Ayurveda and the vital essences

Ayurveda and the Subtle Energies of the Mind

Angela Glaz

Ayurvedic Specialist & 500 Hour E-RYT

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In Ayurveda, prana, tejas, and ojas are the subtle energies of the 3 Ayurvedic doshas (vata, pitta, kapha) that influence the mind. Just as being able to identify when one dosha is excess or depletion is important,  identifying and tuning into the subtle energies is just as important to achieve optimal health and vitality.

Prana

Prana is the vital life force in all of us. It is the subtle vata or air element, and is responsible for life. We practice pranayama, or breathing exercises, to tap into this energy within our bodies. Although identified with the breath, prana is also responsible for the processes of circulation, digestion, and excretion. Prana is found throughout the chakra system or the energy centers located in seven different spots running from the tailbone to the crown of the head.  

Tejas

Tejas is responsible for metabolism in the body. If it is too high, it burns out the ojas, like heat evaporating water. Physically, tejas can be thought of as hormones and amino acids that regulate cellular metabolism and food digestion. On a subtle level, tejas are related to one’s inner radiance. A person’s glow, clarity, fearlessness, intelligence, courage, and understanding is the subtle, positive essence in the body. This is the counterpart of pitta, or fire element.

Negative thinking, excessive talking, and emotional imbalances diminish tejas. This, in turn, damages the spleen, thymus, lymphatic, and immune system. If the tejas are out of balance, one should engage in positive thinking, meditation, mantra repetition, lotus posture, practice awareness, avoiding gossip and excessive talking, and consuming foods that are spicy or over stimulating.

Ojas

Ojas is the subtle essence that is responsible for life, radiant health, strong immunity, vigor, longevity and overall well-being. The heart is the physical organ of the ojas. From the heart, ten blood vessels (mahaphala) carry ojas to the rest of the body. Ojas is affected by not only the food we take in and healthy digestion, but also by the sensory impressions we take in. Therefore, it is important to protect the physical and emotional health of the heart.

Ojas also forms the basic material of the five sense organs, ligaments and lubricating fluids within the body. The subtle essence 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, and reproductive 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.

Ojas is diminished by undereating, 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 (cheese, meat), irregular diet, excessive exercise, fasting, negative emotional stress (anxiety, anger, sadness, grief, hatred, jealousy, long held resentment, fear, and 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.

A person with weak ojas will appear timid, weak, anxious, depressed and worried. They will have a poor complexion, poor appetite (or emotional eater), feel sluggish, fatigued, and may suffer from disorders of the sense organs.


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