It is Ojas which keeps all living beings nourished and refreshed. There can be no life without Ojas… —Charaka Samhita.
The Sanskrit word ojas can be translated to vigor, bodily strength, vitality and water. It is the essential energy of the body, “the fluid of life”, one of the three vital essences (prana, tejas, and ojas), and truly the sweet, vital nectar of immunity, vitality and health. Like honey that is collected from flowers, ojas is collected in the body from our actions, conditions/tendencies, habitual routines, self-care practices and nutritional choices.
We all have ojas, as ojas is simply the first thing to be created in the body of all living beings. Ojas can easily be defined as the ultimate product of proper nutrition, digestion, and metabolism. Ama (toxic residue, undigested food, thoughts, and emotions) as we discussed in my August Newsletter (join my community here), is the opposite of proper nutrition, digestion, and metabolism.
Overexertion, improper diet, lack of routine, excessive emotional reactions (i.e., anger, grief, worry, anxiety, fear) can readily decrease our ojas. Ojas is quick to get used up when we engage any of the five senses (touch, sight, taste, smell, and hearing), and especially when we do not—in return—tend to the replenishment of those senses. Deficiency in ojas can cause weakness, fatigue, exhaustion and eventually disease.
The aim of Ayurveda is to rejuvenate and preserve the health of the healthy as well as alleviate the disease of the sick. Swasthasya swasthya rakshanam, to prolong life and promote perfect health (add years to life and life to years) and Aturasya vikara prashamanam cha, to completely eradicate the disease and dysfunction of the body, are concepts that even the WHO (World Health Organization) gives importance to. As they are now beginning to acknowledge and give as much importance to maintenance of health vs. treatment alone.
The ancient wisdom of Ayurveda has always taught us that Prakriti (health) of the physical body requires health of dosha (mind-body constitution), dhatu (tissues) and mala (wastes). And further the health of the subtle body, refers to sattva (purity and light), rajas (movement and change) and tamas (darkness and inertia). Sattva, rajas and tamas better known as the Maha Gunas, or the qualities of the mind. Balance of ALL—physical and subtle—is Prakriti.
Therefore it is imperative that we understand one of the many functions of ojas. Ojas, vital essence of water, is responsible for the maintenance of quantity and quality of the doshas, dhatus, and malas. Ojas may be centered in the heart, but exists throughout every part of the body, protecting the health of every cell. Ojas governs immunity, health, strength, vitality and longevity.
Here are some various signs of abundant ojas:
- Clear, radiant eyes
- Glowing skin
- Healthy immune system
- Resilience to stress
- Positive outlook on life, experiences and exudes joy easily
- Mental clarity
- Limitless energy and vigor
- Pain-free, healthy and strong body
- Overall nourishment in all aspects of one’s life
Here are some various signs of weakened or depleted ojas:
- Dry skin
- Cold hands and or feet
- Mental fogginess
- Lack of connection
- Weakened immunity
Simply stated, the more we live in harmony with ourselves and nature, the more ojas shines through our eyes, skin and subtle energy fields. Through proper lifestyle, self-care and nutritional practices, we can maintain and build ojas.
In efforts to help you build the sacred secret to your health, here are some useful, at-home tips to support ojas in your daily life:
- Commit to daily routine—recalibrate your circadian rhythm
- Commit to a daily spiritual practice—meditation, yoga, pranayama, etc.
- Spend more time in nature—watch the sunrise, or the sunset, take a brisk walk and breathe in the fresh, brisk air.
- Engage in regular self-care practices—take a bath, soak your feet, get a bodywork (Thai Yoga) session, utilize self-massage and/or self-myofascial release techniques.
- Honor your needs for introspection/alone time—as independence can be a very healthy attribute.
- Nourish with foods that promote ojas—avocados, bananas, dates, figs, sweet potatoes, yams, turnips, leafy greens, zucchini, nuts (especially almonds), mung beans and whole grains, etc.
- Include herbs that support ojas—ashwagandha, shatavari, chyavanprash, oatstraw and triphala.