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Burnout: You can’t fill your tank if you don’t have one

From an Ayurvedic perspective we need to build ojas. It's our vital energy that contains the other energies, the tank we fill for health to prevent burnout.

Ojas: the key to your body's battery life

These days everyone has had periods in their lives where they just needed to stop. Or maybe it wasn’t even a choice, and your body just did it for you. A burnout. Having been busy for too long, young kids, older kids, moving house, new job, illness or maybe even a combination of these. These periods of time where you need to recharge your battery, whether it’s your choice or not.

How do you do that, recharging those batteries? Is just resting enough or is there more to it?

As you might expect, from an Ayurvedic point of view there is more to it. It’s called ojas. Although rest does play a mayor roll. It is the 2nd of the 3 pillars of health as described by Ayurveda. The other 2 pillars are those of nourishment and energy management.

So what are ojas? What does that have to do with filling your tank and having one?

Ojas is your vital energy which acts as a container for the other vital energies. It actually enters into all the pillars of health. You get it from eating the right food that nourishes you and builds your body. The nourishment left at the end of building your body, which takes 40 days, will become ojas. It is also nourished as you rest well and your body has the time to do its recovery and maintenance. And ojas IS the energy that you need to manage. Don’t do too much of anything or you’ll deplete yourself of this vital life essence. So it is kind of a big and precious something.

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Burnout, it's all connected!

And as you can maybe guess if you’ve read my previous blogs, ojas is very connected to agni, the digestive fire. Because you can only nourish your body well if your agni is strong. And if you don’t rest well your agni suffers from that and you get stuck with more ama, the stuff that clogs your system, and depletes your ojas.

There is also prana, which you might know from the yogaworld. Your life force or life energy or however you want to call it. It’s the air you breathe that gives you energy that makes you feel lighter and is connected to the air element. You can get this energy directly from food. It’s easy to obtain. You need prana to live, it is essential, without prana there is no life. But if you only work on prana, you sort of overdose on the air element. And too much air element makes you floaty, ungrounded, unstable and lose focus (here we get into vata dosha).

Adding more prana can actually deplete you...

If you imagine prana as a liquid in a tank, if you keep adding prana, the bowl will overflow. That is not a good thing. The tank is the ojas, it’s the container that contains the prana. And this container isn’t fixed in its capacity, so that is why it is very important to build your ojas. The bigger your container is the more prana it can contain and the more batterylife you as a person have. This also explains why there is a limit to the amount of yoga and breathwork that is beneficial. If you create too much prana and it makes you unbalanced it can actually diminish your ojas and deplete you, isn’t that interesting?

Besides ojas and prana there is also tejas. The vital energy of fire which brings us wisdom and discernment. With this vital essence well nourished, our agni will be able to digest and transform our nourishment that keep you healthy. So you can maybe see how these 3 energies support your health and wellbeing.

Bottom line, your body needs quality nourishment and rest to be able to function well and prevent burnout.

Quality nourishment doesn’t only translate to quality food, but also loving company and touch, inner tranquility, having a sense of purpose.

Reset and kitchari!

Every autumn and spring it’s time to give the body some extra support with an Ayurvedic digestive reset. The one in autumn is just about 9 days, the spring one is about a month (read more about it here and here).
I was a bit apprehensive to start since my appetite had been weak and I hadn’t been feeling my strongest and most stable for a while. Thinking I needed to build instead of reduce, which is the idea behind the reset.
Reduce the accumulated ama and strengthen the digestive fire. But I got it mixed up, it was actually the best thing to do when feeling unstable (when agni is weak). Around day 3 of the monodiet (kitchari) my appetite came back, my bowel movements got better (yes Ayurveda and poo :)) and interestingly my mind became calmer the past 3 days.
Now obviously, I’ve been doing more than just a monodiet. I’ve also before and in the prep days received massages and practiced rest and bringing in more heaviness (as I shared in my previous blog here). Really bringing my feeling of scatteredness back towards more grounding.
But I did find it surprising that the simplicity of eating the same nourishing meal 4 times a day for 4,5 days was so beneficial. Even though from an Ayurvedic perspective it makes all the sense in the world. And actually not just from an Ayurvedic perspective. Because when life gets challenging/difficult/busy we NEED to simplify and doing daily simple practices (tongue scraping, movement, meditation, journalling, whatever works for you) and not worrying about food, while being nourished at the same time, are BIG things!
It’s all nothing new really, but now maybe with a better idea of how it works from an Ayurvedic perspective. Thank you Ayurveda for being such a great support and allowing me to experience and share all this wisdom 🙂