What is Ojas?
Ojas is an Ayurvedic term that can be loosely translated as immunity or vigor. But these translations do not do justice to the subtle complexities and manifestations of ojas that allow the body and mind to resist stress – When ojas is abundant in the human body it physically manifests as:
- A glowing complexion
- Strong hair and nails
- Clear, pink tongue
- Sparkling eyes
- A spring in your step
- Plenty of energy with no slumps during the day
- No aches and pain
- Robust strength
- Resistance to disease
An abundance of ojas mentally manifests as:
- The ability to focus quickly and well
- Increased creativity
- A sense of calmness and groundedness, especially in the face of anxiety-inducing situations
- A robust sense of mental and emotional wellbeing
- Clarity of thought
- A deep sense of satisfaction and happiness
So, perhaps a more accurate definition of ojas is primal vitality, a conception that is certainly not exclusive to Ayurveda, but can also be translated to mean jing or chi in the context of other traditional medicinal systems.
Ojas depletion in times of Coronavirus
Nothing depletes ojas as readily as stress, so you can see why, in troubling times such as these, it becomes important to boost your ojas to give you the buffer you need to maintain optimal physical and mental health.
During pregnancy, it becomes even more vital to develop this primal essence, since ojas is readily transferred between the mother and the fetus, especially during the 8th and 9th months of pregnancy. According to Astanga Hridayam, a classic Ayurvedic text, “ Its (Ojas’) presence in the fetus and mother produce strength and contentment, and its absence fatigue and anxiety.” So when you feel tired, mentally or physically, that’s when you know you need to replenish and build your ojas.
Considering that ojas is a by-product of nutrition and digestion, the first step is to eat nutritious, fresh in-season whole foods.
Eat high-quality, fresh, whole foods
- Cook from scratch and avoid raw, uncooked, canned, packaged, highly- processed or old (leftover) foods
- Avoid refined flours, sugar, alcohol and caffeine
- Avoid vegetable oils for cooking
- Industrial oils including canola oil, soybean/vegetable oil, cottonseed oil and corn oil are never healthy to consume.
- Instead use grass-fed ghee, real olive oil, coconut oil or sustainably sourced palm oil, or even butter, for cooking.
Consume Ojas boosting foods, herbs and Ayurvedic tonics
- Foods highest in Ojas building qualities include grassfed ghee, almonds, figs, dates, honey, avocadoes, bananas, figs, sweet potatoes, zucchini, cooked leafy greens, mung beans, and sweet in-season fruit.
- The classic Ayurvedic Chyawanprash is an amazing tonic typically containing between 15-45 herbs for boosting ojas, vitality and health. We recommend the one sold by Banyan Botanicals (no affiliation). If you’re pregnant, however, we suggest you consult with your health care practitioner before taking any concoctions/tonics.
- Drink Ojas drinking milk, everyday before going to bed. As a bonus, drinking this milk will also help bring restful sleep. Recipe below:
- Digestion or “agni” (fire) is the gatekeeper of ojas and responsible for all metabolic functions in the body. Optimal digestion leads to optimal immunity.
- To boost digestion consume plenty of probiotic rich foods everyday such as:
- 24 hour yogurt – yogurt made by fermenting milk for 24 hours.
- Milk or water kefir – easy to make on your own with kefir grains
- Sauerkraut/kimchi/fermented vegetables – Make your own or look for live cultured pickles, sauerkraut, vegetables and kimchi in the refrigerated section of your local organic store
- Reduce snacking, eat meals at regular intervals
- Try to avoid drinking water with meals in order to not dilute digestive juices
- Avoid cold drinks and food; drink warm ginger tea, fennel tea or warm water instead
- Eat fruits on an empty stomach
Practice self-massage daily
Self-massage with immunity-boosting organic oils calm the nervous system and reduce stress, which can help support a strong immune system – It is no coincidence that the act of anointing oneself with oil is called “sneha” in Sanskrit, which also means love. The added benefit of self-massage while pregnant is the reduced possibility of getting stretch marks. Learn more about the health-boosting benefits of self-massage here with tips on safe practice while pregnant.
Practice yoga daily
Yoga done under early-morning sunlight is exceedingly beneficial in reducing stress and balancing your body, especially when accompanied with deep diaphragmatic breathing. During pregnancy, yoga is all the more beneficial, as it is gentle on the body and the joints. Try to practice outside to get the added benefit of vitamin D.