According to Yogic philosophy, the material world arises from the underlying field of pulsating energy, known in Sanskrit as “prakriti.” Within this field, there are three energetic qualities that comprise physical existence. These three qualities or gunas are known as tamas, rajas and sattva. Tamas is comprised of the qualities of heaviness, darkness, denseness and inertia. Rajas holds the qualities of movement, energy and fire. Sattva is the very light vibrational energy of purity, goodness and pervading peace.
Ultimately, the goal and path of Yoga is one of purification of the tamasic and rajasic qualities into the purity and light of the sattvic guna. This is the light of God’s presence, both within ourselves and in the external world. By introducing these three gunas to your Yoga students, you will be able to teach them about the underlying alchemical processes of the various Yoga practices and techniques. This will help to frame the practice of asanas, meditation and pranayama exercises into the classical Yogic goal of experiencing union with the divine.
Many students and teachers begin practicing Yoga in order to release inertia, heaviness and lethargy. The practice of asanas, particularly when done in a heated room or in a flowing, vinyasa fashion, will definitely help to move stuck energy, release stress and tension and increase the pulsation of the life force throughout one’s being. To place the practice of “moving stuck energy” through a challenging asana and pranayama practice into the traditional Yogic framework of alchemy, will help your students to understand the purifying and uplifting practice of Yoga in a more comprehensive manner.
When you are introducing the concept of tamas to your Yoga students, you may want to explain the general concept of the three gunas first. In this way, they will have a general understanding of the basic Yogic concept of creation. After introducing the three gunas, illustrating tamas with examples from everyday life, even you own life, will help your students to further understand the effect of too much tamas on their experience of life. Tamas is often experienced as a lack of energy, a sense of heaviness, inertia, indifference and even depression. The process of releasing tamas from our bodies and minds usually begins with the movement and energy of the rajasic guna. Moving one’s body through a complete practice of Yoga asanas and breathing exercises is a sure fire way to begin to ultimately transform ourselves into lightness, love and peace.
© Copyright 2013 – Virginia Iversen – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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