Friday, November 25, 2016

Great Gunas!

If you just saw the title of this post you might have thought to yourself, what in the world does gunas mean? Lucky for you I'm going to share a little about the gunas today!

Always keep calm and do yoga!
In yoga terms the gunas are "the three ways that Prakriti (Shakti) manifests herself into the physical." In simple terms as it relates to yoga you can consider the gunas as a way to describe the energy of the poses or series of poses. I really liked this description in my yoga teacher training, YTT, manual "the gunas relate to lines of energy, edges of practice, as well as the struggle and intention in each particular pose."

First up is the guna rajas. Rajas is the forward/backward motion you would experience in a lunge or downward dog. Rajasic movement is dynamic, insistent, and passionate. In yoga it's typically the movement in and out of the poses. Rajasic emotions are anger, willfulness, and manipulation and can include participating in something excessively, often to the point of burnout.

From my YTT manual © Bodhi Yoga LLC
Next is the guna tamas. Tamas is the upward/downward motion experienced in mountain pose or many seated poses. Tamasic movement is an intrinsic lengthening; strong, deep, and internally focused. Tamasic emotions are slothfulness, inattentiveness, or lethargy.

From my YTT manual © Bodhi Yoga LLC
Finally we have the guna sattva. Sattvic movements are side to side experienced in warrior II or many balancing poses. Sattvic movements are light, delicate, and clear; the centering point of your practice. Sattvic emotions are balanced, pragmatic, and harmoznied.

From my YTT manual © Bodhi Yoga LLC
This is just a brief overview of the gunas that is, hopefully, described in a way that makes sense no matter where you are in your yoga journey. One of the things I have enjoyed most about YTT is the ability to deepen my knowledge of yoga. Over the years I have learned the Sanskrit names of many yoga poses and have experienced different things on my own but YTT has helped me learn the more subtle aspects of yoga that I wouldn't have otherwise known about. You can definitely practice yoga without knowing things like this but for me it was deepening my knowledge of yoga that has made this journey so rewarding.

Now that you know what the gunas are do you find you prefer poses in one particular guna? Do you feel knowing more about the energy of yoga poses is something that would help you in your practice? What doesn't make sense about the gunas? I will try to respond with additional information if it's helpful to anyone.

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