So I’m back from my finals! Term 1 is done and I am now a certified AHE(Ayurvedic Health Educator)! I am excited to start planning the upcoming workshops and talks I will be giving.
Along with a new semester has come many new things in my life – new move, new job…so I thought why not update the bland site? Hope you all like the new look and feel. Gone are the days of poetry and cynicism from your cynical poet. That lifetime has died and this new one is reborn as I journey further into ayurveda. The poetry will still come, but not from a place of as much suffering and hurt as the past.
And with that I’d like to segue into this next series of blogs. As usual, I will blog once per class, 3x per week on what we cover. Thanks to all those who continue to follow me and welcome to any new comers. Today we will start off on the ever so talked about and important subject of ojas.
Think about all the daily activities you do in your life – basic ones like eating, sleeping, breathing. More complicated ones such as work and play. Where does the energy for these activities come from? How do we fuel our day to day lives?
They can be fueled in one of two ways:
– By our daily diet and lifestyle practices
– By our ojas
Think of ojas as a sort of savings account that we have built up. When times are tough – you’re sick or stressed or tired – you can dip into your ojas for the energy you need. Doing this once in a while is okay, after all, that’s what the savings account is there for. But when we live a depleting lifestyle, serving only our sensory pleasures, we wind up dipping into our ojas not as a rainy day fund, but as a necessity. It gets depleted quickly. Without proper levels of ojas, we cannot contain the prana and tejas within us. When those run rampant, they cause us to have high levels of energy, crashes of exhaustion, and make us more prone to disease in body and mind. I’ll say it again – you protect your ojas and your ojas will protect you!
In the past I have stressed the importance of ojas building. That is still true. However, there is something called ama, which are essentially toxins in the body. How do you tell if you have ama? An easy way is to check your tongue. If there is a coating on it, you have ama in the body. If you have ama in the body and start building ojas, the ojas can sort of “trap” or “lock” in the ama, making it difficult to expel. Not impossible, but difficult (as in inducing vomiting and diarrhea and/or enema difficult). So how do you get rid of ama? Consult a CAS (Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist) of course! But in the meantime, a kitcheree diet can be a good place to start for the beginner.
Ojas are like muscles – they are not going to build themselves! In the physical body we primarily build ojas through diet, oils, and exercise. In the subtle body, where our thoughts and emotions rule, we build ojas through our thoughts, rest, and pranayama (breathing practices). In the same way air flows through tubes in our body, prana flows through nadis. Doing pranayama helps to strengthen the walls of the nadis, which are made of ojas. Just like working out any muscle! But we must be careful not to overdo it, as with any practice.
We’ve all been waiting a long time for me to share more ways to build ojas. So without further ado, here are ten!
- Work less – physical rest is important. Doing one thing at a time, and flowing from one to the next especially pacifies vata.
- Think less – mental rest is key. For pittas especially, this means we need to play more (something I struggle with), meditate more, etc.
- Stretch more – yoga asanas (postures) or other forms of exercise help us stay healthy. Starting with restorative and then working up to strength and balance is best.
- Stroll more – spend more time in nature. Many people in today’s society are diagnosed with ADD – attention deficit disorder. It would be better classified as NDD – nature deficit disorder. Spending time in nature is proven to help people with ADD. Think of it this way – what will be healthier: Being in a brightly lit, flashing and loud casino, or sitting beside a gently babbling brook?
- Pranayama – breathing practices. Best to consult a CAS. For starters, pittas should look up lunar pranayama, kapha’s solar pranayama, and vatas alternate nostril pranayama. With all of these only a short amount of time, 5-10 minutes, is needed as it can be depleting if done in excess.
- Ojas Building Foods – if you have ama in the system, avoid this one as discussed earlier in the article. If you want to build ojas, foods with a sweet taste (not sugary!) are best: meat, dairy, root veg, ghee, nuts, grains, etc. All of these need spices to help digest it well, such as fennel, coriander, ginger, turmeric, etc. Again, a CAS is needed for diet recommendations.
- Internal Oleation – Taking medicated oils or otherwise internally.
- External Oleation – Abhyanga practice is best
- Bastis – medicated enemas. Yes I know how uncomfortable this makes people, especially here in the west. Nothing wrong with the practice as it does build ojas. However, for now, you can do the other techniques until you become more comfortable. Even I’m not there yet! 🙂
- Nasya – oil applied directly into the nostrils. This practice is great especially if done an hour after neti. Often will help srengthen the nerves and sedate a busy mind.
So there you have it! Ten wonderful ways that we can build ojas! As the weather gets nicer lets all realize we have NDD and head outside! And in case you forget, there is one ultimate, and most important way to build ojas.
As always I wish you all good health.