Ayurvedic Tips for Increasing Ojas – The Key to Immunity and Longevity
My first Ayurvedic teacher, Larissa Carlson, called herself an Ojas dealer. We were at a sweet winter retreat at Kripalu and spent 5 days diving into restorative Yoga, Ayurvedic living, and deeper nourishment. It was my first experience with building ojas and woe – what an experience it was!
What Is Ojas?
Ojas is the superfine essence of Kapha. It is described as a milky white fluid – there’s a drop of it in every cell and eight drops in your heart. You are born with a certain amount and it becomes depleted over time. Ojas is responsible for your vitality, immunity, strength, and vigor. Healthy ojas allows for enthusiasm, longevity, and a sense of being stable and grounded.
Ojas comes to us mostly through food. It is the substance that’s built after all seven dhatus layers of tissues are nourished. That which is left over build ojas. It takes 28-30 days to create ojas from the foods we eat.
In Balance – Compassion, contentment, all cellular immunity, capacity for bliss.
Out of Balance (too little) – weakened immune system, complacent, discontent
Things That Build Ojas
— Proper Rest – Yoga Nidra, Restorative Yoga, and healthy sleep hygiene are all key for building ojas
— Proper Diet – foods rich in life force, close to the earth, and unprocessed. Cooked fresh organic foods, adequately spiced. Dates, fresh-made almond milk, ghee, honey (do not heat), and my favorite – chyavanprash all increase Ojas.
— Proper Activity – spending time in nature, performing Yoga asana, meditation and pranayama, not having too much sexual activity, cuddling with pets, family or friends.
Things That Deplete Ojas
— The biggest thing that depletes Ojas is stress. We know stress wears the body down. Modern science explains how an overactive sympathetic nervous system and increased cortisol levels are the root cause of many disease processes. Check out this documentary from National Geographic on the science of stress.
— Negative emotions – Traumatic experiences, excessive worry, or anger take us away from a sattvic, or peaceful state of mind thereby depleting ojas.
— Excessive fasting – is difficult for the nervous system and depletes the bodily tissues.
— Staying up late – past the hours where the body is spending time in repair and rejuvenation. Try to be in bed by 10pm.
— Too much sexual activity – depletes the sukra- the male and female reproductive tissues. Excessive loss of shukra (reproductive tissue) directly correlates with decreased ojas.
— Continuously being in a hurry – creates excess Rajas which slowly depletes Ojas.
— Exercise – that is too hard, too intense, or overly heated depletes the body.
— Excessive alcohol – creates inflammation and dryness depleting Ojas as a result.
When looking at the things in your life that deplete Ojas, I find the most important thing is to cultivate self-compassion. Try being gentle with yourself, and tender…maintain openness and a sense of curiosity as you decide what to let go of and what to develop more of.
Want To Know More?
The knowledge of Ayurveda can help us understand how to take care of our bodies every season. By making simple lifestyle changes, we can invest in our health and well-being. Join us for our ayurvedic fall cleanse to learn more about how you can nourish your body and mind this season.
Kitchari is one of my favorite foods and is Ayrvedically sound as a way to gently ease the transition to spring. As you see what is happening in nature, you can understand what is happening within. The season change is a vulnerable time, a time when we need to cultivate sweet stability for our bodily tissues. Kitchari is a perfect food, nourishing, a complete protein, easy on digestion, and delicious.
Here is a recipe below:
1½ cups Rice and Dal
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
½ teaspoon sea salt
2 pinches hing (asafoetida)
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 stick kombu
1 inch of burdock root
2 tablespoons ghee
6 cups water
1–2 cups chopped vegetables
Wash Rice and Dal and soak overnight. Drain and rinse.
In a medium saucepan warm the ghee. Add spices and sauté for one to
two minutes. Add rice and mung dal and sauté for another couple of minutes. Then add 6 cups of water and bring to a boil.
Once it has come to a boil reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover and cook
until it is tender (approx. 30–45 minutes).
If you are adding vegetables to your kitchari, add the longer cooking vegetables halfway through the cooking. Add vegetables that cook faster,
such as leafy greens, near the end.
Add more water if needed. You may prefer your kitchari more like a stew or even a broth.
Makes 2 servings
Ayurveda for Winter
10 Ayurvedic Tips For Winter
Seasonal Ayurveda Series – Finding Balance
Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old science that originated in ancient India.
Ayurveda is one of the world’s oldest comprehensive healthcare systems. Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word, that combines the words Ayu for Life and Veda for science. It is the sister science of Yoga. Ancient practitioners designed this wisdom practice to offer precise and individualized support to care for your physical and mental/emotional bodies. The science of Ayurveda has been the biggest catalyst for bringing balance and healing to my own life and the lives of my clients.
“Ayurveda is beyond beginning and ending. A science of eternal healing, it is compared to a vast ocean and studying Ayurveda to swimming across. A true teacher can teach one how to swim, but swimming is up to the student; …it is a lifelong journey.”
Ayurveda begins with the principle that we are a microcosm of the macrocosm.
Prakriti – one primary Ayurvedic principle is that each of the five elements is present in everything.
