What is ojas?
Ojas is the glue that cements the elements together to create a stable body and mind. It is related to vitality and immunity – it is protective in its nature. It circulates via the heart and throughout the body to maintain the natural resistance of bodily tissues. For this reason it is also known as bala (strength).
Ojas is a stabilizing container for prana (body, mind, emotions) – it is the buffer against stress. Ojas production is related to the proper functioning of the endocrine, nervous, skeletal, muscular, hematopoietic, and digestive systems- it is connected to everything!
Functions of Ojas:
- Ojas is the container for and protector of prana (the vital life force)
- Maintain the quality and quantity of the tissues, wastes, and doshas (organizing energies)
- Immunity: protects the body by buffering the negative effects of stress
- Strength, stability, stamina, and endurance
- High tolerance
- Strong memory
- Resilience – the ability to “bounce back”
- Containership – holding our own
According to Dr. David Frawley:
“Of the three vital essences, the most important is Ojas. Ojas not only gives a strong reserve of vital energy, it also provides strength and maturity of character and emotional stability. Ojas creates the vessel necessary to hold prana and tejas, which would otherwise disperse. Without ojas, exercises in meditation and yoga lack the proper foundation.”
What depletes ojas?
The main things that use up our ojas include:
- Lack of nourishment
- Improper diet
- Improper lifestyle
- Excess on any level
- Emotions (anger, grief, worry)
- Burning the candle at both ends
- Hunger & thirst (fasting, poverty)
- *Relationships (*can build or deplete – depends)
How to build ojas:
Ayurveda begins by maintaining and/or building ojas using the three pillars of health, which are nourishment (ahara), sleep (nidra), and management of our vitality (brahmacharya).
a) Ojas Building Diet:
- Fresh, local, seasonal
- Ghee, milk (organic)
- Sweet potatoes
- Sweet fruits (berries, dates, grapes, raisins)
- Bone broth & meat (organic)
If you cannot digest it, it is not medicine!!!
b) Ojas Building Lifestyle:
- Reduce stress/vata
- Daily routine
- Media fasting (pratyahara)
- Abhyanga (daily oil massage)
- Nature – gazing, walks
- Mindful eating
- Good work (dharma, service, good deeds)
- Good company
- Work with your emotions
- Cultivate joy
- Seek out beauty
- Sweet words
Consider the Medicine of subtraction…
do less – less is more ojas!
c) Ojas Building Yoga
- Asana – restorative, gentle, yin, YT
- Pranayama – alternate nostril breathing, brahmari, mindful breathing
- Dhyana – yoga nidra, metta
- Mantra – OM, so ham, asato ma sad gamaya
- Patanjali’s Ashtanga (yama, niyama, etc)
- Bhakti Yoga
Building ojas is very important for yogis because we spend so much of yoga working with our prana – without ojas, there’s no container to stabilize the prana. Hopefully this has given you a sense of what you are already doing that builds your resilience, and perhaps there are a few new things you can add to the list.
Enjoy the practice!