Thursday, September 27, 2007


Sattwa - Samkhya: accounts for thought and intelligibility, experienced psychologically as pleasure, thinking, clarity, understanding and detachment. Classical Yoga: - when sattwa (purity, illumination through comprehension) predominates, consciousness manifests itself as prakhya - vivacity, illumination, mental clarity and serenity.

Rajas - accounts for motion, energy and activity. Experienced psychologically as suffering, craving and attachment. Classical Yoga: - when rajas (energy) predominates, consciousness is pravritti - active and energetic, tense and willful.

Tamas - accounts for restraint and inertia. Experienced psychologically as delusion, depression and dullness. Classical Yoga: - when tamas (obscurity, heaviness) predominates, consciousness is sthiti - inert, punged into a state of repose and torpor

On Monday night, I turned on the TV and watched my actor friend Tahmus do a brief turn on CSI Miami.

He was perfect as a ne'er-do-well foster parent who crawled out of a boat. His comb-over was what made it believable.

But watching the show made me feel dirty, and I wanted to take a bath.

Instead I stayed in front of the TV.

Tahmus wasn't keeping me there. Nope, it was tamas

On Tuesday I'd planned to go a morning Mysore class.

I ended up practicing at home.

I had afternoon plans to meet a friend and discuss our Big Literary Projects.

She cancelled, and I was grateful. But instead of using that time to write I took a nap. Tamas again.

In the evening I'd planned to go to bhangra dance class.

But I felt so overwhelmed by everything I need to do this week.

Not to mention introverted.

"That dance class so rajastic," I rationalized. "And I want to be sattvic."

So I stayed home and paid the bills and did the recycling and cleared off all the junk on the dining room table.

When I tried to file away the receipts, I could not. The file cabinet was full.

"That's so tamastic," I thought. Then I realized that most of my drawers, closets, etc. are full-up due to intertia. "I'm effing tamastic," I realized with growing horror. "I'm like Arjuna when he doesn't want to fight, before Krishna explains Life and tells him to stop being a coward"

Everything suddenly started making sense: how I don't like to move or change jobs or get rid of anything (including old hurts).

So I decided to get sattvic, and started getting rid of stuff: towels, old files, shirts, gift soap, sweaters, magazines.

I got rid of Tupperware, bowls, books, DVD's, candles, jewelry, more files (including a 1996 tax return).

I got rid of tanning goggles and dead cell phones and yoga tops and bike lights that no longer work.

I got rid of so much stuff my throat hurt.

On Wednesday I slept in (it's not tamas if it's a moon day). After sitting and breakfast, I started laundry, went to the post office, chased down a bunch of boxes, and had the Kaveri picture framed.

Then I brought all of that stuff to The Ark.

It took two trips.

But so much more remains to be done.

Yet here I sit eating corn chips and reading blogs.

Back to tamas again.


*Speaking of tamas... after nine. long. years I finally gave up the losing battle that was my Friday morning yoga class at the Chicago Yoga Center. I'm now teaching the same challenging-but-playful class -- Dharma Mittra Level II+ -- Fridays from 10-11:30 at Silverspace, a loft with natural light and vintage hardwood floors at 1474 N. Milwaukee Ave. The class is a lot of fun and suitable for anyone with an ongoing practice - including ashtangis open to a different kind of challenge.


  1. Anonymous12:51 AM

    Have you posted your complete teaching schedule anywhere? I can't find one.

    Also, can you recommend any online or print resources about attaining a more "sattvic" diet?

  2. 1. Send me your e-mail and I'll send you the link to my schedule.

    2. Ashtanga guru Pattabhi Jois says this about diet:
    > The Yogic (Sattvic) Diet:
    > “For the practitioner of yoga, the rules regarding
    > food, sex, and speech are very important. Among the
    > foods, those called saattvika (pure) are the best…
    > Indeed, foods that extend the life span; foods that
    > increase sattvic qualities, as well as strength,
    > health, happiness, and love; foods that are easily
    > digested; and foods that are natural, genuine, and
    > follow the seasons – these are the most suitable, as
    > they are worthy of being offered to God… If a
    > person’s
    > food is pure, then his mind becomes pure, since the
    > mind assumes the qualities of whatever food is
    > consumed… The practitioner of yoga should therefore
    > eat only food possessed of sattvic qualities. Foods
    > that give rise to passions and mental darkness, or
    > that are fleshy and fattening, should never be
    > consumed, and intoxicating substances, smoking and
    > the
    > like should also be relinquished… Only half the
    > stomach should be taken up by the food that is
    > eaten.
    > One [half] of the other half should be given over to
    > water and the remaining quarter left to the movement
    > of air. Consuming too much food or no food at all…
    > should be given up as much as possible, as [it is]
    > an
    > obstacle to the practice of yoga… Moderation… is
    > thus
    > important to follow (Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, Yoga Mala
    > p. 24 - 25, 2002).”
    > The Sivananda Yoga organization's website says
    > something similar; the key is moderation. Go here