Bringing Ayurveda into your yoga practice is a powerful way to deepen your experience on the mat and heal from within. The best way to highlight Ayurveda in yoga is through the gunas or qualities of nature.
The gunas or qualities of nature are not just stagnant or theoretical concepts in yoga philosophy and Ayurveda. Rather, they are a profound tool to help you understand yourself on a deeper level and transform your yoga practice to suit your needs.
Today, we will explore the gunas of Ayurveda and how you can use them in your yoga practice and in the unique Ayurvedic approach to yoga so that you can take these concepts out of the book and onto the mat!
What are the Gunas?
The word “guna” directly translates to mean “that which binds” in Sanskrit because when they are not understood correctly, they can bind us to the material world. But the gunas can also provide a window into your inner state and give you a more practical understanding of your manas prakriti or mental constitution.
There are three primary gunas:
· Sattva = mode of intelligence, balance, purity, harmony, clarity, balance, heaven, and spirituality
· Rajas = mode of energy, passion, transition, desire, motion, action, and change
· Tamas = mode of inertia, darkness, ignorance, separateness, and materiality
Although some gunas may appear “good” and others “bad,” they are all essential components of life and your inner being. We are both shadow and light, good and bad, positive and negative. Like yin and yang, without one, we cannot define the other. So, the goal is not to discard tamas and rajas to focus purely on sattva. Instead, the goal is to understand each of these qualities of the world and the self to bring them into union with each other.
The more you come into balance with these qualities in your life, the greater you can reduce the veil of suffering and get in touch with a profound transformation from within. The pathway to healing comes through emphasizing sattva or peace and clarity while also acknowledging the value of the energy of rajas and the resting quality of tamas.
The Importance of the Gunas in Yoga Practice
The gunas can also inform your yoga practice by providing a guide for what you need at any particular moment. Throughout life, we tend to shift at various times into one primary guna. When you are primarily in the mental state of a specific guna, your needs will be different from other times.
For example, if your mental state is primarily fixed into the tamasic guna, the quality of inertia, then what you may need at that moment is more movement and flow in your yoga practice to help break up stagnant energy in your body. However, if your mental state is primarily fixed on the rajasic guna, the quality of movement, then what you may need instead is to focus on restoration and quieting the mind through a yin or restorative yoga practice.
By learning to tune into your inner state, you can begin to unlock your needs at any moment and bring yourself back into balance. Our needs are continually changing, and it is vital to be aware of these inner changes to maintain inner harmony.
The Ayurvedic Approach to Yoga Practice
The Ayurvedic approach to yoga practice focuses on understanding both the gunas that change throughout life along with your prakriti or constitution that is determined at birth and consists of one dominant dosha (vata, pitta, or kapha). Yoga, through the lens of Ayurveda, acknowledges that we each have unique body types and needs that tend to remain consistent throughout life. So, the abilities and needs of one person will not be the same as another. We are all unique in our own unusual and beautiful ways, and by understanding our constitution, we can tailor our yoga practice in line with this as well.
Yoga for your dosha and the gunas honors the unique and changeable nature of the self and life. By utilizing this approach to Ayurveda in yoga practice, you can bring yourself closer to a state of balance and perfect health.
If you are interested in learning more about the Ayurvedic approach to yoga and yoga practice for your dosha or gunas, check out my website or contact me for a one-on-one consultation so that I can design a tailored Ayurvedic yoga therapy practice for your needs!
See you next time (: