By Lisa Bailer, Student: San Diego College of Ayurveda
(Ayurveda Wellness Practitioner Program)
An overview of the three gunas in Ayurvedic Psychological Principles
1. First Guna - Sattva Guna (Mode of Purity) is good, nourishing, harmonious, this is the ultimate goal of our mind. When moving out of sattva mode you can exhibit fear, anxiety and restlessness and worry- similar to vata imbalance.
2. Second Guna - Rajas (Mode of Passion or activity) is active , creative, initiates change. In the negative it is angry, aggressive, jealous, hatred.
3. Third Guna - Tamas (Mode of lethargy) is slow going, lethargic, passive. In the negative it can be destruction, selfish, attachment.
In a sense pitta dosha can be equated to Rajaguna and Kapha can be like tamagun, especially when out of balance. Pitta Imbalance may lead to emotions like anger, jealousy, being competitive and aggressive while kapha in an imbalanced state may get sentimental, greedy and attached so that is turns to destruction of whatever it is attached to.
Since vata governs all, it can display any of the above qualities of the gunas.
To balance a rajastic mind Pitta types should use mantra meditation, left nostril breathing and visualize cool and calming things. Daily affirmations of forgiveness and acceptance with compassion can decrease rajastic mind. Asanas with moon salutations and yoga nidra are calming and cooling.
Kapha types need to let go and move away from tamasic mind and move to rajistic mind so walking meditation to keep them moving and increased pranayama to stimulate opening and space in the mind. Affirmations on detachment and independence. Bhakti yoga which focuses on love and usually involves groups to keep them motivated may help.
Vata types need to calm their minds so doing mantra or visual meditation will help keep their minds focused. Asanas with slow sun salutations, Affirmations of peace, security and supported by t he universe are to help alleviate their tendency toward worry and doubt.
Student: Ayurveda Wellness Practitioner Program, San Diego College of Ayurveda
Meditation helps decrease stress, promote focus as well as help individuals be more conscious and aware of their mind and itʼs behavior.
When determining what meditation is best for an individual a practitioner should consider
i The individuals dominant dosha - Vata, Pitta and Kapha
ii The 3 gunas (Sattva, Tamas, Rajas), and,
iii Consider the theory of similar and dissimilar to help bring the mind back in balance.
A vata mind is dominated by the air quality and is all about movement so they tend to get mentally ungrounded, scattered, anxious or spacey when out of balance.
They should practice meditations that help keep them grounded, enhance stability, and help them release stress and stay focused. All meditations
help vata in some beneficial way but some in particular like TM, Zen, and Yoga Nidra are more calming and can help ease a vata mind.
Trees and mountains are solid, rooted, earthy, grounded so meditating in nature and near or around them
can have a grounding effect on vatas in tamas.
Sitting in peaceful contemplation near water can be good for both vata and pitta minds in tamas.
Water is very soothing to all the senses so sitting in deep contemplation with their feet in the water, taking in the peaceful sounds of the surroundings, the smells, and the energetics of the flowing water can instantly sooth and ease any disturbed mind.
Rajasic vatas tends to be hyperactive and nervous so a sitting meditation will not be a good choice for them.
They should instead do a walking meditation on a
beach or take a peaceful hike in a woodsy area.
When in tamas their focus should be on feeling grounded on the earth with each step they take.
Consciously sensing and feeling the ground beneath them.
If possible they should walk slowly and also pay attention to all the sounds, smells, and sights of their surroundings.
Walking meditation is also great for lazy kaphas in tamas to get them up and moving.
Since kaphas can be heavy and lethargic they can benefit more by doing stimulating pranayama techniques before any meditation.
Because of their lazy and unmotivated tendency, kaphas will do better when encouraged in group meditation or when participating in kirtana.
Mantra mediation can help an emotional kappa in rajas.
Practicing loving kindness and doing a meditation that opens their heart chakra is great for promoting sattva in Kapha individuals.
Pitta individuals would benefit greatly from meditation that stimulates and promotes peace of mind.
Japa and mantra meditation is great to mentally stimulate and sharpen the mind.
Soothing meditations in nature or by water as
mentioned above help cool and ease a pitta in tamas.
Pitta should also do pranayama techniques - while practicing meditation to help promote sensory control for a mind in rajas.