When I first heard the word ‘ojas’ I thought the teacher said OJ and that OJ or orange juice was what created our vital energy. Needless to say, I was pretty new to yoga at the time and my then teacher liked to sprinkle these evocative Sanskrit words throughout our class. All these odd sounding unfamiliar sanskrit words sounded intriguing and mysterious.
I have since discovered that ojas translates as ‘vigour’, ‘verve’, ‘well being’ or ‘essence of vitality’. Essentially, ojas is your vital energy that rules your immunity, strength, and happiness. And of course these are three things we all want in abundance. when our ojas is strong we are bouncy and sparkle in our lives – life is easy. When our ojas is weak, our health, our spirits, and our energy flag and we struggle with simple daily tasks.
Luckily, Ayurveda offers us simple ways to rebuild it through the foods we choose to eat.
FOOD IS MEDICINE.
Naturally, there are other ways to support ojas building like resting and sleeping enough, spending time outdoors in nature, and ensuring we have adequate quiet time to simply sit and reflect.
How to build ojas in your body through food?
According to the Ayurveda tradition, your food is your medicine. Simple right! And we all know this deep in our hearts, deep in our cells. The qualities of ojas are sweet, heavy, unctuous, cool, and smooth. It makes sense then to include these types of foods in your diet. In essence ojas-building foods are fresh, sweet (naturally sweet not sugar sweet) and juicy. Foods that embody these qualities are wholefoods like avocados, bananas, dates, figs, sweet potatoes, yams, turnips, leafy greens, zucchini, nuts (in particular almonds), mung beans, tofu and whole grains.
And that my friend is where the two little balls of bliss recipes below come in. A simple and easy way to add OJAS to your day.
Interestingly in the light of the current raw food fad, there are also foods to avoid dry, raw, and under cooked foods, tinned, frozen, fried, or old foods, alcohol, stimulants, refined sugar and flours, and of course, heavily processed foods.
Do you have high or low ojas?
Signs of high ojas on a purely physical level are a glowing complexion, a sparkle in your eyes, physical strength, energy, sharp sensory organs, no aches and pains, robust health and immunity, a lightness in body and mind. On a mental or emotional level high ojas will show itself in mental clarity and focus, creativity and vitality, a profound sense of well-being, and of course, happiness and joy.
The signs of low Ojas, which we all probably have at some point or another, are physically dry skin, cold feet and hands, weak sense organs (for example, sensitivity to light and sound), impaired bodily functions (for example, constipation), muscle and/or joint pain, a heaviness in body and mind, drowsiness and fatigue, a tendency to be sick frequently. Mentally and emotionally low ojas shows up in mental confusion or fuzziness, a lack of focus (easily distracted), consistent negative thoughts, anxiety and depression.
- 3/4 cup (115g) dried figs
- 3/4 cup (130g) dates
- 1/2 cup (95g) dried apricots
- 1/2 cup (60g) pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted
- 1/2 cup (65g) sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup (70g) white sesame seeds
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 tsp of ginger
- a pinch of ground cloves
- 1 pinch mineral salt
- 1 tbl fresh organic orange zest
- 1/8 to 1/4 cup extra virgin, cold-pressed olive or coconut oil
- Optional: 1/3 cup whole white sesame seeds, ground flax seeds, or shredded dried coconut to coat the finished balls
- Cover the dried fruits with hot water. Soak for 5 minutes.
- Lightly toast the pumpkin seeds.
- Transfer to a bowl. Allow to cool.
- Separately grind the sunflower seeds and the sesame seeds into a coarse powder.
- Grind the pumpkin seeds once they have cooled.
- Add the cardamom, ginger, cloves and salt to the seeds and combine well.
- Drain the dried fruits, reserving the soaking water for another use (such as drinking it on an empty stomach).
- In a food processor add the soaked dried fruit and the orange zest to the ground seed mixture.
- Process until coarse crumbs and add the oil.
- Roll into balls. Roll in sesame/flaxsee/coconut if desires.
- Store in an air tight container the fridge.
Date, Fig and Mint Ojas Balls
- 1 cup (160 g0 of Medjool dates
- 1 cup (150 g) of figs
- 7/8 cup (125 g) of almonds
- 2 tbl of organic raw coconut oil (use another oil if you don’t like coconut … one without too much flavour)
- 1- 2 tbl of reserved liquid from soaked dates
- 1/2 tsp of pure mint extract
- Soak dates and figs in hot water for 5 minutes.
- Grind up almonds until finely chopped.
- Drain the dried fruits. Add dates, figs, peppermint oil and coconut oil. Add some of the reserved water if the mixture is too stiff. Roll into balls and roll in cacao.