We know ojas when we see it : the glow of a woman in love; the magnetism of sages and saints; the power of a person living their purpose; or, the insatiable attraction we have toward the babies and young children.
Ayurveda recognizes a subtle bodily substance called ojas (pronounced o-jahs) as the foundation for our overall health, happiness and resilience to stress. Its name translates as “strength”, “splendour”, “lustre” or “powerful expression”.
Ojas is a very refined, protoplasmic-type substance formed by our bodily tissues, a by-product of kapha dosha. Ojas gives energy, radiance and endurance associated with strong immunity, fertility, creativity, clarity of mind and happiness.
“Love is the ojas of the universe.” - Berdhanya Swami Tierra
On a spiritual level, ojas reflects our love for the world of form, the harmony between our physical selves and our spiritual nature. Ojas provides an earthy platform for higher states of spiritual perception.
Signs of strong ojas include:
Bright eyes and glowing skin
A clear, focused mind and positive attitude
A strong immune system and natural resilience to stress
Fertility and/or creative expression
A strong connection with nature
A pain-free body (e.g. very few aches and pains)
A clear and pink tongue & good digestion
The sense that you are being nourished by all aspects of your life
Ojas is associated with certain factors, including age, natural constitution, stress levels, diet and digestive health.
Ojas is naturally high in newborns, young children and teenagers, who exhibit ojas through abundant energy, plump skin and a playful, curious attitude toward life. This is also why nutritional deficiencies or poor dietary habits may not show signs in their physical bodies until they are older.
Ojas is related to Kapha dosha, the constitutional type that is strong, slow and resilient. Kapha types tend to have natural reserves of ojas, apparent through their calm dispositions, resilience to stress and smooth, lustrous skin.
Those who are overweight may appear to have good ojas, but their tissues are not really formed by the same tissue quality. Those who are underweight tend to be have poor levels of ojas and less physical stamina.
All types can promote ojas through proper diet and lifestyle.
Ojas becomes depleted by physical, emotional or mental over-exertion. This includes excessive use of technology (e.g. computers or smartphones), high stress levels and excessive use of the senses (e.g. too much talking, thinking, reading, eating or sexual activity).
Diet & Digestive Health
Ayurveda emphasizes good digestion as a foundation for overall health because what you digest creates your bodily tissues, the quality of your mind and your emotional states. Your digestive ability also includes the impressions you take in from your environment, your relationships and any unprocessed emotions or thoughts.
If your digestion is working well, your body will naturally create strong and well-nourished tissues. If you do not digest well, any undigested material (e.g. food, thoughts, impressions or emotions) form toxins (ama) in your body. Toxins block the subtle channels of the body and prevent even the healthiest food from being properly assimilated; this will result in fatigue, depleted tissues, digestive imbalances, moodiness, and eventually, disease.
Promoting Ojas In Your Life
The more we learn to live in harmony with ourselves and with the world around us, the more ojas shines through our eyes, skin and energy field.
The following tips will help you to promote ojas in your daily life:
Commit to a daily spiritual practice (e.g. meditation, yoga, pranayamas)
Favour a diet of freshly cooked food and keep good digestive habits. Try not to overeat. Take at least 20 minutes without other distractions to enjoy your meal.
Keep a slow and steady pace throughout your day. Reduce stress levels where possible and try not to rush.
Spend more time in nature.
Set aside time for regular self-care and/or ayurvedic bodywork (e.g. baths, self-massage, abhyanga, shirodhara).
Keep a clean, peaceful and beautiful home.
Explore your creativity through journaling, art, writing, music and/or dance.
Have fun in life. Laugh often. Pursue what you love. Recognize that what you focus on grows.
Choose relationships where you feel uplifted, supported and inspired.
Honour your needs for introspection and alone time.
Seek the company of the sages and the wise ones and/or read books to promote spiritual awareness.
Foods that favour ojas include ghee, basmati rice, bananas, almonds, raw honey, quinoa, maple syrup and flax seed oil.
Herbs that support ojas include ashwaghanda, shatavari, chyawanprash, oatstraw and triphala.
After sexual activity, share warm, rejuvenating drinks (e.g. date milk or golden milk) with your partner.
If your ojas is depleted (e.g. due to health issues or chronic stress), consider panchakarma, the ayurvedic program for detoxification and rejuvenation.
About the Author
Briya Freeman has been teaching courses in meditation and natural healing since 2011, including The Bloom Project, an online course for women in natural self-healing and radiant living.
Briya is a long-term student of Berdhanya Swami Tierra, a female mystic and shaman of South American origin. She also holds studies in ayurveda at Anjali School of Ayurveda (Kerala, India) and a Bachelor’s degree in Commerce from the University of Ottawa.