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Nurturing Your Mind, Body, and Spirit on the Path of Yoga and Self-Discovery
Ojas - The sap of life, vigor, vitality, radiant health & luster
What is Ojas?
According to Ayurveda, Ojas is the subtle essence that is responsible for life, radiant health, strong immunity, vigor, longevity and the overall well-being of an individual. The subtle essence, called Ojas, that is extracted from the proper digestion and efficient metabolism of food, nourishes the bodily tissues of blood, plasma and lymph, muscle, fat, bones, bone marrow, semen and as well as itself. Ojas also forms the basic material of the five sense organs, ligaments and lubricating fluids. Improper digestion leads to production of ama or toxins in the body. The accumulation of ama/toxins in the bodily tissues is what leads to disease.
The heart is the seat of the Ojas. From the heart, 10 blood vessels referred to as mahaphala carry Ojas to the rest of the body. Ojas is affected by not only the food we take in and its healthy digestion, but also by the sensory impressions we take in. Hence it is important to protect the physical and emotional health of the heart.
Ojas is described to have the color of ghee, the taste of honey, the smell of fried paddy/rice grain.
Signs of Healthy Ojas:
A person with healthy Ojas possesses:
Signs of Weakened Ojas:
What weakens Ojas?
Ojas is diminished by under eating, overeating, eating when previous food has not yet been digested, consumption of poor quality food that results in the blocking of the channels, consumption of stale foods, canned foods, fermented foods like cheese, meat, irregular diet, excessive exercise, fasting, negative emotional stressors such as anxiety, anger, sadness, grief, hatred, jealousy, long held resentment, fear, grief, consumption of alcohol, smoking, lack of sleep, excessive discharge of mucus, blood, semen and other excreta, with age and injury by other organisms, undue exposure to wind and sun, excessive sexual activity.
What promotes or revitalizes Ojas?
Consumption of foods that share the same properties of Ojas help increase Ojas. Ojas has the 10 properties of sweet, cold, soft, unctuous, smooth, viscous, slimy, heavy, dull and clear. Hence a balanced sattvic diet of fresh foods, cow’s milk, ghee, fruits, rice, sweet foods like dates, natural seeds and nuts like almonds (soaked overnight and skin removed before eating on empty stomach), healthy eating habits, moderation in exercise and diet, and consumption of rasayans (like Chyawanprash) help promote or revitalize Ojas. Bathing and the use of gemstones also help revitalize Ojas. However, Ojas can never be built until one preserves the veerya.
How can one protect Ojas?
Since Ojas is the result of the quality of food we eat, its proper digestion and efficient metabolism. Awareness of the sensory impressions we imbibe in our daily life is also important. In order to protect Ojas it is vital to protect not only the body, but the mind and heart as well from emotional strain and stress and to adopt a healthy balanced diet.
For depleted Ojas:
Soak 10 almonds in water overnight.
Peel off the skins and blend in blender.
Add a cup of hot milk*.
Add a pinch of cardamom, soma formula if you have it, a pinch of ginger powder and 1 tsp of ghee, saffron (optional)
Instead of date sugar one can use turbinado or succanuts. Honey is also nice!
This almond milk is great for building ojas. Persons suffering from high cholesterol can skip the ghee, however oils like ghee act as the vehicle for the herbal medicines. The body needs oils!
*Can substitute with soy or rice milk.
Tejas - The Spark of Radiance, Warmth, Glow and Brilliance
What is Tejas?
Tejas is responsible for inner radiance, glow or aura, luster in one’s eyes, clarity, fearlessness, courage, intelligence, and understanding and comprehension at the cellular level. It is the subtle and positive essence or counterpart of pitta or fire element in the body and is responsible for the digestion and metabolism of everything we take in. Tejas can be compared to hormones and amino acids that regulate cellular metabolism.
Hence Tejas is needed for metabolism. If Tejas in a person is too high it burns out the Ojas (just as fire evaporates water), as in the case with multiple sclerosis. The myelin sheaths of the body, which are composed of Ojas (water element), are burned by high Tejas (fire element).
Negative thinking damages Ojas, Tejas, Prana, the immune system, the spleen, and the function of the lymphatic system. The thymus gland is located very close to the heart, which is the seat of emotions. Hence any negative emotional disturbance will affect the thymus. Gently tapping the sternum stimulates the thymus gland, which in turn stimulates the immune system.
