The last few weeks have been as stressful as they have been sweet, and as many times as we’ve wanted to flop on the floor and have a tantrum, we’ve been reminded of how grateful we are to be here, doing this, stretching our bodies, breathing in and breathing out.
But still: there are times when we wish there were a magic potion we could take that would instantly improve our sense of well-being, boost our energy and mental state.
While not a potion exactly, there are three Ayurvedic tricks, it turns out, that can revitalize and rebuild our vital energy reserves (aka Ojas in Sanskrit.) With some simple preparation, these three tricks can add a lot of comfort and sustenance without a lot of time or effort.
The easiest way to increase Ojas is to add certain foods to your everyday diet.
When feeling depleted, bust out the ghee (clarified butter); increase dates, raisins, and seeds; and soaked, peeled almonds. These ingredients can top your toasts and cereal, be plopped into or onto your stews and soups, or be eaten out of hand (well, maybe not the ghee. That would be messy without a spoon 😲).
One of the principles we appreciate about Ayurveda is its emphasis on quality — not just on the quality of the ingredients we purchase and savor, but also on the quality of the environment that surrounds us when we enjoy them. How you eat your meals is just as important as what you eat. The way you shop for groceries, the way you prepare your meal, the way you sit down to eat it — ALL of this fills your Ojas tank.
(By the way, we don’t know if a pastel de nata is Ayurvedically kosher, or if it builds Ojas, but we savored the Portuguese tartelette slowly, and it cheered us up. It came from Pastelaria Belem which is an authentic Portuguese café and bakery in the 17e. We drank a coffee and ate the warm pastel with cinnamon sprinkled on top. Does the cinnamon count, ayurvedically? We think so!)
Meditation is another ingredient for healthy levels of Ojas. Again, this is easy to accomplish if you focus on quality, not quantity. Just try 3 to 5 minutes. If you can only do 1 minute, do 1 minute! SOME meditation is always better than NO meditation. Just focus on your breath moving in and out. When your mind wanders, simply bring it back to your breath.
An Ojas-building yoga practice will also nourish you inside and out. Rather than running through strenuous sequences, relax into supported poses and forward bends.
Yoga Nidra is probably the least demanding yoga technique on the planet as the only thing it requires of you is time.
A tremendous practice for building up your Ojas is Yoga Nidra which will guide you toward physical and mental replenishment without your having to “do” anything. No time to attend an in-person class? Search for one online and do it at home. We like Marc Holzman’s sessions on YogaGlo (in English) or Anne Vandewalle’s on YogaPlay (in French.) Additionally, there are many FREE options on YouTube, Vimeo and social media platforms, as well as on apps like InsightTimer.
Why we love Yoga Nidra: it is probably the least demanding yoga technique on the planet as the only thing it requires of you is time. You lay down, close your eyes and let the teacher talk you through a relaxing meditation for 20-30 minutes.
Honestly the hardest part of doing Yoga Nidra is finding a teacher whose voice you trust. Because your eyes will be closed and you will be guided solely by words and images, a teacher’s voice and language is vitally important. You have to be able to surrender 💯 to the relaxation so make sure you like the voice and it makes you feel held or safe.