Inside Yoga 10

Category : General advice, Philosophy 28th February 2011

(First published 27/6/2008)

All of us, to varying degrees, are aware of the different stages of the 24-hour daily cycle: there is dawn, the morning, afternoon, dusk or sunset, and night.

But how many of us notice how the levels of energy fluctuate through this daily cycle, how there is a rhythm both outside of us, in the world around us, and also within us?

In yoga, and also within its related subject, called ayurveda (which means is the yogic science of healing), there is a system called the three gunas.

The gunas are three prime qualities of nature, called sattva, rajas, and tamas. Everything in nature is a permutation of these three energies.
Sattva is the quality of harmony; rajas is the quality of action and agitation, while the third, tamas is the quality of darkness and inertia.
Though it is worth noting at this point, that a quality such as tamas is not to be seen as negative, while sattva positive. Because at night when we need to sleep, the quality of tamas will help us sleep.

This is where gunas and its knowledge is there to help us.
IN the average daily cycle the dawn is sattvic, then the day is regarded as rajasic, and then again at sunset the quality is sattvic, and then later when night has fallen the quality is tamasic.
A yoga practitioner becomes aware of the three gunas, and responds accordingly to these rhythms. For example, at dawn is a good time to meditate, to tap into that quality of sattvic energy, when the energy is in harmony. The in early morning after the dawn we practice asanas to fit in with the rising energy of the rajasic hours, which is active. And later, at night we can meditate but there reaches a point when that evening stillness moves from sattvic stillness to tamasic dullness and tiredness.

The yoga practitioner learns to move through the daily cycle in time with the rhythms (gunas) of the world outside, because within us we also have the rhythms of the three gunas.

We wish to be in harmony with the three gunas both within us and outside us. The ideal energy to harness is that of sattva, which is harmony and balance.
By practising yoga, and by that I refer to all aspects, asanas, meditation, diet, etc, you do become more sensitive to what your body is telling you and also what the world around you.

For example, in the morning, when its time to get going with the day, you shift the energy from tamasic sleepiness to become awake and energised for the day; while at in the evening, the practice would help remove stress and tiredness from the day, prior to slowing down for the evening. Whatever the time of the day, by practising yoga you aim to bring yourself to a sattvic state.

To understand this, I recommend trying for yourself, and observing how your yoga practice is affected by the time of the day and night.

To be continued

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