Should I be calm and under the
Social vagus or sattvic state
all the time?
No. Yoga does teach our bodies
to go into the sattvic state more
often and more efficiently. This
helps us to find balance in a world
dominated by extremes of rajas
and tamas. However, there is a
misconception that yoga should
make you perfectly calm all the time
and that if that doesn’t happen, you
are bad at yoga. Constant calm is
not the goal.
Your nervous system dynamically
fluctuates, as do the gunas,
throughout the day and over the
course of your life to help you rise
to the challenges your environment
presents. Through yoga, you
cultivate the capacity to be a non-
judgmental observer of the constant
changes so they don’t control you.
The ultimate ideal of this higher
state of pure consciousness
(also known as Purusha) is self-
realization: finding meaning and
connection amid the experience
of inevitable stressors. Increased
consciousness of any level
represents increased resilience.
How can I recognize and rebalance
the negative gunas?
The first step is to notice the
signals of stress and the negative
gunas in your body. These signals
are different for everybody. Does
your chest tighten or gut churn in an
agitated, rajasic state? Do you tend
to slouch or disassociate from
sensations in a dull, tamasic state?
Once you can recognize, identify,
and observe your signals effectively,
you can use the tools of yoga—
including physical poses, mudras,
breathwork, and meditation—to
activate the relaxation response.
Many yoga practices can be done
discreetly throughout the day: no
one will know that you are elongating
your exhales to calm down,
adjusting your posture, or taking
fuller breaths for more energy.
you cultivate the
capacity to be a
observer of the
so they don’t
Did you know?
80 percent of the vagus nerve’s
fibers send information from the
body to the brain. This makes it a key
pathway of interoception (internal
body awareness) from your heart
and gut to your brain. Yoga can
improve your interoception and
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