Just how do the doshas connect with gunas and elements? We asked yoga teacher and Ayurvedic practitioner Robyn Lynch to give us her insight.
These three factors are often brought together when we are trying to understand the nature of being and the nature of balance.
I have found with Ayurveda that the more you know, the more doorways open to different levels of understanding and certainly these three, four if you include Prakruti, are part of this expansive thinking.
Sattva, rajas and tamas are the three gunas that create nature or Prakruti. The three are intertwined, constantly in a state of flux and flow, creating, transforming and completing or destroying. For equilibrium, the three gunas need to be balanced. There needs to be creation, action and completion. There also needs to be not too much or too little of any of these or imbalances occur.
Gunas create our nature and affect the balance of the elements within us and therein our Doshic balance. When I was studying Ayurveda, we learnt about the gunas prima
rily as affecting our mind state.
It is this mind state that then affects the choices we make and that affects our doshic balance or imbalance.
So for example when we spend too much time watching movies, drinking hot chocolate and eating cake, these are all tamasic attributes. Through these tamasic choices, the level of tamas rises within us and we increase the earth and water elements. These earth and water elements constitute Kapha so then we see t
he Kapha quality of heaviness, cloudiness and denseness being increased in our body and mind.
When we are looking to get out of this tamasic state, we need to bring in transformation – the rajasic guna characteristic. This will help to “fire us up” to make choices that are more beneficial for us. These choices, which could be more activity, foods with heating and digesting herbs, even boot camp, could take us out of the tamasic state and create transformation.
If we maintained this rajasic state, we would burn out, however it is necessary to draw us out of the tamasic state. Too much rajas, heated and spicy food, too much activity, too much competition will increase the elements of heat and water in our cons
titution. This is our Pitta element and we might find we become inflamed,
physically with a rash or reflux or emotionally with anger or judgments.
Then once we are out of the tamasic state and have moved into rajas, then weneed to cool that down a little and maintain a sattvic way of being, where we feel balanced. Although sattva is often the one that we are seeking, we still need some rajas and some tamas to keep us on an even keel.
The other two elements, ether and air make up the doshic quality of Vata. Vata is light and responsible for movement within the body as well as the nervous system and enthusiasm. When there is too much of these elements, Vata becomes aggravated and our mind lacks stability, we can become fearful and anxious, our body’s movements can be too fast or too slow or go in the wrong direction, we can feel unstable, physically cold and ungrounded. In this case, we may need to bring in some heavier foods, some slower activities, such as rest – which actually has a tamasic quality.
Imbalance in the three gunas may cause imbalance in the five elements and the three doshic humours, which creates poor health. When we understand the interplay of these three aspects, the elements, the gunas and the doshas , we are better able to obtain and maintain equilibrium and through that create harmony, develop longevity and good health.
Check out Robyn’s website: www.perfecthealthcentre.com.au
Robyn Lynch has been a long time lecturer on the IYTA Yoga Teacher Training course and is a member of IYTA.