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Ayurveda Theory and Philosophy
Dhatus and Ojas
Ojas is the essence of the body. It means “that which invigorates,” and it is the substance that supports our immune system and psycho-emotional resiliency. It keeps us youthful, vital, and radiant.
Ayurveda describes the production of Ojas as a 30-day digestive refinement, so it is the finest product from the food we eat. Just as ghee (clarified butter) is refined from butter, which is refined from cream, which is refined from milk, so Ojas is refined from progressive transformations of our bodily tissues.
When digestion is compromised, so is the production of Ojas. Healthy stores of this refined substance begin with healthy Agni in the digestive system, and then the proper functioning of Agni in the liver, and on through the Agnis of the tissues of our body.
Ayurveda describes seven Dhatus or tissues that are built sequentially over a 30-day period, culminating in the production of small amounts of the most refined Ojas when functioning properly.
- First, food is digested by Agni in the mouth and stomach, with the usable portion absorbed through the small intestine and the waste forms the stool and excreted.
- Next, this usable portion passes on to the liver and is acted on by another Agni, breaking it down further into its elemental qualities.
- The first tissue formed is known as Rasa Dhatu, or plasma, and a small amount of a less refined Ojas along with a waste product are released during each stage of dhatu formation.
- Next, a portion of the plasma is acted on by another Agni to form the blood tissue, or Rakta Dhatu.
- The next Agni transforms a portion of the blood into muscle tissue, or Mamsa Dhatu.
- The Agni of Medha Dhatu acts on a portion of the muscle to create fat tissue.
- Asthi Dhatu‘s Agni converts a portion of the fat to bone tissue.
- A portion of the bone is transformed into nerve tissue by the Agni of Majja Dhatu.
- The Agni of the Shukra Dhatu acts on a portion of the nerve tissue to create reproductive fluid. This is the most refined tissue in the body with the most accumulated Ojas.
- The final product is called “Supreme Ojas” and is released and stored in the heart nourishing the body, mind, and emotions.
Depletion of Ojas
- Ojas is depleted when digestion is faulty, as well as living a life that is filled with excess stress and activity.
- Stress creates acidity, disrupting the formation of Rasa Dhatu which is optimally produced in an alkaline environment.
- Stress generates inflammation and toxicity in the blood, disrupting the formation of Rakta Dhatu.
- The Mamsa Dhatu is depleted through a lack of sleep, excessive exercise, and exhaustion.
- Stress can cause the body to draw on fat resources and deplete the Medas Dhatu.
- Chronic acidity and inflammation can cause a loss of minerals from the bones, depleting the Asthi Dhatu.
- Stress directly affects the nervous and hormonal systems, depleting the Majja Dhatu.
- Excessive sex (for your Dosha type) depletes the Shukra Dhatu.
Restoration of Ojas
Ojas is restored through proper digestion and a lifestyle that reduces and reverses the depleting effects of stress:
- Friendship, support, and loving relationships
- A sense of humor, perspective, and lightness
- Living boldly, and doing what is meaningful for you
- Proper breathing, Yoga, and meditation
- Time in Nature
- Healthy eating, sleeping, and daily routines outlined in Everyday Practices