All About Ojas: How to Build Your Sustainable Energy
What Is Ojas?
Ojas (OH-JUS) is one of the three subtle forces in our body. Think of ojas as the container that holds your abundant energy. It is the ultimate energy reserve of the body and mind. It is the purest essence of kapha, and physically, it is related to reproductive, hormonal, and cerebrospinal fluids.
I love the metaphor of ojas as the body’s natural honey: it is the delicate and refined essence we produce from the plants and other vital essences we take in. Ojas is the force that enables us to sustain change over time. Think of it as your psychophysical container or shield.
The more ojas we have, the more impervious we are to the negativity of others, as our own spirit has a good, strong container. Ojas gives us an overall sense of satisfaction with life. As you might suspect, our modern Western culture is chronically low in ojas.
Ojas and Immunity
In the Ayurvedic tradition, ojas has everything to do with immunity. Robust ojas acts as a soft shielding, helping us ward off stress and disease brought on by physical pathogens as well as psychic pathogens (emotional vampires be gone!).
As a society, we often don’t value ojas highly enough. Being the ultrafine, subtle essence that it is, ojas is affected by almost every aspect of our lives, and can become diminished and dried up when we are overly effortful, stressed, or contracted. On the other hand, when tended to mindfully, our ojas becomes a reserve of robust vitality and the key to a healthy immune system.
According to Ayurveda, ojas and immunity are intricately linked to the concept of rejuvenation, or rasayana. In our stressed-out, overly busy modern world, we often don’t give ourselves ample time for rest, nourishment, and self-care. The practice of rejuvenation is all about slowing the aging process, boosting our immunity, and bringing our body, mind, and spirit back into a state of harmonious balance.
Ojas and Pregnancy
Ayurveda has a long tradition of supporting and promoting pregnancy, and the cultivation of ojas becomes especially important if we are trying to conceive a child. Often, an Ayurvedic practitioner will recommend beginning to build healthy ojas many months before trying to conceive, and ojas continues to play an important role throughout the pregnancy itself, as well as during the post-partum journey of stepping fully into parenthood.
Ojas is the life-giving sap that nourishes all of the tissues of the body. According to Ayurveda, the health of our reproductive organs and fluids depend entirely on the health of the other tissues, and on our healthy reserve of ojas itself. So whether we are seeking to support fertility or ensure a healthy journey through pregnancy, birth, and beyond, the idea of ojas is absolutely essential.
How to Build Ojas
For all of these reasons and more, ojas is the most important element for most of us to cultivate. This is especially true if we are trying to conceive a child, deal with a stressful life event, or overcome an illness. So what are some ways that we can build ojas?
Ojas and Diet
When it comes to what to eat to build strong ojas, the most important thing is to choose foods that are fresh, organic, seasonally available, and appropriate to your dosha. Here are a few recipes ideas that are especially nourishing and ojas-building:
- Nourishing Curried Lentil Soup
- Basic Kitchari
- 4 Ashwagandha Recipes for the Adrenals
- Women’s Vitality Latte
One of the easiest and most delicious ways to support ojas is by adding Chyavanprash to your diet. Our Chyavanprash is based on a traditional Ayurvedic formula that has been used for millennia to strengthen and rejuvenate the body, support proper function of the immune system, and provide the essential building blocks of ojas!
Practices to Build Ojas
There are many simple ojas-building practices that you can begin to work into your daily routine. Along with the ones listed here, think about the things in your life that create a sense of comfort, ease, and bliss—things like getting out into nature, listening to relaxing music, or spending time with loved ones.
- Abhyanga. This is the ancient Ayurvedic practice of self-massage with oil. When looking to build ojas, this luxurious herbal oil massage is recommended on a daily basis. But even performing abhyanga a few times a week will work wonders to nourish the tissues, calm the nervous system, support the health of the lymph, and promote a sense of overall comfort and well-being.
- Pratyahara. Increasing our level of ojas is not just a matter of building it up. It is also about not losing or wasting it. When you are overstimulated, for example, if you spend hours on the internet, drinking coffee, and texting friends, you lose energy through the five senses in ways you aren’t even aware of. This leaves us feeling depleted and can bring on depressive or anxious sensations.
The next time you feel depleted, think of drawing the mind inward instead of reaching outward for comfort. I like to lie down and practice feeling the sensations in my body, turning my focus inward and letting any stagnant emotions rise to the surface.
How to Feel a Connection to Your Ojas
This exercise will help you feel the strength of your energy reserve.
- Find a comfortable position and close your eyes.
- Take a few deep breaths. Relax for a minute, allowing your breath to deepen and smooth out.
- Now slowly start to draw your attention away from your thoughts, emotions or aches, and drop it down into your belly, holding it there until you feel sensation. Then, slowly, bring your awareness into your heart.
- Remember a moment in your life when you felt very deep love. Perhaps it was the birth of your child, a merging into the arms of your lover, being hugged by a parent, or the bliss you experience when you help someone in need. Maybe it was a time when you let yourself be totally vulnerable. When you add love to your point of focus, it builds your ojas.
- Bring that moment fully to mind and notice where you feel the sensation of love in your body. Allow this sensation to move, to expand and permeate every cell of your being. When you grow the feeling of love inside your body, you boost the power that enables you to remain strong and wise in the face of heartache, disease and change.
- Relax into this loving container, watching how, over and over again, you will gain and lose the feeling, and how you can refocus and experience your inherent enduring, sustaining power.