OJAS, TEJAS AND PRANA

Ojas-The Sap of Life, Vigor, Vitality, Radiant Health and Luster

What is Ojas?

According to Ayurveda, Ojas is the subtle essence that is responsible for life, radiant health, strong immunity, vigor, longevity and overall well being of an individual.  The subtle essence called ojas that is extracted from the proper digestion and efficient metabolism of food nourishes the bodily tissues of blood, plasma and lymph, muscle, fat, bones, bone marrow, semen and ojas.  Ojas also forms the basic material of the five sense organs, ligaments and lubricating fluids. Improper digestion leads to production of ama or toxins in the body.  The accumulation of ama/toxins in the bodily tissues is what leads to disease.

The heart is the seat of the ojas. From the heart, 10 blood vessels referred to as mahaphala carry ojas to the rest of the body. Ojas is affected by not only the food we take in and its healthy digestion, but also by the sensory impressions we take in. Hence it is important to protect the physical and emotional health of the heart.

Ojas is described to have the color of ghee, the taste of honey, the smell of fried paddy/rice grain.

Signs of healthy Ojas:

A person with healthy ojas possesses:

  • Clear radiant complexion
  • Strong immunity against infectious disease      (seldom falls sick)
  • Cheerfulness, energy and enthusiasm,
  • Youthfulness
  • High threshold for stress,
  • Mental clarity
  • Creativity
  • Serenity

Signs of weakened Ojas:

Signs of a person with weak ojas :

  • Timid
  • Weak
  • Anxious
  • Depressed and       always worried
  • Lacks luster/poor complexion
  • Poor appetite
  • Feel sluggish/fatigued
  • Emaciated
  • Suffers from disorders of the sense organs.

What weakens Ojas?

Ojas is diminished by under eating, overeating, eating when previous food has not yet been digested, consumption of poor quality food that results in the blocking of the channels, consumption of stale foods, canned foods, fermented foods like cheese, meat, irregular diet, excessive exercise, fasting, negative emotional stressors such as anxiety, anger, sadness, grief, hatred, jealousy, long held resentment, fear, grief, consumption of alcohol, smoking,  lack of sleep, excessive discharge of mucus, blood, semen and other excreta, with age and injury by other organisms, undue exposure to wind and sun, excessive sexual activity.

What promotes or revitalizes Ojas?

Consumption of foods that share the same properties of Ojas help increase Ojas. Ojas has the 10 properties of sweet, cold, soft, unctuous, smooth, viscous, slimy, heavy, dull and clear.  Hence a balanced saatvik diet of fresh foods, cow’s milk, ghee, fruits, rice,  sweet foods like dates, natural seeds and nuts like almonds (soaked overnight and skin removed before eating on empty stomach), healthy eating habits, moderation in exercise and diet, and consumption of rasayans (like Chyawanprash) help promote or revitalize ojas. Bathing and use of gemstones also help revitalize ojas.

How can one protect Ojas?

Since Ojas is the result of the quality of food we eat, its proper digestion and efficient metabolism and the sensory impressions we imbibe in our daily life, in order to protect ojas it is vital to protect the mind and heart from emotional strain and stress and to adopt a healthy balanced diet.

  • Nourish your physical health by eating meals in a pleasant environment in the company of people that you enjoy.
  • Eat at a moderate pace. Don’t eat in a hurry, while walking or driving.
  • Don’t eat when you are emotional, angry, upset etc.
  • Don’t eat if the previous meal still hasn’t been digested as that will lead to the production of ama/toxins. The accumulation      of ama in the bodily tissues leads to disease.
  • Eat a balance meal.  In Ayurveda, a balanced meal consists of      all the 6 major tastes in moderation: sweet, salty, sour, bitter,      astringent, and pungent.  People of      pitta constitutions should minimize or avoid hot, pungent, spicy foods as      that will further aggravate the pitta (internal fire) which could further      burn out the ojas.
  • Nourish your mind through regular meditation
  • Positive thinking

For depleted Ojas:

Soak 10 almonds in water overnight.

Peel off the skins and discard. Blend almonds in blender.

Add a cup of hot milk*

Add a pinch of cardamom, a pinch of cardamom, a pinch of ginger powder and 1 tsp of ghee, saffron (optional)

Instead of date sugar one can use turbinado or brown sugar

This almond milk is great for building ojas.  Persons suffering from high cholesterol can skip ghee.

*Can substitute with soy or rice milk.

Or one can just chew the peeled almonds and drink a cup of warm milk if this seems like too much effort.

Tejas-The Spark of Radiance, Warmth, Glow and Brilliance 

What is Tejas?

Tejas is responsible for inner radiance, glow or aura, luster in one’s eyes, clarity, fearlessness, courage, intelligence, and understanding and comprehension at the cellular level.  It is the subtle and positive essence or counterpart of pitta or fire element in the body and is responsible for the digestion and metabolism of everything we take in. Tejas can be compared to hormones and amino acids that regulate cellular metabolism.

