3 Gunas in life

In the 3 gunas’ philosophy, Sattvic, Rajasic and Tamasic are defined as the 3 fundamental qualities. These 3 gunas are generally defined as follows:

              Sattva: goodness, calmness, harmonious

              Rajas: passion, activity, movement

              Tamas: ignorance, inertia, laziness

3 gunas have a wide range of application as they basically apply for all the energies in nature, including food, types of people, actions or even attitudes, etc. Below are some examples of how the 3 gunas defines the qualities of common things in our life:

Types of food

To follow a yogic diet, we need food that provides vitality and energy, however still brings inner peace to the body and mind. From this perspective, sattvic food is the perfect fit for yogis. Natural, unprocessed vegetarian food that is grown under the sun fall under this category, such as fresh leafy vegetables, seasonal fruits and high-protein foods such as beans and nuts.

Compared with sattvic food, rajasic food also provides energies but tend to over-simulate the body with the strong tastes. For example, spicy food is delicious when we are enjoying it, but it ultimately produces pain throughout our digestive systems and burdens the organs. For tamasic food, such as read meat and mushrooms, could be tasty as well but makes a person dull and lazy. Thus best to avoid these 2 types of food before yoga practice and minimize consumption in the daily life.

Types of actions

While doing the same thing, we could do it with different intention and attitude, which will bring different outcomes as well. For example, when you want to compliment a person, it could be any of the 3 categories depends on the approach you do it:

              Sattvic: when you compliment the person heartfelt, with proper and sincere wordings

              Rajasic: overly-flatter the person, or with intention to get something in return

              Tamasic: using dull or insincere/improper wordings

Another example – there are many moments that we feel happy or joyful. However based on the reasons that led to such feelings, our happiness can fall under different categories as well.

              Sattvic: joy brought from inner peace of mind, or from achieving a long-term goal

              Rajasic: happiness from a surprise received, or a sensual moment we felt (e.g., by first tasting a nice dessert, coming across a scenic view on the train, etc.)

              Tamasic: from negligence of things


Wikimedia Foundation. (2022, March 2). Guṇa. Wikipedia. Retrieved September 25, 2022, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gu%E1%B9%87a#:~:text=There%20are%20three%20gunas%2C%20according,ignorance%2C%20inertia%2C%20laziness).