You may be wondering what sattva means—it isn’t a word that we hear that often, even in a yoga class. Sattva is one of the three gunas (virtues) and is often translated as purity or peacefulness from Sanskrit. The other two gunas include tamas (darkness or lethargy) and rajas (energy or passion). These three gunas make up the world as we know it and often, we live in a state of one of these gunas without being aware of it. The overall aim of an ayurvedic and yogic lifestyle is to try and live a more balanced, elevated life.
We require the different qualities of the gunas to create change and movement in the world. We are living in turbulent times and one of the most effective ways to balance the external turbulence is to create a peaceful and abundant inner world. This is where sattva comes in to help you elevate your life and to reach your potential.
I, like many others came to the practice of yoga through the physical practice of asana (poses) that we often think encapsulates yoga. However, over the years my interest in the history and philosophy of yoga has deepened. Although asana is a useful tool to cultivate awareness and notice your habits, it’s with the inclusion of yoga philosophy and Ayurveda that real shifts can occur. You can incorporate sattva into many areas of your life; in your daily routine, your home, your diet and how you spend your time.
Develop Sattvic Rituals
One of the biggest changes you can make to your daily routine is to begin the day slowly and mindfully. I used to shock my body awake with the aggressive beep of an alarm clock. Nowadays (luckily for me) my neighbor’s rooster wakes me at dawn. If you lack a useful rooster next door, then why not try sleeping with your blinds half open so you can wake naturally as the sun starts to rise. It takes getting used to waking this way, but it can make a huge difference to the quality of your mind in the morning.
Waking slowly and moving mindfully through the first few precious hours of a new day really set the tone for a sattvic day. Before you rush into work or pick up your phone, try to journal how you visualize the day, or jot down any dreams you may have had. Or simply watch the sun rise while enjoying a warm cup of tea.
Meditation at this time is a wonderfully sattvic way to begin the day gracefully. It’s also very beneficial for your mental health to note a few things to are grateful for at the beginning of the day. This way, you move through the day from a place of gratitude.
Spend some time outside in nature every day if you can; read a few chapters of your book in the sun, go for an evening walk after dinner or care for the plants in your garden. Aim to eat the last meal of your day before 7 p.m. and aim to sleep before 10 p.m. so that you have enough time to rest and reset for the next day.
Create A Sattvic Home
A sattvic home is one that invites calm and peace to your soul. I’m personally drawn to earthy colors and natural materials; I find these soothing and help to ground me.
Avoid colors that distress you or are too garish. Especially if you are trying to invite a cozy and serene atmosphere into your home. Opt for natural light (where possible), soft lighting, and candlelight over bright overhead lights. Vibrant house plants bring nature inside and help clear the air for us. Caring for your plants is a beautiful way to connect to nature on a daily basis.
A clean and organized home helps to invite serenity and sattva into our lives. It’s easier to feel light and creative in a space that exudes warmth. The key here is balance: if some creative chaos helps you work then have a dedicated space for that. But try and keep some areas of the house simple and tidy. Having an uncluttered and tidy bedroom can do wonders for your sleep hygiene. An organized and clean kitchen makes it much easier to create nourishing and wholesome food. De-cluttering your home and giving away items you no longer use helps to create a lighter atmosphere. Create a dedicated space for your altar and meditation practice, then you can always retreat there if you feel agitated during the day.
Make wise choices in terms of your sensory input. Try to avoid mindless TV shows, horror movies, or violent crime. Instead, opt for an inspiring documentary, listen to uplifting music or read a good novel.
Eat A Sattvic Diet
Eating organic whole foods, food that is full of prana (life force) is the ideal way to create a more sattvic diet. Eating no animal products will help create a more peaceful plate for your mind and body to digest.
Just as important as what you eat, is how you eat. It can be tempting to eat in a rush and prepare food quickly. However, if you slow down and really take the time to give thanks to your food and chew with gratitude and awareness your body will receive the food in a more relaxed way. Eating slowly can also help with digestive problems. Try to avoid too much caffeine and alcohol, as these will upset the balance in your system. If you can’t go without your morning coffee, then make it into a beautiful ritual, be really present and enjoy every sip. Herbal teas and filtered water are the best way to hydrate your body and to nourish yourself throughout the day.
Move Mindfully, With Sattva At The Heart
Move your body more mindfully. I used to be guilty of throwing my body around just to get in a good workout. Or I’d run 10k every day, until my body screamed at me to stop. Now, I listen to my body and move in a more intuitive way. I love pilates—the focus is on form and proper alignment, so you are less likely to injure yourself. If you are going to practice yoga, do so with your body in mind. Everybody is different and some yoga poses are not accessible to all. Try and move with a teacher who offers many options for each pose. Our bodies are not machines, they are ever changing and honoring the movement our body needs each day is a real gift to yourself
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