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What is Sattva in Yoga?

You probably know this, but practicing yoga is more than just doing 2 sessions a week and doing some flexibility exercises. It’s much more than that. It is indeed a way of life, with its great habits to take.

This consists of many very specific points that need to be adapted, such as your diet, the main source of influence of the Sattva. To learn more about this vital guna, let’s discuss its definition, its links with other gunas, as well as its role in modern yoga.

What is the Sattva?

Sattva, a Sanskrit term that literally means existence, reality, nature, the vital principle or consciousness, is also found in the philosophy of Samkhya. In the latter, sattva means white, and is one of the three guna (quality) of nature.

It is the holy essence of purity as well as truth. Remember the Bhagavad-Gita, because Krishna explains in the latter what the three gunas are; Sattva, rajas and tamas. Here is for the historical point.

The three gunas

We talk about this above, but it seems to us more than important to explain in depth what the three gunas are. As a reminder, guna means the psychic quality of the mind, and there are 3 of them. They play an essential role in our mental health, both positive and negative. 

The three gunas are:

-      Sattva: knowledge, purity, harmony

-      Rajas: Action, Passion

-      Tamas: inertia, ignorance

Ayurveda, which is nothing more than the science of holistic health, clearly explains the links between the body and the mind. The gunas are therefore the qualities, but they are also seen as impulses, influences.

The three main gunas are contained in all life forms, and are balanced. Like the 5 elements present in the body, the mind possesses three gunas. Thanks to them, all life forms such as animals, plants, and human beings of course can be classified.

Influenced by the environment, emotional context and diet, gunas are highly variable and expressive. When you are in a state of peace and harmony, it is a typical sattvic behavior. If you seek to balance yourself on one side or the other, you can choose rajasic or tamasic foods according to your preferences, which will have the effect of balancing or unbalancing your mind.



Two laws govern gunas.

  1. The law of alternation stipulates that these three forces interact constantly and dynamically, they are related and affect each other.
  2. The law of continuity, meanwhile, stipulates that gunas maintain their specific nature when they are dominant.

Schema of the Sattva

How is that beneficial?

Ayurveda seeks to find the best balance between these three gunas. And by the best balance, we want to minimize Rajas and Tamas as they are the most harmful to your health. Indeed, they are direct factors of mental illness, physical illness and spiritual ignorance, while Sattva is the key factor of healing.

Tamas is a generator of toxins and waste at the physical level, and creates a negative mindset that will cause depression and other chronic diseases, among others.

Rajas, on the other hand, will make you go from a sick state to a normal one, because he has an energy that keeps moving. The goal is to keep Sattva dominant, as it is synonymous with mental and physical health. It protects against diseases and you balance, whether on the physical or psychological level.

The place of Sattva in yoga

The development of consciousness must be our main goal in our life, and Ayurveda is there to help us. It teaches us how to stay healthy and to eliminate any diseases that come to parasitize us. It is thanks to a healthy body that we can work on our mind in peace, this is the place of Sattva in yoga. Of all the treatments offered by this method, two stand out and seem particularly essential:

-      Abhyanga: this is the basic massage of this ayurvedic therapy. It is generally practiced on the whole body with medicinal hot oil. It focuses on eliminating fatigue and increasing energy, while eliminating toxins, activating the lymphatic and blood systems and slowing down the aging process of the body. It is a real treatment of the body and mind, which allows the cared to relax entirely thanks to the expertise of the masseur.

-      Shirodhara: also an extremely important care, especially at the level of the mind. It is an anti-stress treatment that consists of receiving a continuous stream of hot oil on the forehead. It nourishes the nervous system, clarifies the mind and provides a very deep state of mental and subtle relaxation. This treatment allows the patient to reach a higher level of consciousness because it frees the mind from any heaviness.

Like viniyoga, sattva is an essential knowledge that must be mastered. If, after reading this article, you are still not convinced of the influence of diet on your mental health, we advise you to learn more about it and you will understand how essential it is.

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