Once we take into consideration vitality, we frequently take into consideration the bodily and psychological sorts—the oomph that helps us transfer by a vinyasa or deal with a process. It is easy to determine when these energies are lagging, and more often than not we all know find out how to replenish or stability them: We eat wholesome meals, relaxation, get out into nature, join with the folks we love, decide to a constant asana practice, or let go of some questionable habits.
However vitality is greater than what fuels the physique or the thoughts. Many historic traditions, equivalent to yoga, Taoism, Buddhism, and Hinduism—plus trendy physics—educate that every thing within the universe is vitality. A desk, a pc, and a bicycle are all types of vitality; every one vibrates at a velocity that means that you can see, contact, and use it. Each thought, feeling, and expertise you may have additionally has a singular vitality vibration that’s imprinted into the physique within the type of bodily sensations after which hopefully launched on the wave of the breath. This non-tangible vitality can greatest be understood by delving into one side of yoga’s delicate physique anatomy—the gunas.
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The gunas (Sanskrit for strands or qualities) are energetic forces that weave collectively to type the universe and every thing in it. There are three gunas, every with its personal distinctive attributes: tamas (stability), rajas (exercise), and sattva (consciousness). It would assist to think about gunas as tendencies: the routine methods you reply to any state of affairs that arises.
All three gunas are current in each expertise in a continually shifting relationship with each other. One high quality is all the time extra current or dominant than the others, relying on what problem you are going through—and, most essential, the way you reply to it. If you overreact as a result of somebody lower you off in site visitors, rajas turns into dominant. For those who emotionally shut all the way down to keep away from having a tough dialog, that is an indication that tamas has taken the reins. As you emerge from a gorgeous restorative observe, it’s possible you’ll expertise the sattvic high quality of pleasure.
Understanding the gunas is essential as a result of whereas the challenges of our on a regular basis lives can disturb their delicate balance, these energies, entwined in an intricate dance, create all that we’re, all that we see, and all that continues to be unseen. Tamas gives our basis; rajas offers it vitality and breath; sattva imbues it with consciousness and compassionate consciousness.
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Tamas, or stability, will get a nasty rap, typically being described solely because the power of entropy, lethargy, and stagnation. However its energetic vibration, which is sluggish and thick, additionally stabilizes and focuses. It’s the exhalation that calms and steadies. Tamas can be translated as “matter,” and it predominates in any object that’s seemingly strong—that desk, laptop computer, or bicycle. In nature, tamas destroys plant matter so it may be reabsorbed into the earth and nourish new life. In your physique, tamasic vitality is prevalent within the muscle tissue, bones, and ﬂesh; in asana observe it grounds your toes and helps you stability. In your thoughts, tamasic vitality is dominant if you really feel depressed, or when a heavy emotional burden makes it exhausting to get off the bed. When tamas is prevalent, you aren’t in a position to muster a lot enthusiasm for something, together with your observe. You may ﬁnd your self obsessing over a relationship gone fallacious or beating your self up for the alternatives you’ve made.
Shaking your arms as you raise your arms overhead a number of instances will get tamas unstuck, and so will shifting to music or a spherical or two of Solar Salutations or Kapalabhati Pranayama (skull-shining breath, which alternates brief, explosive exhalations with barely longer, passive inhalations). Seated meditation may trigger you to nod oﬀ, however strolling or chanting meditations work properly to raise vitality and focus the thoughts. Ayurvedic practitioners recommend staying away from tamasic meals, equivalent to meat, garlic, onions, and breads in addition to leftovers and selecting contemporary native fruit and veggies, minimally ready.
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Rajas, or exercise, is what will get issues shifting. In nature, rajas permits seeds to sprout, ﬂowers to germinate, and infants to be born. The vibration of rajas is at the next frequency than tamas. It’s the inhalation; it’s what will get you up within the morning and retains you going all day. Additionally it is the vitality of change, unbridled enthusiasm, ardour, and the self-conﬁdence to get stuﬀ carried out. Rajas vitality is future-directed and infrequently manifests as longing, craving, or sorrow. On the mat, rajas is what strikes you from pose to pose or lifts your arms up over your head. Changing into agitated along with your work or relationships may cause rajas to dominate, and so can overexerting your self in your observe or barging into conditions with out regard to what others really feel or want.
Decelerate, decelerate, decelerate. In your mat, encourage extra of the deliberate vitality of tamas to dampen down the ﬂightiness of rajas. Convey your consideration into your toes and interact your muscle tissue in a number of standing poses earlier than coming down onto your again in your favourite stress-free poses. Light pranayama practices, equivalent to Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril respiration) or Sitali (cooling breath; see web page 42), can clean out the nervous system, clear the thoughts, and funky down the physique. To tame rajas, Ayurveda recommends sitting down at each meal, staying away from spicy or fried meals, and consuming loads of antioxidant-rich meals, like leafy greens.
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Sattva, or consciousness, is radiant presence, unadulterated fact, and compassionate, selﬂess motion. The standard of sattva is evident, targeted, calm, and receptive. It’s the absolutely fashioned ﬂower, the fantastic thing about a sundown, the bounty from the backyard. Internally, it’s within the hole you expertise after the exhalation and earlier than the inhalation comes once more—the pause the place you might be free from ideas, worries, and judgments, only for the second, as a way to hear and act extra out of your increased mind and fewer from ego. You expertise sattva on the mat primarily in meditation or everytime you decide to going inward, listening to your physique, and shifting in sync along with your breath. Cultivating sattvic concord is the objective of yoga and of the pure world. It could actually shine forth solely when tamas and rajas are balanced, which is a continuing dance of the energies—second by second, as we discover how we meet every expertise that presents itself.
The Bhagavad Gita fairly clearly tells us that if we need to have a extra sattvic life, now we have to take higher care of ourselves. Eat contemporary foods (a plant-based weight loss program that’s natural and native, as a lot as attainable). Get to sleep at an honest hour and awaken at daybreak as a result of, in keeping with Ayurveda, that’s when your vitality is most conducive to meditating (do it day by day). Spend time alone in nature if you happen to can. Decide to being in silence (within the trendy world, that additionally means placing apart your electronics). Follow devotion (bhakti yoga) and supply openhearted service for the beneﬁt of all beings.
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