You Are What You Eat

Gunas are the qualities representing the natural evolutionary process, and anything in nature has these qualities such as people, activities, and of course even the food we eat. The 3 gunas are Sattva (pure), Raja (stimulating) and Tama (dull).

While each of us has all these three qualities, there is always one guna that dominates the way we feel, act and think. Interestingly, the type of food we eat – whether sattvic, rajasic or tamasic, significantly affects which guna dominates us as beings. Remember the saying “we are what we eat”?

Let’s first briefly define gunas in relation to food:

Sattvic food like organic fruits, fresh and easily digestible vegetables, beans, whole grains and some nuts, will give you an abundance of energy and will make you feel lighter, more peaceful, happier, centered and have a generally more positive outlook in life.

Rajasic food are very stimulating and influences a very passionate and driven attitude. Of course we all know that with passion & desire, comes the possibilities of pleasure & pain, high expectations & great frustrations, and even greed. Examples of rajasic food are onion, garlic, chili, and anything with caffeine.

Tamasic food, on the other hand, can make you feel lazy, distracted and at your lowest energy level. Preserved (food with preservatives and chemicals), canned, frozen, dried and oily food, meat, eggs and liquor are tamasic food.

Hey now, calm down! Do not be too intimidated by this. If you are not really on a spiritual path to yogi heaven or guru-dom, you do not need to get rid of all tamasic and rajasic food and just go pure sattvic. You do, though, need to have all 3 guna food types in moderation for your general health and wellbeing 😉 Okay, I know what I just said is pretty much actually easier said than done. To eat the three guna food types in moderation is a bit of a challenge as most of us eat mostly tamasic and rajasic.

Let me share a personal experience. I have always considered myself a generally healthy person. I seldom buy food from outside, especially from the hawkers because I would like to avoid food that are deep fried and too oily, plus I do not really know what goes in the food if I’m not the one preparing it. So I try my best to prepare my own food like sandwiches, pasta, wraps and the like. But guess what? Because of my very hectic work schedule, out of convenience, I stock up my fridge and cupboard with ingredients that will last and will not have me running back and forth the grocery a.k.a. canned vegetables, instant pasta, bottled pasta sauce, non-organic (also meaning affordable) vegetables and vacuum sealed ham. Ta-da! And that’s how you turn a genuine intent to be healthy into a tamasic nightmare of disastrous proportions!

So yes, it really is not that easy to shift into a well-guna-balanced diet but, hey, awareness is always the first step. From this first step follows a fun journey of truly becoming mindful of what you eat, and enjoying every step of the journey towards a balanced, calmer and more blissful YOU.


© Karen Cornejo, June 2014


A Greater Appreciation for Yoga Teachers

I never really seriously thought about what it takes to become a yoga teacher. The very few times it crossed my mind before, I thought it was just mastering different sequences and learning how to clearly give instructions to students. Boy was that assumption so inadequate!

Now that I’m doing the 200-hour teacher training course and learning from very experienced teachers and masters, I have a way much better appreciation of yoga teachers. Here are just a few amazing things you may not know about your yoga teacher (and the things you would also need to learn if you want to become one):

#1 They have mastered the anatomy of the body – the skeletal system, muscular system, digestive system, respiratory system, cardiovascular system, endocrine system and nervous system – and how different asanas, pranayamas and kriyas can help support each of them so that they can help you attain better wellbeing.

#2 They know each type of body motion involved in each asana you do. Whether it’s adduction, abduction, flexion, extension, rotation, elevation, depression, pronation, supination, inversion.  SE-RI-OUS-LY. They know which muscles work in each asana, and whether they contract or stretch, and they make sure that each pose you make is followed by the appropriate counterpose. They do all these to make sure your muscles are strengthened and that you will not have any injuries.

#3 They are the ultimate multi-tasking machines. OMG! In each class, they give you the clearest instructions, demo the pose, scan the entire room to see who needs help, rush gracefully to students who need assistance and adjust them with a good combination of firmness and gentleness, all these while breathing with you and counting breaths for you.

#4 They have a great tolerance for the smell and feel of your sweat 😉

These are just a few cool things they do but more than enough reason for you to give your teacher a nice, big hug (or maybe a pat on the back if a hug would seem too weird) and a heartfelt thanks the next time you go for a class.


© Karen Cornejo, June 2014


Yoga is for Everyone

I cannot believe I am only two weeks away from completing my 200-hour yoga teacher training! Back track to March last year when I started practicing yoga, I never would have thought of pursuing a course like this, attempting to teach or even deepening my practice. How could I? My hips were too tight, I could not even do a half lotus and overall, I just was not that flexible.

But a lot of things changed since then.

I am grateful for all the teachers I’ve had who would always remind us, students, that it is not about how perfect you look in poses, but it is the intention and awareness you bring into each asana that matters. You could be the stiffest of stiffs, the most inflexible of inflexibles, and still be able to do fulfilling asanas with your genuine intention, and pure awareness of your alignment and breathing.

So I continued to expose myself to different classes in Singapore and sometimes would go to Koh Samui or Bali to attend yoga retreats. Appreciating all the goodness, calmness and positive energy I started experiencing in my life through my yoga practice, I decided to give teacher training a shot because I would like to give back and help others experience what I have been experiencing.

Now, you may ask, how is my practice now that I am almost done with the course? Well, I am learning a load of things I cannot wait to share with others! As for my asana – well, my hips are still tight, though, very slowly, I can feel them opening. I still could not do a full lotus but I could do half and a whole lot of different asanas I never thought I could ever do like headstands and arm balances. My asanas may not look as perfect as what you would see in books, video clips or as done by yoga teachers, but it is okay – because it is a continuous practice, and with each practice, I feel stronger, more centered, happier.

Besides, asana is just one out of eight limbs of yoga. And all these limbs welcome anybody – regardless of flexibility, body type, health condition, age, race, or gender – who would like to take that journey towards a union of mind, body and soul. So yoga is indeed for everyone and it can only bring positive things in your life like good health, strength, stamina, calmness and a liberating awareness of the present.

Cheers 😉

© Karen Cornejo, May 2014