by:

Reducing rajas and tamas

Becoming aware of when you are out of balance- which guna seems most present?

Increase activities and environments that produce positive thoughts

Eating a healthy, sattvic oriented diet

Certain herbs (subject for another article)

The practice of yoga:

Pranayama (breathing practices), asana (postures), meditation.

Lotus flower


Personal  and spiritual growth are lifetime journeys—a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t beat yourself up for the mistakes you make, you will only make it worst. (tamas)

I would love to hear your thoughts about this post or this site in general.

I will answer all the comments on my website personally so drop me a line below if you have any Yoga questions or comments.

I’m happy to help any way that I can.


Namaste Shane.

Disclaimer: Tips and suggestions mentioned in the article are for general information purpose only and should not be construed as professional medical advice.  Always consult your doctor or a dietitian before starting any fitness program or making any changes to your diet.

4 thoughts on “Secrets to the Gunas”

  1. You’ve done a great job and written a very informative article on this type of yoga. I definitely learned something new today that I didn’t know before about gunas this will definitely be a helpful resource for someone looking into doing this kind of thing. I think that yoga has a very positive impact on people and there lives and should be practiced by more people so that they can see what benefits it provides. Keep up the good work


    • Hello Jonathon, 

      Thank you for taking the time to read my post on the Gunas. 

      Glad to hear you found this topic informative.

      This topic would not be as well known in the wider yoga community. 

      Appreciate your feedback. 

      Namaste Shane. 

  2. I love this post and your explanation of the three energies. Everything in balance, that’s the main message I got. Too much Rajas will make us overactive, whereas too much of Tamas will make us lethargic. I suppose we should aim for Satvic energy to be our predominant energy, since it is the energy of harmony and balance.

    • Hello Clark, 

      Thank you for the feed back you have given me. 

      A balance is the best option. 

      Can be difficult to find. 

      Namaste Shane.


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