Building Ojas for Better Health

Image by Heather Barnes

Image by Heather Barnes

From the heart as root, ten great vessels carrying Ojas pulsate all over the body. The Ojas, which maintains the living beings by its saturation; without which no life of creatures exists ...
— Caraka Samhita Ch 30 : V 8-9

If you have known me know any amount of time, have sat in a yoga or Ayurveda class with me, or have spoken with me at any length about Ayurveda, there is a good chance that I have expressed my love for ojas at one time or another.

I love ojas.

Not just for its critical role in our lives, but for the energetics of this incredibly important ‘vital essence’.

Mythical & Esoteric Beginnings

Ojas is the subtle vital essence of Kapha Dosha. It is the sweetness of life, the juiciness of our bodies, and the sustainenence of our existence. When the god of Ayurveda, Dhanvantari, was churned from the milky ocean (along with goddess Lakshmi) carrying a jar of Amrit (ojas) that promised immortality for the gods.

It is also said that when tejas (the essence of pitta & represents kundalini) unifies with ojas (amrit, the nectar of life) it ascends in the alchemical manifestation of the purest prana (essence of vata) that awakens our higher intelligence (buddhi).

This is all part of the tapestry of the beauty of our subtle vital essences. Ojas resides within each of us, the majority of it in our guts. Then, there is a sacred 8 drops that resides in the heart space and maintains the pulsation that keeps us alive.

The roles of Ojas

To better understand Ojas in the body and its influence on your health check out some of these key roles:

  • Rejuvenator: After illness or long periods of stress/trauma ojas can become very depleted. By increasing ojas in the body the body can begin to heal and return back to balance

  • Gut Health: Ojas works closely with agni, your digestive fire. When we do not digest and assimilate our food properly we do not produce healthy ojas. This in turn leads to depleted tissues and affects the entire body

  • Immune System: Ojas is the source of the strength and resiliency of the body to be able to fight off pathogens

  • Vitality & Longevity: those who cultivate a healthy amount of ojas throughout their lives increase their daily vitality and a longer healthier life

  • Reproduction: Ojas is semen and vaginal fluid and creates the perfect conditions for new life

You know your ojas is lit when you are glowing (this is why pregnant women ‘glow’ so much, extra ojas circulating!), your muscles feel strong and robust, you have great energy levels and feel rested, you have sharp sense organs (especially taste & smell), your immune system is strong, your body is free of aches and pains, and you feel over all vital and vibrant. Sounds amazing, right?!

Sadly many modern folks are walking around depleted in ojas- I was one of them myself for many years! Imagine that ojas is your sacred fuel that helps you live a life of quality. This fuel gets used up as we go about our day, eating, digesting, engaging in conversation, working. You replenish each day by taking care of yourself (more on that below) and feel renewed each day. If your life is stressful, you work long hours, are lacking in proper nutrition and self care, then this ojas reserve gets used up without a refill. Depleted ojas leads to chronic fatigue syndrome, dehydration, palpitations and spasms, muscle wasting, fear, nervousness, and mental fatigue and confusion.

Building your Ojas Reserves

So now imagine that your lower abdomen is a basin that collects and holds this sacred fuel that your inner fire burns from. This reserve gets used throughout the day but it should never get to ‘E’. Each day we can support the rebuilding of our ojas through easy practices so that there is always a healthy amount of fuel to be used day in and day out. If you feel like you have been living with depleted ojas (from the symptoms list above) then it will take more consistent practice over a longer period time to rebuild. If you feel that your life is generally lustrous and sweet and feels high quality then take on a few practices a day to shore up your system.

  • Eat Well: of course nourishment is key! Eating a fresh and wholesome diet, preferably to your dosha type if you know it, will replenish ojas and stoke agni (remember they go hand-in-hand). Ayurveda encourages the use of Ojas rich foods like dates, honey, ghee, figs and almonds for high quality ojas.

  • Rejuvenative Herbs: in Ayurveda the use of Amalaki, Ashwagandha, Licorice, & Guduchi is recommended for healing and then sustaining of ojas. The Ayurvedic tonic jam of Chyavanprash is a tasty option that can be taken daily.

  • Pratyahara: from the 8 limbs of yoga we learn that pratyahara is the practice of quieting the senses. This can be done in meditation or by purposefully closing off the senses for periods of time. To do it on the daily try lying in savasana with an eye pillow, the ears covered, and drawing the senses inward is an easy way to begin working pratyahara at home. Another way to experience this is in a float tank, which could be a part of your monthly self care plan.

  • Brahmacharya: this is to abstain from sex and the loss of sexual fluids. This can be done short term to give ojas time to regenerate or long term as a choice to practice sacred celibacy.

  • Bhakti Yoga: the act of devotion. Honoring each person as an expression of the divine. Saying ‘yes’ to life instead of closing yourself off with ‘no’. (please remember that saying ‘no’ to someone is saying ‘yes’ to you, these are dynamic energies) Bhakti yoga traditionally uses kirtan and music as part of its practice. I like to include mindful movement to primal drum beats that stimulates my root and sacral chakras as well (the basin). Take time each day to express love for your human form, connect with your Spirit self and any higher powers you believe in, and lean into a deep sense of love for all that is.

  • Panchkarma: not a daily practice but I feel it is definitely worth mentioning this deeply rejuvenative cleanse that entails the Five (pancha) Actions (Karma). This cleanse is done under the supervision of an Ayurvedic practitioner and lasts anywhere from 1-4 weeks as it brings the body back to the harmonized state it was in at birth. Panchakarma heals many levels of the body and ojas is one of them. If you feel as though your depletion is rather progressed or it has been going on for a long period of time this could be a good option for you.

This all just scrapes the surface of ojas but I hope that you can see why I have such a love for this vital essence. This sweetness of life, it truly is one of the foundations of our wellbeing and the source of a high quality existence.

Wishing you robust ojas and glowing health!