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the three Gunas: in everything, in everyone, in motion

Guna, a Sanskrit word describing the qualities or properties of something.

The concept "gunas" comes from Samkhya, a school of Indian philosophy:  Everything in the world, it's philosophized, is made up of various quantities of the three gunas Rajas, Tamas, and Sattva.  The composition of how much something --or someone-- possesses of each of the qualities of the three gunas give that thing --or person-- its attributes. It's believed the gunas are always shifting and changing including within ourselves. Here's a quick read on the three gunas:

Rajas represents the quality of activity, stimulation, motion, motivation. Excessive rajas can manifest in a person as anger, incessant desire, an active mind, being overly competitive, and restless agitation. 

The benefit of rajas in moderation?  A curious mind, a discerning eye, activism, engagement. Healthy rajas also give us the motivation and energy to complete tasks and accomplish goals.

Tamas represents inertia, dullness. Imbalance or excessive tamas in a person can manifest as resistance to change, sleepiness, stagnancy, laziness, negativity, doubt, dullness in the mind and in extreme cases depression. 

The benefit of tamas in moderation? Quiet space, considered caution. Tamas in moderation is required for us to feel stable, grounded, and even to get a good night's rest. 

Sattva represents the qualities of balance, harmony, peace, love, compassion, wisdom, radiance, non-violence, light, adaptability. This is the guna to seek and practice, even in the simplest of expressions: a few deep breaths, approaching yourself with compassion, soaking in sun rays, folding your hands across your heart. 

Wishing you an abundance sattva with healthy doses of rajas and tamas. Enjoy your journey.


San Francisco Bay Area-based Jenna Maryn Mitchell teaches public yoga classes and workshops and leads retreats internationally. Her teaching style is mindful, empowering, and lighthearted. Her energizing classes emphasize alignment and form to build strength, increase flexibility, and develop more functional movement patterns while emphasizing breath to encourage focus, relieve stress and facilitate deeper states of meditation. Yoga, Jenna testifies, has forever changed her life for the better and she is eternally grateful to be able to share this ancient science of healing and self-discovery.  Find her on Instagram @jennamarynyoga

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