Written by Rhian Hunter
If you attended one of my last two workshops you would have heard me talk about the importance of effective elimination and proper digestion for optimal beauty, since your digestive system is responsible for breaking down and assimilating all of those skin hydrating and glowing nutrients you take in from specific foods. So if you want to reap the benefits in every bite of nutrient dense food, healthy digestion will allow you to do that.
According to Ayruveda, our inner glow is fuelled by Ojas (pronounced oh-jus), one of the three subtle forces in our body. Think of ojas as the container that holds your abundant energy. It is the the most refined by-product of digestion, the ultimate energy reserve of the body and mind, and the seat of our immune system.
Ojas is like the body’s natural honey: it is the delicate and refined essence we produce from the plants and other vital essences that we take in.
If you think that some 20,000 bees per hive collect the nectar of thousands of flowers and concentrate them into honey – this is the ojas of the flowers. Ojas energy is described as the end product of good physical and emotional digestion, when you have fully assimilated nutrients and processed your life experiences.
You know that glow and the radiant physical beauty that some of us seem to possess effortlessly? We often see that kind of radiance as an elusive quality, but if it’s deepened by ojas, and ojas is made through digestion, it follows that every one of us can nourish that glow within ourselves.
The presence of ojas is an inner vitality so compelling, and a complexion so lustrous, that our attractiveness transcends all modes of fashion and all popular ideals. It is not imaginary and not something we can fake for very long, even with the best makeup.
The classical Ayurvedic texts state that it takes 27–30 days to build ojas, once all seven dhatus—the tissues responsible for the functioning of the systems and organs of the body—are fed and nourished. So while chewing and digesting your greens may take less than 24 hours, it takes a lot more time for your body to benefit from the gifts of those greens.
Like a savings account, you can make deposits, or you can make withdrawals.
Your Ojas balance becomes depleted when you extend your body beyond its ideal range of function. This includes not getting enough sleep and/or proper rest, dissonant thoughts and emotions, taking part in too many stimulating activities, excessive stress over an extended period of time, eating too little or too much, not chewing food correctly or always eating on the run.
Modern science supports this concept. For instance, research has shown that stress, poor diet, and lack of sleep have tangible effects on skin tone and elasticity, and the health of our hair and nails. Stress and sleep loss increase the production of the hormone cortisol, triggering inflammation that breaks down collagen, a protein that keeps skin firm and smooth.
Cortisol is also linked to acne. Dermatologists prescribe stress management to help treat skin conditions like rosacea or psoriasis because when pro-inflammatory stress hormones are reduced, it aids in recovery and limits recurrence of skin problems. The very same can be said about building up and/or protecting your ojas.
So how can you increase ojas?
Eat a diet rich in ojas building foods such as: Ghee, medjool dates, apricots, apples, bananas, berries, figs, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, walnuts, avocados, dark leafy greens, lettuce, parsley, coriander, sweet potato, spinach, watercress, turnips, zucchini, amaranth, basmati rice, steel cut oats, quinoa, buckwheat, moong dal, tofu, soy milk, coconut water, coconut meat, coconut oil, olive oil, turmeric, ginger + saffron, ashwaghanda (just to name a few).
Practice Yoga (asana, pranayama and meditation) on a daily basis. Stress is one of the biggest contributors to decreased ojas.
Set your sleep rhythm by going to bed at the same time each night, getting about eight hours of sleep, and waking up at the same time every day.
Nourish your senses with nature and the arts.
Spend time with loved ones, and avoid harsh and negative people.
Protecting that vibrant life force and filling up your inner reserve is Ayurveda’s key to cultivating authentic beauty and finding your inner glow. And the best part about having ample ojas? is that it encourages peace and contentment; which is the real source of beauty.