Bring on the OJAS!
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 in Ayurveda is put on negating the over-accumulation of any one Dosha, but not a lot of focus lies here, in increasing the vital essences.
During this transition into Autumn, the dry season, Vata Dosha tends to ramp up in our environment. This causes air and space elements to also increase within us. This can be easily handled with a focus on increasing the positive essence of Kapha Dosha to balance out. Ojas to the rescue!
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 everyone can increase Ojas…
- 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 Nautre offers our bodies the opportunity to harmonize the inner with the outer.
- Walking in Nautre 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.
While Autumn is displaying it’s radiant colors, remember that these displays mark nature’s end of cycle, a bedding down phase. Allow yourself the same respects, and take time to slow down and soothe the body and mind with self care rituals this time of year. It will set you up for healthy immunity, metabolism, and energy stores for the winter season to come!
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