She has that “glow”.
A friend shared a video of her wedding night with me (don’t worry, the groom is in the background, passed out in his three piece suit, dapper even in sleep). She is incandescent. Radiant with joy. Even via screen, she is clearly saturated with ojas (the body’s “natural honey”). There are friends there with her, and they are all just reveling in the sweet love story. Everyone is being silly and giddy, having a wonderful time. It is a very pure happiness; childlike. She is clearly so in love – it jumps out – and it is beautiful.
In Ayurveda, ojas (OH-JUS) means vigor, vitality, radiance. Mojo. A common way to describe ojas is that it looks like the light of the moon. Our insides, our skin, our aura, is lit up. Our eyes sparkle.
Ojas affects basically everything: digestion, mood, skin, immunity, sleep quality, and digestion. It is a biochemical substance that is said to have a profound influence on our mental, emotional and physical health.
Ojas is the pure essence of kapha. This kapha essence is moist and thick, like honey. Ojas is the good stuff that we make out of what we eat and what we think. It is where we get our strength and endurance. It helps us ward off disease.
Love builds Ojas like crazy. My husband is obsessed with Rocky and says, in his Rocky voice: “You’re my Adrian”
Ojas Keeps Us Young, Healthy and Vital
Physically, ojas are known to “nourish and sustain” the various tissues (dhatus) of the body. We get ojas from good food, positive thoughts, and happy experiences. The ojas (body honey) then builds our immune system, our physical strength, and makes our digestive system run efficiently.
Our bodies metabolize the emotional content of every experience that we have. Happiness sends one set of chemicals going, and fear causes an entirely different cascade (I bet you can guess which cascade is more pleasant and less wearing to the body). These are physical, chemical changes in our bodies. One set of chemicals helps build ojas, the other depletes us of ojas.
This amazing substance also influences where we are at spiritually. Ojas is known to be the “lamp at the door” between consciousness and matter. This “lamp” connects the two (consciousness and matter) and brings ideas into being (I think). Ojas is: “…the most important biochemical substance mediating the influence of consciousness on the body” (Sharma & Clark, 2009).
Ojas brings us joy and contentment. There is a positive feedback loop in that if we are well-fed and thinking happy thoughts, we get more ojas, and more ojas gives us more feelings of happiness and joy. So, it’s important to keep ojas flowing; it sustains our vitality.
All ayurvedic treatment is designed to increase the amount of ojas and to avoid reducing ojas. According to ayurveda, maximizing ojas is the WAY to health.
What do High-Ojas people Have?
Glowing skin, sparkly eyes, physical strength, lots of energy, great immunity, excellent health, lightness in body and mind (light on their feet and lighthearted), endurance, keen mental focus, ample creativity, happiness, joy: profound wellness and vitality
What Drains us of Ojas? What Takes Away Our Mojo?
- Negative emotion (don’t go all toxic-positive on me here though)
- Being in a rush
- Too much exercise. Be reasonable.
- Fasting – pretty tough on most of us; try a Kitchari Cleanse instead
- Rough/light diet (raw, lots of crackers and popcorn, etc)
- Too much wind or sun. Be moderate with the elements (hat, shelter)
- Staying up all night
- Excess talking or gossiping; try talking about the trivial or the funny; maybe silence
- Screen time, especially draining or violent stuff
- Dehydration or bleeding (yip)
- Too much sex
- Hanging out with Energy Vampires
- Injury or bodily trauma
- Alcohol (and probably marijuana – guessing)
The Three Biggest Ways to Increase Ojas
- Consciousness: the main factor in increasing ojas is how “awake” we are. As the Inner Self becomes more apparent, more ojas is spontaneously made! (this is the possible origin of the theory/observation that growing towards enlightenment means growing happier).
- Happiness. Feeling positive – cultivating positivity in words and behavior, is a direct route to increased happiness. I learned about this one from my husband; he is very good at it. Through him, I saw that simple joy can be cultivated in the most monotonous of things. Considering that he has been teaching and raising kids for 25 years (with 16.5 more to go!), he has been able to find meditative joy in caring for children and going with the “slow life”. Looking for and embracing love, joy, and appreciation – these are the things that really turn on the mojo-juice. These feelings help us crank out the ojas, and we get better immunity. This is mind/body at work.
- Good digestion and a balanced diet
Other Ojas-Building Strategies (The Usual Suspects)
Activities to Increase Ojas
- Breath work
- Panchakarma – Ayurvedic purification therapy. It helps rid the body of toxins. This way, the cells can take in the ojas that our good mojo thinking made.
- Enough sleep (and a regular sleep schedule)
- Fresh, organic, home-cooked food
- Herbs (consult an Ayurvedic Practitioner). A good one is Ashwaghanda – it is the Vitamin C of Ayurveda. Beneficial for most of us, it helps to restore and rejuvenate us.
- Time with loved-ones
- Time doing something that brings happiness
- Pampering time (bath, haircut, pedi, shave)
- Going on vacation (if vacation doesn’t cause stress)
- Time with passion projects
- Getting off the screen
- Time in nature
- Chanting Always. Helps.
- Abhyanga (oil self-massage)
Foods to Increase Ojas
- Dates, figs
- Mung Beans
- Leafy greens
- Sweet potatoes
- Nuts (especially almonds)
- Whole grains (amaranth, oatmeal, basamati rice, quinoa, whole wheat)
Ojas is Important for Pregnancy and Fertility
Being high in ojas can boost fertility and is a great thing to have for your baby in pregnancy. So eat well, have good thoughts, and allow others to care for you.
Ojas works for us, makes us easy and happy. We can build ojas with a few simple lifestyle tweaks. We can give ourselves permission to live in the moment and find happiness there.
Sharma and Clark (2009). Ayurvedic Healing. Singing Dragon, London and Philadelphia.