Ojas is one of the three vital essences aiding our overall health—and Sarah Lou is here to tell us all about it. Begin to thrive with this self love potion.
Many of us don’t realize just how e x h a u s t e d we are. We lead fast paced lifestyles where we have learned to derive our sense of self worth from our productiveness. We wait until we are very sick to admit ill health, and sometimes then, the repercussions are severe. It’s hard for us to admit; a little attention to self-care and prevention could have prevented disease.
Truthfully, not many Americans have daily rituals that contribute to feeling good and being healthy. Sometimes we can’t help getting rushed or distracted, but we can minimize the depleting effects with a solid self-love practice.
It goes without saying perhaps, but if you are depleted physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually, you are not going to be available for loving others. You might even be the dreaded emotional vampire, taking love and not returning it.
Ayurveda is an entire system of self-care, with wisdom specific to each person’s body-mind type. The topic of where to start may be daunting, since Ayurveda is a HUGE body of medicine. However, there is hope, and starting the process of tuning in and taking better care of yourself is easier than you think.
When I was trying to impart some basic Ayurvedic wisdom to my husband, who is not the best at self-care, I started with the concept of Ojas. Once he started to see how to focus on producing ojas—which is the essential life energy, the pure and subtle substance that’s extracted from food that has been completely digested—he began to take better care of himself. Once all of the body’s seven tissues (plasma, blood, muscle, fat, bone, bone marrow, and reproductive tissue) are nourished and digestion is balanced, ojas increases.
Ojas is one of the three vital essences that together promote and sustain our physical vitality, mental clarity, and overall health. The three vital essences—prana, tejas, and ojas—are the positive forms of vata, pitta, and kapha doshas, respectively. Whereas an increase in the doshas has the potential to create disease, an increase in the vital essences tends to support wellness. A lot of focus is put on negating the over-accumulation of any one Dosha, but not a lot of focus lies here, in increasing the vital essences.
I like this analogy from John Douillard:
“Perhaps the best way to describe ojas is to understand how honey is made. Ten to twenty thousand bees per hive collect the nectar or essence of thousands of flowers and concentrate them into honey – the ojas of the flowers. In the same way, when we eat fresh, unprocessed foods, microscopic amounts of their essence accumulate over time through the process of healthy digestion and become ojas. If the digestive process is disturbed, the essence of the foods will not be extracted and no ojas will be made.”
Here are some basics to understanding this vital essence and how to increase your own Ojas.
Signs of Healthy Ojas:
- You feel relaxed upon awakening
- You feel centered throughout the day
- You have strong digestion, without bloating
- Your skin has a healthy glow
- Your tongue is free of coatings, is pink and clear
- You feel enthusiastic and energized
- You have a healthy immune system
- You have little body odor
- Your mind is clear and focused
Signs of Depleted Ojas:
- Bad breath
- Coating on the tongue (this is called Ama)
- You have a dull appetite
- Your digestion is delicate or weak
- You have sluggish or irritable elimination
- Generalized pain in the body
- You have weak immunity
- Depression, anxiety, fatigue
- Emotionally drained
- Lack of vigor in personal pursuits of happiness
Ways to Increase Ojas:
Spend ample time in Nature:
The rhythms of nature are within us, whether we realize it or not. Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Either are always dancing around in our environments and the act of spending time in Nature offers our bodies the opportunity to harmonize the inner with the outer.
Walking in Nature is an activity that not only levels excesses in the Doshas, but builds the Ojas vital essence. For Vata types, slow walks in nature bring focus and calm, dissipating any nervous energy. For Pitta types, moderately paced walks without distraction offers a soothing break from their driven daily grind. For Kapha types, a slightly brisk walk will bring blood flow and a rush of energy, breaking up congestion and lethargy.
