Yoga Energetics for Athletes - The Vital Essences

The Candle: Ojas, Tejas, Prana

Many athletes have mastered the physical ability to bring intensity to a sport. But what if there is something to be gained by making sure that you are also filling up your reservoir of energy so that you have something to draw upon when vigorous action is necessary? What if we were able to understand when it was time to stoke the fire within a little brighter? Or, maybe we are looking to grow our abilities and integrate our experiences. This is where our Ojas, Tejas and Prana come in. 

Ojas, Tejas and Prana are considered to be counterparts to the three doshas - Vata, Pitta and Kapha. What are doshas? Doshas are part of the Indian healing system of Ayurveda. As the ancient Indian tradition of Ayurveda states, the doshas are constitutions, which everyone is born with. The doshas represent physical and mental qualities of a person and they create awareness of our potential imbalances. If we know the areas that we are most prone to become imbalanced in, then we can take herbs, stay away from certain foods and give preference to certain physical activities to ensure that we stay in balance and maintain our health. The subtle counterparts to these doshas - as I was saying - are prana, tejas, and ojas. 

Considered the three vital essences, we are able to tap into these forces to create vitality: health, well-being and creativity. 

For our purposes here, by understanding these three essences, we can better tune in to which of the three practices is best for us at different times and why. 

Ojas is primal vigor. It is the subtle energy of water. Building on this vital essence creates a reservoir that sustains physical and mental endurance. We develop increased peace, confidence and patience when we invest in building up our ojas. When we wish to build ojas we must calm our nervous system. We can do this in part by shutting ourselves off to sensory stimulation. Another way to build Ojas is to focus on love and devotion. 

Tejas is inner radiance. It is what governs our ability to take in our world through our senses and integrate that into our body and mind. When Tejas is cultivated it increases courage, fearlessness and insight. 

Prana is considered the primal life force that supports enthusiasm, creativity, adaptability and joy. Prana gives us the energy to make changes. To build prana it is beneficial to enjoy nature. You can nurture this energy through expansive meditations that focus on space.

If you visualize a candle, the ojas is the oil for our candle. It gives us the ability to sustain a flame and the endurance to maintain it. Tejas is the flame that radiates heat.  The prana is the oxygen, the electricity that sparked the candle and made it  ignite.

This metaphor allows us to see the interrelationship of these three vital essences. The goal of these three energies is to increase them. When we do, we ultimately support renewal and transformation on all levels of our being. However, it is important to ensure that you increase them at the same rate so that they are all in equilibrium. 

You may begin to see how each of these essences relates to finding the yoga practice that is right for you. Have you just performed in a championship game and your body-mind needs some nourishment? Then do an Ojas building practice. Have you been needing a little more enthusiasm and energy to think on your feet? Then choose to cultivate more prana. And, if you are trying to grow as an athlete and cultivate more calmness under pressure, I suggest doing a tejas building practice. Later on, when we describe each of the three yoga sequences in this practice for athletes there will be a mention of which vital essence is being built up in the sequence. Choose which one is right for you. 

References: 

     Yoga & Ayurveda: Self-healing and Self-Realization, David Frawley

     Sri Yoga Teacher Training 2013, Lecture and Manual

Read the Entire Series:

Introduction

The Candle: Ojas, Tejas, Prana

The Sunrise and the Sunset of  the Gunas

Sequence 1: Balancing

Sequence 2: Ease in Effort

Sequence 3: Awareness

 

 

Sari Stankowski

Sari Gelzer is a yoga teacher and online media consultant based in San Francisco, CA.