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If you’ve heard about Ayurveda, you’ve likely heard a lot of talk about the three doshas (vata, pitta, and kapha), which are the unique combinations of elements that are the building blocks of our bodies and the world around us.
What you may not know, is that each dosha has a subtle partner that operates on the level of the psyche.
They are called, prana, tejas and ojas, and are collectively referred to as the “three vital essences.”
While the Sanskrit terminology may feel unfamiliar and even intimidating, as you learn about these concepts you are likely to discover you already have an intimate relationship with them, or at the very least, have observed them operating (or not operating at their fullest potential), in your life.
A candle serves as a wonderful metaphor for the ways these essences manifest in relationship to one another: the wax that sustains the flame is ojasthe flame itself is tejas, and the energy and light extending beyond the flame is prana.
Learning about these concepts can empower us to actively make changes in our lifestyle. These changes can grow the presence of these vital essences in sacred balance to truly light up our lives with a strong and resilient flame that shines far beyond our reach.
Getting to know our vital essences
Vata (comprised of air and ether) is associated with prana, a concept often referred to in the yoga community as “life force energy.”
You know that fresh, full breath of ocean air that seems to fill every inch of your lungs and soul? That spark of creativity? A sensation of pure excitement and ecstasy for life itself? These are all examples of prana.
While it is deeply connected to breath, it is, on a more subtle level, responsible for the harmony of the mind and the increasing unfoldment of higher states of consciousness. It is also associated with the enthusiasm that propels us on the path of Self-Realization.
Pitta (comprised of fire and water) is associated with Tejas, which can be conceived as your vital radiance.
You know that glow that shines from the center of your soul after a nourishing vacation, a trip to the spa, or after spending sweet time with your beloved? The glow of a beautiful pregnant woman? This is tejas.
In addition to helping us digest everything we consume (not only our food, but also words, images, thoughts and experiences), this radiant flame of tejas is responsible for our perception (not only what we perceive directly through the physical senses, but what we perceive from higher planes of awareness such as our intuition).
It is also associated with an inner sense of courage and the ability to transmute fear and anxiety.
Kapha (comprised of water and earth) is associated with Ojas, which is often referred to as primal endurance.
You know the patience and persistence that grows when you are truly devoted to reaching a dream? Or the confidence that comes from complete trust in the perfection of this present moment? These are examples of ojas.
It is the vigor whose power stems from everything that we digest throughout the day. It also nourishes all our higher psychological faculties such as memory, reason and imagination.
Learning to support our vital essence
Unlike the doshas, which are best balanced according to our individual constitutions, we can all benefit from building an equal balance of prana, tejas and ojas.
The key is to focus on nurturing each of these qualities rather than focusing on only one of them.
Too strong of a flame will too quickly burn through the wax, while too much wax will result in a small flame and dull light.Yet when all of the essences grow in balance, the result is a brilliantly bright, unwavering, eternal flame.
Here are some simple practices you can integrate into your daily routine to build your vital essences and shine your light in the world:
To increase prana: breathe! take some time throughout the day to pause and check in with your breath. Allow yourself to come back to slow, mindful, deep belly breaths, or work with pranayama exercises such as alternate nostril breathing and kapalbhati to uplift prana.
To increase tejas: concentrate! Focusing on a specific object, internal or external, helps to refine and grow our tejas. Concentrate on the light of a candle, an affirmation, truth or mantra that resonates with your spirit. If the mind wanders, gently bring it back to the object to cultivate single-pointed awareness.
To increase ojas: love More! In the vedic tradition, the path of devotion is known as bhakti. Do things that you love with unconditional love! The heart is the energetic source of our resilience, faith and peace. Tapping into this center through practices such as bhakti supports the development of ojas.
Practice these 3 regularly and your light will be sure to be burning bright with the essence of vitality!