ojas: the vital life sap
Do you feel: Tired? Run down? Overwhelmed? Lacking strength and immunity? Wired and tired? Overly sensitive, like you don't have enough buffer between you and the world? Sick with one thing or another all too often? Having trouble conceiving? If the yeses start to stack up as you read through these questions, then chances are good that it's time to do some ojas building.
What is ojas?
Pronounced 'oh-jus', ojas is one of the three vital essences that support proper functioning of the physical and subtle bodies. This vital sap is the subtle essence of kapha and is kapha-like in that it is a source stability and strength. It contains the essence of all we have digested and is responsible for nourishment of the deepest kind. Ojas is also the foundation of immunity, and provides the capacity for us to defend ourselves against external pathogens. Adequate levels of ojas equal an appropriate level of resiliency in physical body, energetic body, and mind.
This vital essence is, in some ways, meant to be held in reserve, tapped into when our base levels of energy, strength, and resiliency run a little low. It functions like a savings account, which we may need to tap into occasionally if we overspend our budget. However, if we are regularly overspending, and not actively replenishing our savings, then we'll quickly begin to run a deficit. So it goes with ojas as well, if we regularly spend more vitality than what we have on hand, if we're not honest about what our true energetic budget is, if we regularly run ourselves down to zero and have to tap into our deep reserves, we'll begin to deplete this important store of strength, resilience, and immunity.
So, what kinds of things deplete ojas?
- Wrong foods and poor digestion will affect the body's ability to replenish ojas.
- Stimulants, whether prescription, herbal, or caffeine.
- Always being in motion, either physically or mentally will deplete the reserves.
- Over stimulation of any kind spends down ojas. Low quality or quantity of sleep will negatively affect ojas.
- Excessive sexual activity (per dosha) quickly consumes this vital essence.
- A focus on doing and accomplishing, without a sense of being and ease, keeps us in a cycle of burning ojas without restocking this subtle fuel.
- A sense of life as humdrum, boring, and monotonous.
How do we rebuild our ojas reserve?
- Right diet with a focus on complete digestion with no symptoms of indigestion.
- Tonifying herbs, foods, and beverages.
- Taking time to pause, rest, and reset. This should be done daily, weekly, monthly, seasonally, and annually. This time can look like regular moments to consciously visit the breath during the day, a weekly sabbath, seasonal cleanses, and yearly retreat to rebuild your deep reserves in a powerful way.
- Withdrawal of the senses. Taking in sensory input requires energy, so lessening our sensory consumption means we're not spending so much of our budget. Be especially aware of screen time and scrolling, as this is a notorious way we spend ojas unconsciously.
- Yogic practices, especially mediation and yoga nidra.
- Supportive community and a sense of connection.
- Wow! Awakening moment-to-moment awareness that allows the sense of wonder and curiosity about the world to prevail.
Ayurveda as a science has perfected the art of ojas building. From foods, beverages, and herbs that build ojas; to honing a daily, seasonal, and yearly routine that ensures we're building our vital reserves; there is something to support your own sense of vitality, resiliency, and stamina. If you could use some support honing in on what practices would be most effective for you, you can book a consultation with me or an Ayurvedic Practitioner near you.