Ayurveda, being the sister science of yoga, is a holistic system of medicine that values the health of the mind and spirit as much as the health of the physical body. One of my favourite areas to study is the realm of our mind, our consciousness and the cultivation of Sattva.
So what is Sattva?
The sanskrit word Sattva can be interpreted to mean light, purity of consciousness and living in alignment with one’s true self. It is one of the three gunas (qualities) of the mind in Ayurvedic medicine that can be cultivated for a healthy, balanced, harmonious life. In Ayurveda, health is considered to be the result of living in harmony with yourself and the world around you.
When we are in harmony with ourselves, we are established in our own truth and connected to our body’s profound wisdom and intelligence. Sattva is our true balanced state. Balance occurs when we are nourished on every level. This requires listening to what your body needs and taking daily actions consistent with this wisdom. Sattva influences our thoughts, words and actions by intelligently guiding us towards that which is in alignment with our highest potential and dharma (purpose in life).
I like to think of Sattva as a quality of mind that gives us the ability to tune into our body and listen to subtle cues; a state of mindful self-knowledge and spacious awareness. Sattva is something we can all cultivate in our daily lives to enhance our practice on the mat as well as deepen our experience of ourselves, our relationships, our work and life as a whole. When our mind is predominantly Sattvic, we feel at peace, focused, content, grateful, loving, loved, whole and balanced.
The feeling you get after you peel yourself up of your mat at the end of Savasana is a perfect example of Sattvic bliss in full action. It’s like nectar that every cell of your body and spirit wants to soak up and drink in.
How does Sattva relate to your yoga practice?
The practice of Yoga and meditation directly nourishes and increases Sattva in the mind and body. With greater clarity and balance in the mind (Sattva), there is more opportunity for mindful, fluid movement, resulting in a more nourishing authentic and sustainable practice for body, mind and spirit.
With yoga becoming more and more popular in the West, it is more important than ever to ensure that you are practicing with integrity and with awareness. We love yoga because it is a practice that actually develops Sattvic qualities within us. Breathing, moving and sitting on your mat are not the only ways to cultivate Sattva, however, as we can also cultivate these qualities in our everyday activities in life. As human beings, we are influenced by our environment, the food we eat, the media/literature we consume, the clothes we wear, the people we spend time with, the relationships we have, the work we do, the conversations we have and the air we breathe. All of these simple things make a big difference to our wellbeing as a whole.
Here are a few ways to add a little more Sattva to your daily life off the mat.
5 Tips for Cultivating more Sattva in your everyday life:
Commune with nature
At least once a day spend quality time outside in nature. Go for a walk in the park, watch the sunrise, swim in the ocean, walk on soft sand or simply step into a garden and take a moment to marvel at the beauty of a flower and breathe in the fresh oxygen that surrounds and emanates from trees and plants. Nature brings us into balance, grounds electromagnetic energy back into the earth and is a natural de-stressor. Less stress equals more Sattvic bliss.
Commune with Self
Take time each morning when you wake up and each evening before bed to connect with yourself. It can be something simple such as writing your thoughts and feelings in a journal or taking five slow, deep breaths with your eyes closed. Other ways you might enjoy connecting are through prayer, dance, singing, art, gardening, drawing or listening to music you love. Choose a medium that allows you to connect with yourself and one that nourishes your spirit.
Beautify your home
Your home is your temple. Turn your home into a place of beauty by devoting a little time each day to your home environment. Elements that can add beauty to your home include fresh flowers, soft warm lighting, indoor plants, soft colours and furnishings, candles, incense, fresh sunlight, fresh air, inspiring artwork, photos of loved ones, and gentle relaxing music.
Find your people
Choose to surround yourself with a community of like-minded people who inspire and uplift you. Seek out friends who are interested in the same things you are, who are living their life in balance, who are warm, kind, generous, honest and loving. Make an effort to connect with a community of people who are on the same path as you via yoga groups, meditation groups, art workshops, retreats and other areas of study and interest that light you up.
Eat wholesome wholefoods
Feed your body organic whole foods including fresh seasonal vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, fresh herbs, spices, healthy oils, greens and plenty of fresh filtered water daily. Avoid stimulating and processed foods such as coffee and chocolate as they can overstimulate the nervous system. Trust your intuition in the kitchen and make nourishing your body with food a sacred ritual. Lastly, create a relaxing environment to eat in by lighting a candle, playing some soft music and sitting while you eat so that your nervous system is relaxed and your body can focus on digestion. Love your food and your body!
The cultivation of Sattva through our actions on and off the mat, allows us to live in harmony with our true nature, thus creating a foundation of integrity, balance and health inside and out!
For more Ayurvedic tips from the author, see www.wholesomelovinggoodness.com