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The 20 Qualities or Gunas


Ayurveda has 20 gunas which are divided into 10 pairs of opposing qualities. The gunas are a language used to describe everything in existence and give us a system to understand the range of qualities within our bodies, our minds, our environment, our food and our activities. Crucially, the gunas give an infinite range of possibilities within each of the pairs, which can be used as a guide to indicate which quality needs to shift and in which direction in order to find your unique point of balance between the two extremes. The gunas help us see that being in balance is not a fixed point, but more of an on-going conversation.


Read the list below and think about which gunas describe a lemon? Which qualities describe the weather today? Which gunas describe your digestive tract or reflect your state of mind? With practice, the gunas become a non judgemental guide and tool with which to build self awareness and plan your responses.

  • Heavy v's Light

  • Hot v's Cold

  • Smooth v's Rough

  • Soft v's Hard  

  • Subtle v's Gross

  • Dull v's Sharp

  • Clear v's Cloudy

  • Oily v's Dry

  • Solid v's Liquid

  • Stable v's Mobile

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