In yogic philosophy there are 3 main gunas, or qualities of our nature.
Rajas describes the quality of the agitated mind that’s likened to a hamster running around and around in it’s wheel.
Tamas describes the quality of lethargy and inertia.
As you can imagine, too much of either is not particularly beneficial for our mental health and overall well-being. The third guna, sattva, describes a state of balance, harmony, and equanimity.
Ideally, every yoga practice should bring us towards this state. Many other activities like being in nature, being with loved ones, taking a walk, dancing, and listening to music can also produce this state of equanimity.
Of course we’ll always experience moments of rajas or tamas in our lives, but as long as we spend more and more of our time in the sattvic state we’ll end up being happier and healthier individuals.
Try this short 10 min practice every day for one week and notice if you spend more time feeling sattvic versus rajasic or tamasic.
Sit or lie down comfortably with a neutral spine. Bring your attention to your breath. Feel it flow smoothly in and out of the belly, ribs, and chest. Attempt to count 10 breaths without losing your focus.
Cow & Cat Pose
Come to your hands and knees in table pose. Inhale lift your head and tail up towards the ceiling; exhale round your spine bringing your head and tail towards your belly button. Repeat 10x with a fluid motion following your relaxing breath rhythm.
Standing Side Bend
Inhale stretch your arms overhead; exhale bend to the right stretching your left arm overhead. Inhale lengthen up to the center; exhale bend to the left stretching your right arm overhead. Mindfully move back and forth for 4 sets.
Step your feet apart as wide as your hips. Inhale lift your arms out towards your side, exhale twist your body to the right letting your arms wrap around you. Inhale swing them back to center and exhale twist to the left. Mindfully continue back and forth for 4 sets.
Inhale reach your arms overhead and extend your spine into a comfortable back bend, exhale fold forward from the hips reaching toward the floor. Mindfully flow back and forth for 4 sets.
Stand with your legs wide apart with your hips rotating externally and your toes turning outward. Bend your knees and make sure the kneecap points in the same direction as your toes. Bring your hands to heart center and take 5-10 calm breaths.
Low Lunge – Anjaneyasana
Come down to your hands and knees in table pose. Lift up off your hands and step your right foot forward. Inhale reach your arms high over head; exhale relax your hips forward towards your right foot. Take 5 calm breaths and repeat on the left side.
Reclined Bound Angle Pose – Supta Baddha Konasana
Sit with the bottoms of your feet together and your knees relaxing open to the sides. Place rolled up blankets or pillows underneath your thighs so the weight of your legs can relax into the support. Place several stacked blankets or pillows behind your hips and slowly lie down on to your back. Make sure your head and neck are fully supported and that your forehead is slightly higher than your chin. This will be more calming for your nervous system.
Slowly increase the length of your exhales so they become longer than your inhales. Notice any physical or mental tension gradually melting away.
Relax in the pose for a minimum of 5 minutes. Exit the pose slowly and take time to really notice how you feel – mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Thank yourself for taking the time to practice today!