Hence tejas is needed for metabolism.  If tejas in a person is too high it burns out the ojas (just as fire evaporates water), as in the case with multiple sclerosis.  The myelin sheaths which are composed of ojas (water element) are burned by high tejas (fire element).

Negative thinking damages ojas, tejas, prana, immune system, the spleen, the function of the lymphatic system.  The thymus gland is located very close to the heart which is the seat of emotions.  Hence any negative emotional disturbance will affect the thymus. Gently tapping the sternum stimulates the thymus gland which in turn stimulates the immune system.

Tejas gets diminished by:

  • Excessive talking
  • Psychological /emotional imbalances
  • Negative thinking

For a healthy balance of tejas one should:

  • Enforce positive thinking.  Positive thinking strengthens ojas, tejas and prana and the thymus gland, which is responsible for a healthy  immune system and good health.
  • Meditate
  • Chant mantras
  • Try sitting in the meditation position, in a lotus pose as that helps open up the heart chakra, calms the breath and balances ojas, tejas and prana.
  • Practice awareness in thought, words and action
  • Avoid gossip, excessive talking, negative talk etc.

For a depleted tejas one should consume:

  • 1 pinch of trikatu which is -ginger, black      pepper, piper longum with 1 tsp of honey 15 minutes before eating a meal      as it kindles the agni (metabolism/digestive fire).
  • Chewing a small piece of ginger with some lemon      juice and salt sprinkled on it can help build tejas.
  • Bitter ghee is good for increasing tejas without      increasing pitta.1 tsp morning and evening on an empty stomach with ½ cup      warm water.

NOTE: People who suffer from excessive pitta or heat in the body should not consume the above.  Excessive pitta is marked by heat in the body, inflammation, boils, acne, ulcers, heartburn, indigestion, and negative emotions like anger, jealousy, anxiety, aggression, impatience, hate etc.  Instead one should avoid consuming foods that are inherently and temperature hot as they further aggravate pitta.  Hence avoid spicy, pungent foods, peppers, garlic, onions, sesame, coffee, tea etc.  Consuming foods and herbs that are cooling and sweet (not sugary, but inherently sweet like rice, wheat etc), will help bring pitta back to a healthy balance.  Chewing on fennel seeds, cardamoms, etc sipping warm herbal teas helps calm pitta.

PRANA-The Quanta of our Vitality and Energy

Prana is the vital life force or life breath and is the subtle essence of vata or air element.  It is responsible for life in an individual.  It is responsible for vitality and energy and the processes of respiration, circulation, digestion, excretion etc.

Heart chakra is described as a divine lotus with 12 petals that have Sanskrit letters. Prana lives in the heart along with past desires and egoism. The different modifications of this prana, results in ten principle types of pranas.

These are:

Pran- located in the heart chakra and responsible for respiratory and circulatory functions.

Apan-located in the root chakra and is responsible for elimination

Saman-located in the solar plexus chakra and responsible for digestion

Udana-located in the throat chakra and is responsible for sound

Vyan-located in the sacral chakra and is responsible for movement and circulation throughout the body?

Naga-responsible for eructation/burping

Kurma- responsible for opening eyes

Krikara-responsible for hunger and thirst

Devadatta-responsible for yawning

Dhananjay- responsible for hiccoughs/hiccups

Of these the first 5 are important ones and of them the first two-pran and apan are the most important. The heart is the seat of pran, the anus is the seat of apan, the navel region is the seat of samana, the throat is the seat of udana and vyan moves throughout the body. The remainder vayus, are in charge of functions like eructation (naga), opening eyes (kurma), hunger and thirst (krikira), yawning (devadatta) and hiccups (dhananjaya).

We imbibe prana when we breathe.  Hence, the reserves of prana can be increased by performing pranayam which leads to good health of mind and body.

Anulom Vilom increases the vital capacity of the lungs and helps purify the energy channels in the astral body. According to the Hatha Yoga Pradipika~ The body of a person whose energy channels or nadis are pure will be lean and glowing. Purification of nadis leads to good health.”

Bhastrika also known as bellows breath involves forceful inhalation followed by forceful exhalation. It is beneficial in cases of allergies, asthma. It makes the lungs strong. It should not be done during pregnancy and menstruation.  For people with high pitta/internal heat, sheetali is a better option.

Bhramari helps strengthen prana and is good for thyroid, thymus and the parathyroid glands. Bhramari means bee, so one makes the sound of a humming bee when performing this pranayam. One should close their ears with their thumbs, inhale and upon exhalation, simultaneously hum with the mouth closed.

While Bhastrika and Bhramari help increase prana, Shambhavi mudra can result in a quantum increase in prana.

Sitting in the lotus pose helps balance prana, ojas, tejas and helps open the heart chakra.

Being honest with our feelings and emotions builds prana, ojas and tejas.

