Ayurveda: Gunas

The Effect of Diet on Ritual:

The spiritual and ritual connection to what we eat is simple, what goes in, you get out.  A true way to ensure clean, pure energy is to ensure that is what is fueling your body. Foods are classified under 3 Gunas as sattvic, rajasic, or tamasic.  By changing our diets to eat more sattvic foods and fewer tamasic and rajasic foods, we can calm our minds and sharpen the intellect; increase life, purity, strength, health, joy, and cheer. These foods are soothing, nourishing, and full of Prana.  Details on the spiritual significance of the Gunas are provided below:


In Ayurveda tradition ones emotional and spiritual characteristics; or soul’s developmental level. is represented by the three Gunas.  To tie into our previous discussion, foods are also characterized by the gunas.  After a brief description of the Gunas, the foods which fall into each category will be addressed.


Comes from the root sat, meaning “being.” And is a balance of the other two Gunas.  Sattvas is expressed in awake mental clarity, allowing for the ability to acquire knowledge readily and retain it. With the mental clarity comes a tendency towards honesty, compassion and a selfless, spiritual disposition.  The mind is naturally sattvic, but it changes due to our experiences, emotions, and thoughts. If Sattva becomes out of balance, there can be a tendency towards too much pride and too little humility. The mind and spirit become rajas or tamas in nature.

A sattvic diet also includes balancing the tastes of sweet, salty, sour, pungent, bitter, and astringent.  Sattvic foods are fresh and dried fruits and berries, pure fruit juices, raw or lightly cooked vegetables, salads, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole-grain breads, honey, fresh herbs, herbal teas, and dairy products of milk and butter. The selection should be based on your doshic balance/imbalance and prepared accordingly.  Living a Sattvic lifestyle if far from easy, I struggle with choices on a daily basis, but it all comes down to my rituals and healing practice.  Take it one day (or meal) at a time. Don’t force it, and remember you’re human, but don’t use that as an excuse 😉


Comes from the root verb raj, which means “to glow.”  Rajas is energy, the mind is overactive, the result is imbalances.  A ‘type A’ aggressive personality would fall under Rajas.  With their keen sense of commerce and the peculiarities of their business partners they are usually successful in business.  Although often very intellectual, their weakness lies in their defencelessness towards the seduction of life and the drive to succeed.  These can result in stress related diseases, which heal slowly as a result of the impatient nature of the Rajas to allow themselves the time to heal.  Rajasic foods include processed foods, caffeinated foods and items containing refined sugars.


Comes from the root verb tam, which means “to perish.” Here the mind is under active. Tamas is the Guna which appears as heaviness and resistance. Tamas causes a weakening of perception and mental activity. This includes laziness, and sleepiness and can lead to addictions to ease their way through life if it becomes excessively out of balance. It is not just routine that Tamas avoid, they also avoid emotional strain or controversies, retreating within themselves rather than interacting. Tamasic people are stagnant, do not take responsibility for themselves, and do not take care of their bodies. This can lead to chronic illnesses.  Foods of tamas qualities are meat, fish, eggs, mushrooms, drugs, and alcohol.

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  1. Pingback: Journeying Series : Preparing the Mind & Body | Fireside Witch

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