Cultivating Ojas with Ayurveda
I first heard the term ojas in the 1990s while studying with Robert Svoboda, an amazing Ayurveda teacher and author. Ojas is built when we are spending time rejuvenating (the Ayurvedic term is known as (rasayana) rather than pushing ourselves and going, going, going, as many yogis do. “Rasa” means juice or essence, and “ayana” means path. As Robert calls it, rasayana is the “the path of juicing up”.
The honey is stored in the honeycomb, which in our body is like ojas, the pure essence of our dhatus, or bodily tissues. Ojas is considered to be generated from the original essence of para ojas in the heart, which then circulates via the heart and throughout the body for support.
Ojas is the super-fine essence of kapha dosha associated with lunar cycles; it is therefore connected to regeneration. The qualities of ojas and kapha dosha are similar: liquid, sweet, and unctuous. Together they provide great support for the immune system and the reserves of life force.
Ojas and Your Immune System
In the Ayurvedic tradition, ojas has everything to do with immunity. In fact, these concepts are so closely related that ojas is sometimes considered to be completely synonymous with immunity, meaning the exact same thing—health, vigor, vitality, and the body’s innate ability to fend off disease.
Because ojas is the superfine essence of kapha, it is related to the desirable qualities of kapha in the body, such as strength, nourishment, steadiness, protection, and regeneration. All of these attributes are what help to keep us healthy in times of stress or exposure to illness, so they are well worth cultivating!
Our bodies flourish with a rhythmic daily routine, high quality nutrition, and adequate sleep. They do even better when we commit to managing stress, engaging in healthy relationships, embracing joy, and living in alignment with our own authentic truth.
Life Imbalances that Decrease Ojas:
- Stress, whether from life events or self-created
- Dissonant thoughts and emotions—worry, anxiety, anger, jealousy, excessive pride
- Disconnection from the heart and the energy of love and compassion
- Shock and trauma, overexerting oneself, overdoing, exposure to extremes
- Lack of proper rest, late nights, and insomnia
- Excessive travel, multitasking, use of technology
- Dieting, improper nutrition, malnutrition
- Excessive sexual release
- Eating unwholesome foods, incompatible foods, processed and junk foods
- Smoking, excessive alcohol, addictions, recreational drugs
“We are tremendously full of effort. We try to get rid of anger, which is an effort, we try to get rid of fear, which is an effort. All efforts build stress and that stress diminishes ojas.”
Practices that Increase Ojas:
- Honoring solar and lunar rhythms in one’s practice
- Yoga and daily mantra, pranayama, mudra, and meditation
- Nourishing the heart with love, sukha (intrinsic happiness), and santosha (contentment) in your life
- Cultivating aesthetics, beauty, the arts, peaceful rhythm, and enjoyment of the art of living
- Steadily following nourishing rhythms of dinacharya (daily routine) and rtucharya (seasonal routine)
- Nutrition from organic, cooked, vegetarian food, not overly spiced
- Organic dairy or nut milks, ghee, fresh butter, small amounts of cream
- Fresh nuts, honey, dates
- Whole grains and rice
- Fresh, sweet fruits and vegetables
- Managing sexual energy in accordance with the seasons and one’s constitution
- Ayurvedic herbs and rasayanas—tonic drinks and jams like Chyavanprash
- Making rasayanas with the guidance of an Ayurvedic counselor, with herbs such as ashwagandha, brahmi/gotu kola, kumari (aloe), shankhapushpi, shatavari, shilajit, and licorice
Learning how to cultivate ojas in daily rituals will help you to stay healthy and joyous on your path, giving you that radiant glow of youthful vitality and keeping your immune system in tip-top shape. Ayurveda is the yoga of life—may all beings be happy, healthy, and juicy!