Our entire bodies are comprised of the five elements – ether, air, water, fire, and earth. These elements represent in all things in the natural world. We can see the five elements at play everywhere. It shows up in the seasons of life, the seasons of nature, all animate and inanimate matter.
Imagine for a moment you are holding a glass of water. The glass begins as the sand, which represents earth. Fire turns this sand into glass. The water in it is, well, water with a little bit of heat that forms it into a liquid state. Notice too that air and space are also an integral part of the whole. To break it down further, this is a typical way that the elements show up in the bodily form:
If we can understand the unique dynamism at play within and without we can create a life of balance, health, and longevity.
The Pancha Maha Bhutas or five elements and their Tanmatras are:
Ether – hearing, intuiting, space
Air – touch, breath, movement, life
Water – taste, protection, nourishment, blood, plasma
Fire – vision, light, warmth, metabolism
Earth- scent, structure, muscles, bones
We can observe the five elements in the seasons, the times of day, the phases of life, and our physical and psycho-emotional bodies. These five elements come together in different “imbalances” to create the Three Doshas – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
Vata contains both air and ether. It is very much like the late fall and winter – cold, windy, dry, and quick. Vata is also the season of old age. The time of day where Vata is most prevalent is 2-6 (am and pm). We will talk more about Vata dosha more as it is the primary dosha of winter in the western hemisphere. Understanding how to keep Vata in balance is especially helpful as the season turns. But first, let’s continue to explore the rest of the doshas.
Pitta is comprised of fire and water. This combination makes it hot, oily, light, sharp, and penetrating. It is associated with summer and young adulthood. Pitta time of day is 10-2 (am and pm).
Kapha is made up of water and earth. It is cold, moist, heavy, and dense. Kapha season is spring and early fall and is most present in childhood. The time of day associated with this dosha is 6-10 (am and pm).
Discover your constitution here.
Seasonal Ayurveda – Vata Dosha In Winter
As we are entering the heart of winter, you may notice an abundance of air and ether and the qualities of Vata dosha all around. Nature informs us of what is happening within. The qualities of Vata are cold, dry, light, quick, mobile, rough, and clear. If you notice you are experiencing feeling cold, dry skin, anxiety, insomnia, restlessness, constipation, or difficulty focusing, you may want to pacify Vata dosha.
People whose constitution is predominately Vata may move and act more quickly than other doshic types as well as tire more easily. They are creative, and their appetite, digestion, and elimination may fluctuate.
Whether or not your Prakriti or true nature is Vata dosha, during the wintertime it is likely to become vitiated or what’s known as your Vikriti. We want to be particularly mindful of bringing Vata dosha into balance to promote vitality, longevity, and overall well-being.
Here are my Top 10 Ayurvedic Tips for Winter:
- Establish a supportive daily routine. Wake and sleep at the same times every day, ensure you eat regular meals, and stick to a schedule of rest and play. If you have trouble sleeping, make sure you are getting morning and evening sunlight exposure
- Meditate on a word, an image, or a sound to focus and calm the mind
- Eat warm, dense, moist foods such as root vegetables, stews, and porridge
- Sip warm water throughout the day
- Enjoy warming spices such as cinnamon, clove, cardamom, black pepper
- Add bitter and astringent tastes to your diet
- Eat high-quality fats like avocado oil or better yet, make your own ghee
- Perform daily abhyanga or warm oil massage with organic sesame oil
- Enjoy going to bed early, ideally by 10 pm
- Remember, Vata needs stability, warmth, and regularity to be balanced. Incorporate these qualities throughout your life as much as possible.
Here’s a little video on performing abhyangha – the most loving self-care warm oil massage. You can purchase lovely abhyanga oil here.
Enjoy these simple, pleasurable self-care practices that help you remain balanced and serene during this chilly season.
This life knowledge often feels like a remembrance for those who study it and I humbly seek to impart this wisdom as it was taught to me.
Want to know more? Sign up for our free foundations course. This course teaches you the Four Pillars of Ayurveda and how to live a life of health, well-being, and longevity.
Cultivating Tapas to Evoke Tejas
The Yoga of Inner Fire
Beautiful ones, today I want to share with you the concepts of Tapas and Tejas. Through the study of Yoga Philosophy, you can cultivate vibrant living and inner radiance.
In Yogic and Ayurvedic philosophy, there is the concept of humans as the microcosm of the macrocosm. Everything in nature presents within us and everything within us presents within nature. We are the little world in which the universe is reflected. Look around and you may see this to be true.
Agni is the Sanskrit word for fire. It represents the Vedic god of fire and illuminates, transforms, creates warmth and energy. In Ayurveda, Agni is the fire of digestion and metabolism. It is present in the body in the form of Pitta Dosha and has its origins in Tejas.
Tejas is illumination, radiant splendor. It represents intelligence, illumination, energy, and vitality. It is the superfine essence of Pitta (one of the Ayurvedic Doshas) and can be seen as a melting heart that draws others in.
How does one build Tejas?
Through Tapas – tap is the Sanskrit word for “burn”. Tapas, which means austerity is purification through discipline. Tapas is related to Agni, the element of fire, and it can be perceived as burning enthusiasm.