Tejas gets diminished by:
For a healthy balance of Tejas one should:
For a depleted Tejas one should consume:
NOTE: People who suffer from excessive pitta or heat in the body should not consume the above. Excessive pitta is marked by heat in the body, loose stools, inflammation, boils, acne, ulcers, heartburn, indigestion, and negative emotions like anger, jealousy, anxiety, aggression, impatience, hate etc. Instead one should avoid consuming foods that are inherently and temperature hot as they further aggravate pitta. Hence avoid spicy, pungent foods, peppers, garlic, onions, sesame, coffee, tea etc. Consuming foods and herbs that are cooling and sweet (not sugary, but inherently sweet like rice, wheat etc), will help bring pitta back to a healthy balance. Chewing on fennel seeds, cardamoms, etc sipping warm herbal teas helps calm pitta. If you are constipated and yet experience the above conditions, consider simply choosing one of the three above options instead of all three.
Prana - The Quanta of Our Vitality and Energy
What is Prana?
Prana is the vital life force or life breath and is the subtle essence of Vata or air element. It is responsible for life in an individual. It is responsible for vitality and energy and the processes of respiration, circulation, digestion, excretion etc. Therefore Prana can be understood as the life energy, which gives life to the bodyand keeps it healthy and alive.
“Prana is that life energy which nourishes the whole body so that it could, together with its different organs, function properly and normally. Without energy the body would die.” Master Choa Kok Sui
The Anahata (Heart) Chakra is described as a divine lotus with 12 petals that have Sanskrit letters. Prana lives in the heart along with past desires and egoism. The different modifications of this Prana results in ten principle types of Pranas.
Prana - located in the heart chakra and responsible for respiratory and circulatory functions
Apana - located in the root chakra and is responsible for elimination
Samana - located in the solar plexus chakra and responsible for digestion
Udana - located in the throat chakra and is responsible for sound
Vyan - located in the sacral chakra and is responsible for movement and circulation throughout the body
Naga - responsible for eructation/burping
Kurma - responsible for opening eyes
Krikara - responsible for hunger and thirst
Devadatta - responsible for yawning
Dhananjay - responsible for hiccups
Of these, the first five are important ones and of them the first two, pran and apan are the most important. The heart is the seat of prana, the anus is the seat of apana, the navel region is the seat of samana, the throat is the seat of udana and vyan moves throughout the body. The remaining vayus, are in charge of functions like eructation (naga), opening eyes (kurma), hunger and thirst (krikira), yawning (devadatta) and hiccups (dhananjaya).
We imbibe Prana when we breathe. Hence, the reserves of Prana can be increased by performing Pranayama which leads to good health of mind and body.
Anuloma Viloma increases the vital capacity of the lungs and helps purify the energy channels in the astral body. According to the Hatha Yoga Pradipika~ "The body of a person whose energy channels or nadis are pure will be lean and glowing. Purification of nadis leads to good health.”
Bhastrika, also known as bellows breath, involves purposeful inhalation followed by purposeful exhalation. It is beneficial in cases of allergies and asthma as well. It makes the lungs strong. It should not be done during pregnancy and menstruation without guidance. For people with high pitta/internal heat, sheetali is a better option.
Bhramari helps strengthen Prana and is good for the thyroid, thymus and the parathyroid glands. Bhramari means bee, so one makes the sound of a humming bee when performing this pranayama. One should close their ears with their thumbs, inhale, and upon exhalation, simultaneously hum with the mouth closed.
While Bhastrika and Bhramari help increase Prana, Shambhavi Mudra can result in a quantum increase in Prana.
Sitting in the lotus pose helps balance Prana, Ojas, Tejas and helps open the heart chakra.
Being honest with our feelings and emotions builds Prana, Ojas and Tejas.
According to David Frawley’s book, Yoga and Ayurveda, David Frawley says–
“These three forces (Ojas, Tejas and Prana) are interrelated. Prana and Tejas are rooted in Ojas and can be regarded as aspects of Ojas. Tejas is the heat and light energy of Ojas that has an oily quality and, like ghee, can sustain a flame. Prana is the energy and strength that comes from Ojas after it has been kindled into Tejas. Ojas proper is the potential, the stamina of the mind and nervous system for holding Tejas and Prana. Ojas has the capacity to turn into Tejas (heat), which has the capacity to turn into Prana (electricity).”
Secrets of The Pulse, Dr. Vasant Dattatray Lad
Charaka Samhita, Gabriel Van Loon
Yoga and Ayurveda, David Frawley
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