How do we explain the unexplainable?
One thing that Ayurvedic practitioners are constantly trying to build in their clients is Ojas. Ojas is a sanskrit word that does not directly translate to english. We describe it and why it’s importance but many of these subtle eastern concepts are difficult to understand.
Ojas is the subtle essence of vital fluids that are responsible for health, vitality, strength, longevity and immunity.
So let’s give ojas a closer look. The closest we can come to translating it is that Ojas means “vigor, radiance”, it’s the “essence of vitality”. What?! Let me explain.
Physically, Ojas is our immunity, how often we get sick and how quickly we heal from injuries/infections, are a couple of examples. Mentally, Ojas is reflected in our level of mental flexibility. It’s our overall ability to manage stress and change.
Ojas is a like a raincoat over our physical body, our minds, and our emotions. It’s a layer that protects us from the stress we encounter day to day. It’s our ability to navigate this modern world with ease and grace.
Signs of Good/High Ojas
- bright complexion
- clear, bright eyes
- stamina and energy (without stimulants)
- high awareness of senses
- good immunity
- healthy colored tongue (light pink, free of color coating)
- profound sense of wellbeing
- peaceful, calm, and content
- creative, flexible mind
- mental focus and clarity
You know a person with good or high Ojas when you meet them. My Ayurvedic physician in India possesses these qualities. They’re largely indescribable but it’s an overall feeling, a vibe of health, peace, mental focus, clarity, and flexibility. It’s inspiring.
Signs of Low Ojas
- dry skin
- cold hand and feet
- sensitive to light and sound
- muscle/joint pain
- feeling heavy in mind/body
- get sick frequently
- mental confusion, fogginess
- low mental focus
We all experience these symptoms at various times in our lives. This is a list of symptoms and warning signs that your body and mind need support. Change needs to happen. Even the smallest change can make a huge difference.
Examples that Decrease Existing Ojas
- over exertion (ashtanga, long distance running etc)
- excess screen time
- over fasting (for some it’s contraindicated)
- poor digestion (constipation, loose bowels, indigestion, food in stools)
- eating old food, UPF (ultra processed foods), most foods you get in a package, in a shelf, at the store
- caffeine, alcohol, nicotine
- lack of schedule/routine
- major changes in life
- eating too much meat
- not eating enough vegetables, fruits, and whole grains (most vegetarians don’t eat enough vegetables)
The above list is the very common and basic way in which we live our lives. These are habits that are deeply imbedded and supported by American culture. Making changes can be very challenging when we lack the support of friends, families, and loved ones. Change is difficult but not impossible.
Foods to build Ojas
- avocado, banana, dates, figs, sweet potatoes, turnips, leafy greens, zucchini, nuts, mung beans, whole grains and more
Avoid the following when ojas is low
- dry, raw, undercooked foods, canned foods, frozen foods, old food, alcohol, caffeine and other stimulants, sugar, flour, UPF (ultra processed foods) that are most packaged foods on shelves
Building ojas is an art. Even though the list above is clear, it takes time and focus to build something as subtle as ojas. It also requires a strong digestion. Ayurvedic herbs can provide support with digestion to help build more ojas.