Heart Centered Communication:
One way we communicate with ourselves is through our yoga practice. If you don’t have one, consider establishing one with these tips in mind for optimal Ojas building. Yoga is an incredible tool for healing, if practiced mindfully. Not all constitutions benefit from yoga similarly, each person’s needs are unique. (read more about Yoga for your Type HERE)
Favor yoga that is close to the earth and water elements to build vital essence inside your body and mind. Slower practices with mindfully led pranayama, Yin or Restorative yoga for example. Yoga Nidra is an excellent builder of Ojas.
Offer yourself innocently and graciously to conversation. Intimacy is a wonderful way to build Ojas, when reciprocated. Allow openhearted communication to be your primary means of expression. Physically sense into your heart space before opening your mouth to speak. Feel gratitude for the gift of connection.
When you begin to feel peacefulness and contentedness when in the presence of opposing viewpoints or opinions, then you know Ojas is flowing.
Meal planning, nutrition and mealtime routines:
Making your digestion your top priority will give your body the support it needs to glean all the possible nutrients (and Ojas) from each meal. This means making the times you eat consciously so that your Agni fire is brightest at your biggest meal—midday.
Giving yourself distraction, stress, chaos and anarchy FREE mealtimes. While this may be a feat of defying physics if you have children, there are many ways to create soothing, mealtime sanctuaries, which will have a positive effect on the whole family. Turn off phones, TVs, lower the lights, turn on soothing music, light a candle, and prewash some dishes as you go, so you aren’t stressed about jumping up and cleaning right after you lie down your fork.
Chew your food. Don’t drink ice water. (Pretty much ever.) Don’t eat if you’re upset. Don’t eat unless you’re hungry. Sit down to eat, not in the car.
Prioritize freshly prepared meals, where you can infuse your food with gratitude. Eat less, mostly plants.
Food as Medicine for Ojas Building:
From the Chopra Website:
To promote the creation and flow of ojas, we need a good diet focused on pure foods, referred to as “sattvic” in ayurveda. The body can easily digest sattvic food and extract its ojas. The most sattvic foods include organic milk, almonds, sesame, honey, rice, and fruits. It’s not necessary to eat these foods exclusively — just focus on having them on a regular basis.
Some foods are difficult if not impossible for the body to convert into ojas, including meat, poultry, fish, oily foods, cheese, leftovers, processed food, and items with an excess of sour or salty tastes. Food that has been canned, frozen, or reheated won’t produce as much ojas as freshly prepared meals. In addition, consuming alcohol and smoking cigarettes destroys ojas.
My husband travels for work, and creating healthy eating habits on the road is extremely difficult. There aren’t many sattvic foods in the airport, for example. Even if you aren’t traveling, eating on the go can be a challenge for most of us. The simple act of planning ahead can be very valuable. Packing a lunch can be a mindful meditation in the morning. Include those Ojas building foods mentioned above, like a bag of almonds and some ripe seasonal fruit, or try these recipes.
Ojas Balls – by Nicole Perriella, Ayurveda Wellness Counselor
Nicole made a great video illustrating how to make these little treats which you can view HERE. These are easy to make and great for brown baggers!
- 1 cup almond butter
- 1 cup coconut flakes
- 1/3 cup chia seeds
- 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/3 cup goji berries
- 1/2 tsp Maca powder for each ball
1. Mix the coconut flakes, chia seeds, sunflower seeds and goji berries in a large mixing bowl.
2. Add 1 tbs almond butter in one spot within the mixing bowl.
3. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp maca powder over the almond butter.
4. Cover the almond butter/maca with other ingredients.
5. Scoop the ball into your hand and gently start to press and squeeze the ingredients into a round, ball shape.
6. Continue adding the dry ingredients to the wet ball mixture until it stays together independently.
7. Store Ojas Balls in the refrigerator for up to one week.
Ojas Date Shake – by Aparna Khanolkar, Ayurvedic Goddess
Aparna has many incredible recipes on her website HERE.
- 5 dates pitted and stems removed
- 1 1/2 cups almond milk
- 1/2 banana
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg powder
Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend till smooth.
Good luck and happy Ojas building![image: via pixabay.com]