Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas

Every “Ayurvedist” is compelled to understand nature. This timeless yearning inspires Ayurveda lovers to search for practical ways to harmonize the body with the dynamics of its environment.

To better understand this approach to living in harmony requires observation of three universal qualities called sattva, rajas, and tamas. These qualities comprise everything in our physical nature and all energetic expressions within the universe. The following is an outline of each quality which will support your process in cultivating health.


Sattva literally means “true essence.” It represents qualities like strength of character, wisdom, and brilliance. Honing these virtues allows awareness to be directed toward the light of complete understanding. These values represent the majestic energy of sattva.

When we want to be healed on every level of our being, the desire is realized through sattvic awareness. It is an understanding of truth and humility that we are ready to improve the whole self.

Aligning with non-violent behavior as well as maintaining cleanliness and honesty allows sattva to flow. This is powerfully realized through relationships rooted in unconditional love and respect.

Sattvic harmony expands peace and devotion to higher truths like compassion and trust.

Within Ayurvedic diets, sattvic foods include most organic fruits and vegetables (leafy greens, carrots, and broccoli, for example), grains like basmati rice, and a few animal products like ghee and honey.

For our modern society, it’s important to state that sattvic foods are REAL FOOD—not wrapped in plastic, packaged in cardboard, or canned with preservatives. These sattvic foods are full of prana (the life force), easy to digest, and promote overall wellness and mental clarity.

Ayurveda also recognizes many sattvic herbs, such as tulsi (considered one of the most sattvic of all herbs), amalaki, ashwagandha, shatavari, and lotus seeds, among others.


Rajas translates as “passion” and it sparks thoughts along the lines of “I am doing.” From this fiery quality, the performance of fuel-driven action makes rajas the energy of movement and intensity.

The passion of rajas gives us excitement and the desire to follow a purpose or person.