It purifies samskaras, deeply ingrained habits, and ways of being that no longer serve us. For instance, Tapas builds character and strengthens our will. It also helps us hone our intention so that it is stronger than the obstacles we encounter.
With a steadfast dedication to Yoga practice, we can turn Tapas into the more refined Tejas.
As a result of my own evolution through Yoga practice and all the benefits it brings, I am inspired to rededicate my heart to daily Sadhana. I already feel the burning fire of discipline ignited in my soul. It feels good.
Here is a little look at my daily practice:
- 7:00 am: Wake-up and meditate. Get some exposure to sunlight.
- 7:20 am: Perform oral hygiene that includes oil pulling, tongue scraping, and brush teeth.
- 7:30 am: Drink hot water with lemon or lime if you have a fiery nature. This will hopefully stimulate elimination. Sit and plan out my day.
- 7:45 am: Move my body/ care for kids. In the first part of the day, I like to get in the bulk of my exercise. I vary my workouts but usually, they include rebounding, Yoga sun salutations), pranayama (breathwork), dance, and sometimes Agni Sara.
- 9:00 am: Perform abhyanga (warm oil self-massage)/ shower/ eat something warm, light, and noruishing.
- 10:00 am: Begin Work. I try to get the bulk of my work done during Pitta (fiery) time of day 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. You will notice this is the time the sun is highest in the sky – it is also the time when the fire is strongest in our bodies.
- 12:00 pm: Lunch – eat your largest meal of the day in this time of fire and digestive strength. Eat in silence if possible and try to stay off screens.
- 12:30 pm: Take a walk in nature.
- 1:00 pm: Finish up any computer tasks or work that requires a lot of focus.
- 2:00 pm: This begins Vata time of day which is the most creative time. I love to use this period for creative projects, meditation, communication, and things like restorative Yoga.
- 5:00 pm: Dinner prep food and eat. Choose from local – whole foods – close to nature and filled with Prana so nothing with a long shelf life and freshly made if possible.
- 6:00 pm: Commit to completing any work tasks by now and turn work off. Be fully present with my family, and invite play and pleasure. As a person who tends toward overwork, making this commitment to myself is supremely important.
- 6:30 – 7:30 pm: Catch evening sunset – view outdoors if possible. (More on this from the brilliant Dr. Huberman)
- 8:00 pm: Turn off all electronics by this time. Ideally two hours before bed. (Or get blue light glasses)
- 10:00 pm: This is the ideal time for bedtime.
I hope this sample routine helps you! It is a way to cultivate the power of discipline which has innumerable benefits. When we build Tapas – we increase our pure potential and authentic power to show up in the world as who we are meant to be.
Here’s a beautiful video from Rod Stryker on turning Tapa to Tejas.
Join me on Wednesdays for small group Yoga Therapy classes. This month our focus is cultivating Tapas.
Ayurveda for Summer
Summer is the season of Pitta. Pitta Dosha represents the elements of fire and water. The qualities are hot, light, sharp, oily, pungent, penetrating, intense, acidic. Pitta controls digestion – it is the fire of metabolism (representing how we digest food) and the fire of the mind (how we digest information). It is the dosha of transformation, of summertime, of the hours of the day between 10 and 2. Pitta governs the eyes, the skin, metabolism, and assimilation, desire and spirituality.
If you are a person with a Pitta constitution you generally have a medium, athletic build, you may have red or bald and thinning hair, a healthy radiant complexion, strong appetite and digestion, abundant energy, ample drive and motivation, a powerful intellect and a fiery personality.
If you are experiencing feelings of impatience or irritability, a demanding or critical nature, perfectionism, skin rashes, ulcers, thinning hair or hot flashes you may have a Pitta imbalance.
As summertime is the season of Pitta, it is coming for this Dosha to become imbalanced. To counteract an abundance of Pitta, we want to invite foods, activities, and environments that are sweet, cooling and stabilizing. Here are a few simple lifestyle tweaks:
- Cool colors such as white, light blue, light green, light gray.
- Essential oils such as jasmine, rose, ylang-ylang, lavender, peppermint, sandalwood.
- Spend time in nature.
- Be by water.
- Bathe in the moonlight.
- Keep plants in your home.
- Make equal times for rest and play.
- Do not overwork.
- Foods that are cooling and sweet such as: Cucumbers, mint, grapes, melon, avocado, asparagus, sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, mint and fennel.
- Avoid spicy foods, alcohol, and coffee.
- Replace coffee with CCF tea (equal parts cumin, coriander, and fennel).
- Yin Yoga (quiet, still postures)
- Metta Bhavana or Loving Kindness meditation
- Shitali or Shitkari and Nadi Shodhana Pranayama.
- Daily Abhyanga or self-massage with coconut oil.
- Nurture friendships.
- Laugh often.
I hope this helps <3
Prakriti (your true nature)
Vikriti (your imbalance)
This is a great site: https://www.banyanbotanicals.com/info/prakriti-quiz/
For more information on Ayurveda for your Dosha Schedule Your Free Discovery Call Now!