All material in nature is made up of the interplay of three energies or "gunas". They are mentioned in the Yoga Sutras, The Upanishads and The Bhagavad Gita. Part of the work of yoga is to go beyond the limitation of seeing life as forms and concepts, and to see the underlying qualities of things.
The Gunas can be found in all beings and objects surrounding us. The Yoga aspirant always exerts to increase Sattva in his/her lifestyle. One of the most dramatic changes that can be made is adjusting our diet.
Remember, a Sattvic diet is not necessarially a healthy diet. The idea is to calm the mind ready for meditation. Always change your diet gradually, reducing tamasic foods first, then rajasic.
The quality of inertia, cohesiveness, darkness, solid, dull, insensible, gloomy and dark energy. Associated with death.
Positive attributes - stability, loyalty, well-rooted values. Too much tamas results in someone who is sluggish, dull, blinded by greed, lethargic, lazy or slothful. Unconscious of the needs of others, dark and destructive.
A natural example is a mountain.
The Sanskrit word literally means "darkness, dark-blue, black"
The quality of harmony, balance, purity and light - calm, peaceful and clear energy, centred, happy, compassionate and unselfish. Associated with life.
A natural example is sunlight.
"Sat" means "being, as it should be, perfect"
The quality of motion, activity and fire - Passionate, frenetic, creative, tumultuous energy, binds to passion. Rajas allows the process of change. Associated with birth.
Possitive attributes energy, enthusiasm, activity. When ragistic energy dominates the subject becomes full of desire, thirsting for worldly enjoyment, and even at more extreme ends of the scale, fuelled by competition and ambitiousness, with emotional or violent moods.
A natural example is a volcanic eruption. Sanskrit root means "impure"
How food affects the gunas/enengies
A tamasic diet benefits neither the mind nor the body. Prana, or energy, is withdrawn, powers of reasoning become clouded and a sense of inertia sets in. The body's resistance to disease is destroyed and the mind filled with dark emotions, such as anger and greed.
Sattvic food nourishes the body and maintains it in a peaceful state, calms and purifies the mind, enabling it to function at its maximum potential.
Ragistic foods help to push away the inertia of tamasic energy, but can destroy the mind-body equilibrium, feeding the body at the expense of the mind. Too much rajasic food will over-stimulate the body and excite the passions, making the mind restless and uncontrollable. Result is a hard time sleeping at night and feeling anxious and stressed out.
Which food raises which guna?
Janet's personal experience of trying a sattvic diet for a week