by Ann Wagoner
Many factors inspire people to detach from outside stressors and embark along the path of an inward search. The need isn’t new, and it’s been explored for over thousands of years by cultures around the world. But, where to begin the journey?
The ancient teachings of Ayurveda and Yoga are excellent conduits to guide us to deeper understanding. PCC’s Ayurvedic Yoga Health Advisor program combines ancient healing knowledge with contemporary applications about the inner workings of the mind, body and consciousness. When we can find our hearts and minds in a place of deep relaxation and vast awareness, we can discover our true potential and experience remarkable healing.
For an introduction to Ayurveda, Dr. Vasant Lad, Director of the Ayurvedic Institute, offers three key concepts in Ayurveda called Ojas, Tejas and Prana. These words represent key components of health that are meticulously addressed in Ayurveda, helping practitioners and students acquire balance and serenity in their lives.
Ojas is the pure essence of our bodily tissues. Someone with good Ojas rarely has disease. Just as ghee is the pure essence of milk, Ojas is the pure nectar of the human heart. It is refined from endocrine, nervous, skeletal, muscular, digestive and other systems and tissues and is rich in Soma, which gives a blissful state of consciousness. Ojas is developed when we rest, or restore and rejuvenate ourselves (instead of pushing ourselves too hard or multitasking). Ojas is associated with lunar cycles, softness, sweetness, grace and immortality. It is the pure essence of Kapha dosha, the constitution of spring, and associated with water element. Ojas is juiciness, vitality and immunity.
The essence of the digestive fire is Tejas, which manifests as enzymes, hormones and amino acids. It supports healthy cellular metabolism and is the luster of the eyes, cellular intelligence, shining skin, and the glow of the aura. Tejas gives strength, positive health, longevity, vital life force, good complexion and muscle tone. If Tejas is too high, it cannot perform the function of union because the cells are too dry. When Tejas is balanced, enthusiasm and joy for life bring the fullness of courage and laughter. It is the pure essence of Pitta dosha, the constitution of summer, and the fire element. It is the burning flame of pure intelligence and the sun’s illumination that heats the earth.
Prana is vital life energy - it governs movement and the senses – and enkindles bodily functions. It begins with awareness of the breath. The breath has qualities that are clear, subtle, light expansive and omnipresent and has qualities of Consciousness. It governs mind, memory, thoughts and emotions. From the heart, Prana enters the blood and controls oxygenation in all the tissues and vital organs. The breath bridges male and female energies, and Prana is both masculine and feminine. It is the vital force and the hypothalamus. It is solar and lunar, ha and tha, Hatha. Pranayama is to bring forth the eternal cosmic vibration through the breath. The movement of earth is governed by Prana. Prana is the pure essence of Vata dosha, the constitution of fall, and of the ether element.
Balancing Ojas, Tejas and Prana.
Ayurveda teaches that the human body has a divine energy and intelligence. A combination of Ojas, Tejas and Prana are the stepping stones to bliss, and balancing Tridosha is an important part of maintaining cellular health and longevity. Cultivating the perfect balance of Ojas, Tejas and Prana means one is not too heavy, heated nor distracted – one is in harmony with all.
Perhaps you’ve been feeling that world events out of your control are driving you to cultivate wisdom, compassion and meaningful action to heal yourself, others and the planet? Come learn about the concepts of Ayurveda and Yoga with Ann Wagoner with the Ayurvedic Yoga Health Advisor program, at Portland Community College. Completing this program qualifies students for Yoga Teacher Training.