Prana, Tejas, Ojas
There are 3 subtle energy forces in our body, each associated with a Dosha.
Prana is the subtle energy of Vata Dosha and is the guiding intelligence that coordinates all of our physiological and psychological processes. On a deeper level, it governs the higher states of consciousness.
Tejas is the subtle energy of Pitta Dosha and is responsible for all transformations - both physically, as in breaking down and transporting food, as well as the metabolism of thoughts and emotions. Tejas governs our higher perceptual abilities.
Lastly, Ojas, as the subtle energy and purest form of Kapha Dosha, is our source of immunity, strength, and longevity. Ojas is the end-product of digestion, is present in all our tissues, and is thought to be the glue that holds everything together, including body, mind, and consciousness. It is often referred to as the body’s natural honey: delicate and refined.
Ojas is the product of a balanced, dosha-pacifying diet and healthy and regular digestion. Ideally it promotes mental and physical strength and endurance, patience, sustained concentration, memory, adequate immunity, and a feeling of contentment.
Foods which promote Ojas are those which increase Kapha - those with sweet, sour, and salty tastes, according to Ayurveda. While a moderate intake of these foods is called for, too many can overwhelm your digestive fire (agni) and/or increase Ama. The result can leave you feeling lethargic, tired, bloated, or with a lack of motivation. Knowing your Prakruti (your baseline Dosha) is important so you have an idea of the amount of Ojas-supporting foods your body’s constitution can support before it is too much. Other influencing factors to keep in mind are your current state of health, age, pregnant/breastfeeding, etc.
Things that deplete Ojas
- Not adhering to a daily schedule
- Over exertion
- Excessive screen time
- Over fasting
- Poor digestion
- Eating old food (lacks Prana)
- Consuming caffeine, alcohol, nicotine
- Engaging in toxic relationships
- Over consumption of foods that increase Kapha Dosha
Things that increase Ojas
- Yoga and meditation
- Sufficient sleep
- Adhering to daily routine
- Adequate exercise - not excessive
- Healthy relationships
- Consuming fresh foods appropriate for your constitution
- Dairy products, including ghee, in moderation
- Nuts, avocados, honey, whole grains
- Regular, predictable digestion (agni)
It is just as important to build our reserve of Ojas as it is not to deplete our stores. The more Ojas we have, the more impervious we are to illnesses we are exposed to, but just as importantly, the negativity we encounter daily - from media, the news, and possibly from our relationships. As a Western culture, we are perpetually tapping into our Ojas reserves. Keep this in mind the next time you contemplate whether to pound out “one more” Netflix episode before bed, or get up early to work. Instead save that show for another night, and consider getting up for a rejuvenating Pranayama or Yoga practice. Add foods daily that increase Ojas - like nuts or fresh avocado - and limit caffeine intake.
With every small step you gain more focus and resolve.
Imagine all the things you could do with additional energy, patience, and resilience.