According to David Frawley’s book, Yoga and Ayurveda, David Frawley –

“These three forces (ojas, tejas and prana) are interrelated. Prana and tejas are rooted in ojas and can be regarded as aspects of ojas. Tejas is the heat and light energy of ojas that has an oily quality and, like ghee can sustain a flame. Prana is the energy and strength that comes from ojas after it has been kindled into tejas. Ojas proper is the potential, the stamina of the mind and nervous system for holding tejas and prana. Ojas has the capacity to turn into tejas (heat), which has the capacity to turn into prana (electricity).”

Resources:

Secrets of The Pulse, Dr. Vasant Dattatray Lad

Charaka Samhita, Gabriel Van Loon

Yoga and Ayurveda, David Frawley

18 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. aditya
    Apr 25, 2013 @ 04:12:11

    good,useful information however ojas can never be built until one preserves the veerya.

    Reply

  2. yachna
    Apr 26, 2013 @ 15:15:53

    aditya: That has been briefly referred to under the sub topic “What weakens ojas”, but thanks for reiterating.

    Reply

  3. Shyamal
    Aug 12, 2013 @ 03:05:06

    Very useful…Thank you.

    Reply

  4. Mohit Butola
    Jun 10, 2014 @ 23:29:52

    Hello, myself suffering from retarded sleep since long time(about 3-4 yrs.) only about 5-6 hrs. or sometime less. I feel tired, confused, irritated, anxious, difficult to concentrate, disturbed digestion and difficult to remember the things. Please let me know first which constitution i belong to and plz suggest for some solution..

    Reply

    • yachna
      Jun 14, 2014 @ 22:30:07

      The best way to find your dosha by yourself is to complete a dosha quizzes online. Banyan botanicals has a good one. But based on what you described sounds like vata dosha. Meditate for 45 minutes daily in the evening. It will help with all the problems you mentioned. Also there is some good information in my article How to Effortlessly Increase your Threshold for Anger and Stress at Anmol mehtas website.

      Reply

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  8. chefjemichel
    Oct 16, 2016 @ 08:24:31

    Thank you Yachna very much for this abundant sharing!

    I’d like to think that “life, radiant health, strong immunity, vigor, longevity and overall well being …” would be an incentive for individuals to assure the “proper digestion and efficient metabolism of food” they consume. However, I don’t imagine people are being taught the importance of good digestion and the essential contributing factors in either school or at home. The most certainly aren’t being taught this watching television or at commercial food establishments. Therefore the need to learn these essentials must be tremendously vast, maybe incalculable? In any case it is wonderful to have your contribution here and to have Ayurveda acknowledged in the beautiful way that you have done here.

    Reply

    • yachna
      Oct 16, 2016 @ 08:33:17

      I agree Michel. Information like this used to be passed down from the elders to the children and so on. But today people get offended and take advice/ suggestions as an insult. It’s not just what we eat but how and when we eat. Growing up in India we are seasonal fruits and vegetables that were naturally available. What we eat should eat also depends on our body type. The exercises we do should also be done according to our body type. Thanks for your comment.

      Reply

  9. Deepan Raj
    Dec 01, 2016 @ 03:56:11

    Whenever i do tratak for some days i get acne, mouth ulcer and dry lips what is the reason for this symptoms

    Reply

    • yachna
      Dec 01, 2016 @ 13:22:10

      Deepan, trataka increases tejas or heat in the body. You need to make sure you drink plenty of water and also avoid foods in your diet that increases tejas. So avoid sour and hot spices, chili peppers, sesame, meat, alcohol, onion, garlic, honey, chai, coffee or any other foods, herbs etc that increase heat in body. Consume saunf, mishri, fresh coconut, coconut oil, ghee, dates, rice, wheat, sweet potato, kheer etc in moderation to increase ojas. Eat simple foods that have a watery gravy instead of dry sabzi. soak 10 almonds at night and next day peel and eat them with some milk. also soak sabza seeds i n water till they become gooey then add them to sherbets or milk shakes.

      Reply

  10. Deepan Raj
    Dec 02, 2016 @ 00:12:11

    So adding ojas will solve pitta problem?
    what kind of yoga or pranayama good for increase ojas

    Reply

    • yachna
      Dec 02, 2016 @ 07:38:08

      yes but also reducing pitta aggravating foods and practices. Most yogic practices increase tejas. Do them in moderation. No need to overdo unless you are a renunciate ascetic serious about the spiritual path. Serious practitioners have to be on a very simple and specific diet and have to live a very disciplined lifestyle. Cut down the length of the trataka. Chandrabhedi, sheetali and sheetkari help bring coolness to body but I wouldn’t recommend doing them immediately after trataka as you will be changing your bodies internal environment too rapidly. Its like taking a hot bath and then jumping into a river.

      Reply

  11. Deepan Raj
    Dec 02, 2016 @ 21:49:06

    Thank you Yachna, your tips are very helpful

    Reply

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  13. Milind Pol
    Apr 07, 2017 @ 01:01:55

    Yachna…this is a great read. Thank you for sharing valuable insights.

    Reply

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