Through the yogic lens, all of life is made up of three essential qualities. These qualities are called the gunas, and according to Sankhya philosophy, they are the three characteristics in which prakriti, or cosmic matter, can manifest.
In Light on Yoga, B.K.S. Iyengar offers some simple explanations to describe the three gunas: rajas, tamas, and sattva. Rajas is the quality of activity and mobility that is responsible for movement, and having an excess of rajas can lead to willful stubbornness. Tamas is the quality of inertia and form and is associated with delusion, obscurity, and ignorance. Sattva is often considered a goal of one’s yoga practice and is the quality of clarity, tranquility, and truth-illumination.
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While one guna may be more dominant within you than another guna, it’s important that we embrace all three gunas because they each have an essential role in our lives. In doing so, we can view the gunas as a complete and functional system, which, when utilized wisely, brings us into balance. Learn more about your primary guna by taking this quiz.