The term and concept of ojas comes from the Vedic traditions of India. Simply put, ojas is the essence of life. However, it cannot be fully understood without explaining where it comes from, why it is needed, and how we can increase it in our bodies and minds. Ojas is one of the 3 subtle forces that govern our bodies. The other 2 energies are Prana and Tejas, which will be explained in detail below. As with the subtle energies that govern our physical bodies, Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, their equivalent Prana, Tejas and Ojas govern both our physical and subtle bodies. Each one of us has these unseen forces that govern the way our bodies and minds work.
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What is Ojas in Ayurveda?
Ojas has different meanings according to different contexts in which the tern is used. In the physical body, ojas can be described as the sap that builds tissue, immunity, strength, and capacity to take on stressful situations without getting burned out. In the subtle world, it is contentment, mental stability, the container that holds up prana and tejas. And these are just some of the definitions of ojas.
If we were to put it in one statement, ojas is the essence of life that builds, nourishes, and sustains our bodies and mind.
The 3 Subtle Energies of Prana, Tejas and Ojas
As mentioned above, ojas is just one of three subtle energies that govern our physical and subtle bodies. The other two are prana and tejas.
Prana is correlated to Vata. It is the energy of air and movement in our bodies. Prana is the life force that we breathe in. It allows for the movement of life force throughout our bodies (both physical and subtle). It provides the motivation that moves through our mind as thought, and the movement of Vata dosha in our physical bodies.
Tejas is correlated to Pitta. It is the energy of fire that illuminates our digestion in the physical. Tejas is the light that allows us to discern what is truth and what is not. It is what resides at the base of the kunda as energy that is waiting to rise through our 7 chakras while burning away our illusion of time and desire. It ultimately illuminates us at the heightened level of moksha.
And now here is where ojas comes in. To be able to sustain prana and tejas, you want to have a very solid, stable, and healthy container to allow for prana and tejas to do their thing. Ojas is then the strength, capacity to endure, vital energy that is needed to sustain the other two energies. Physically, ojas stabilizes the immune system. Psychologically, it sustains our mind from stress, mental fatigue or discontentment.
There are various reasons and methods to increasing or sustaining all 3 subtle energies, but we are focused on ojas since without this, prana and tejas cannot be maintained.
How Do I Know if Ojas is Healthy?
There are a few ways you can find out if your ojas is healthy in both mind and body.
In the mind you will not feel fatigued. You will be able to analyze complex situations without becoming stressed out. You will be content. And you will have a stable nervous system. While the nervous system relates more to your prana energetics, having healthy ojas will be able to sustain your prana thus keeping you nerves more grounded.
In the body, you will have smooth speech patterns, you will have a soft demeanor towards others, and you will have radiant eyes (not red, burning, or “empty”). You will also have moderate reactions to physical situations without being overly reactive, or not reactive at all. In other words, you will be balanced.
How is Ojas Formed in the Body?
The process of building or forming ojas in the body is complex. The easiest way to understand it is through our digestive process. That is, both digestion of our food and our sensory impressions.
You can digest food really well, but if you are in a mental state that is not conducive to your health, digestion of food is then irrelevant. This is another reason why Ayurveda has guidelines of healthy eating that surround your digestion.
There are 7 tissues that are formed from the time our digested juices leave the liver. Ojas is formed after all the 7 tissues have had their share or the juices to build their tissues. Once every one of those tissues is built, the last tissue (shukra dhatu) then produces its own tissue and then the “leftovers” is the clear, pure essence, which is ojas.
If you understand the process above, you will see how necessary it is for us to give our bodies the best foods and sensory impressions. This is so the quality and quantity of our 7 tissues is primo and the ojas that is squeezed out in the end is extra primo too!
In Ayurveda, there are different schools of thought about when ojas is formed. Some say it is 7 days from the time of digestion to the tissues being fully built. But some other schools say 35 days, 5 days for each of the 7 dhatus (tissues). But regardless of how long it takes, we are sure that what we intake both mentally and physically has a great impact on the health of our tissues, and ultimately our immunity/sustainability – our ojas.
How to Increase Ojas in the Body?
There are many ways to increase ojas in our body and mind. As mentioned above, digestion is a HUGE factor in how much ojas is produced and sustained in our bodies. Other that taking in harmonious impressions through our other senses, food is the greatest source. Digesting our food is even greater.
Ayurveda and Yoga are two sides of the same coin. And while yogic practices can increase ojas such as asanas, yamas, niyamas, pratyahara and other breath and sensory work, Ayurveda stresses the importance of digestion in building ojas.
Related: Where Did Yoga Come From?
While properly ingesting and digesting food is important to provide the building blocks for ojas production, improper digestion leads us to toxins and potentially disease.
Food that Increase Ojas
To make sure you are eating the right foods according to your Ayurvedic blueprint, see an Ayurvedic Health Counselor who can put you on your own specific plan. However, if that is not possible for you, the foods below are great in building and sustaining ojas in your body and mind. Of course, eat everything in balance.
Incorporate milk, oils, grains, nuts, and root vegetables into your diet. Food such as:
- Milk (cow)
- Whole grains
- Mung dal
- Potatoes (including sweet potatoes)
- Lotus root
- Other root vegetables
- Coconut water (great for protecting ojas. It is also great for dehydration and after any electrolyte depleting sport)
To keep agni or your digestive fire nice and healthy to ultimately build ojas use these spices. Note: spices do not immediately build ojas, they are only the assistants to other ojas building foods mentioned above.
Foods with high natural ojas content includes milk, oils, grains and nuts. There are many rejuvenate herbs that increase ojas. Also, oil body therapies such as abhyanga and shirodhara increase ojas. So does meditation and the use of specific gemstones. The highest way to build ojas is through unconditional love
Daily Lifestyle Activities to Increase or Sustain Ojas
The basic marker for healthy ojas is self-love. If you are showing your body and mind some self-love (without being selfish 🙂 ), you will be able to increase and sustain ojas. Living a balanced lifestyle can help you achieve the sustainability and immunity of ojas that you desire. Here are some of the ways to increase your ojas. This is in order of how you’d need to incorporate your practices. Pick one of two to start with and slowly add in the rest. You can also read this article on how to start a Daily Ayurvedic Routine:
- Wake up at the same time every day. If you are not sure what time is good for you, plan to wake up at sunrise
- Incorporate tongue scraping first thing in the morning (along with brushing your teeth)
- Drink a glass of warm water ( this is to replenish the depletion that has happened overnight)
- Practice Abhyanga (self love of the body by applying and massaging oil)
- Practice 5-10 minutes of quiet meditation in the morning
- Take a walk or hike in nature. Absorb the magnificence of nature. This is a feast for your eyes and your psychological state
- Surround yourself with sattvic beings
- Proper management of sexual energy/ practice bharmacharya
- Become selfless
When you get into a healthy lifestyle routine, your body has time to focus on sustaining and maintaining itself. We are all trying to be, live, and eat healthy – but most of us fall short because we don’t have a plan. Ayurveda is great at providing a plan based on your Ayurvedic blueprint. You can eat, sleep, breath, and perform according to what is best for you. If you cannot or do not have the capacity to seek out an Ayurvedic Counselor, practice the lifestyle and food choices above, and you should start seeing a change both physically and mentally in the production of your ojas.
What foods and practices are you going to incorporate to increase your ojas?
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