It is warming and grounding, brings you out of the ethers into your body and close to your one and only. Sexuality is the root of human vitality, creativity and overall wellness. To enhance longevity, Ayurveda uses root vegetables and herbs that enhance and protect sexuality.
Ayurveda, the ancient science that originated in India, brought us gurus, vegetarian cooking, TM meditation and yoga. People who practice classical Ayurveda gear their diet, daily activities and prayers in accordance with the elements and positive energies of the universe. That includes the belief that there is a time and a way that sex is best enjoyed and produces the most health benefits.
Sex and the Doshas
Vata, Pitta, Kapha are the energies that motivate growth and give shape and vitality to our body/mind/consciousness. How might sex affect your dosha? How does your dosha impact your sexual experience?
Does sex make you feel:
- Hyper, nervous, feel more desire, insomniac, depressed? (Vata)
- Romantic, aggressive, hot/dry, frustrated? (Pitta)
- Relaxed, sleepy, comforted, hungry? (Kapha)
Of course our sexuality depends upon many things, including our wellness, energy level and our relationship with our partner. This blog may help you to feel your best so that you may better enjoy the full health and beauty benefits of sexuality. In general, foods and herbs that balance the doshas will affect sexuality as all other aspects of health. What is required of each dosha?
- Vata needs warming, grounding, nourishing foods and herbs to protect nerves and joints.
- Pitta needs cooling, moistening foods and herbs in order to reduce inflammation and protect sexual fluids, skin and hair
- Kapha feels well with spicy foods, exercise, less obsession and more sex
According to Ayurveda, sex leads to the build-up of Vata dosha
Vata is the subtle energy associated with movement — composed of Space and Air. It governs breathing, blinking, muscle and tissue movement, pulsation of the heart, and all movements in the cytoplasm and cell membranes. In balance, vata promotes creativity and flexibility of mind and body. Out of balance, vata produces fear and anxiety, spasm and joint pains. Vata can resemble a nervous wind, with hyper energy and chronic aches that are made worse with cold weather, stimulants, insomnia and overwork.
Sex and Vata
Excess vata can be provoked by strongly stimulating, drying and/or cold foods and it is seasonal. Thus, the best time to have sex is during the day is when vata energy is lower, in the morning after sunrise but before the clock strikes 10 or during early evening. Night time, when most of us have time and prefer having sex, is not ideal. When vata’s nervous energy is too high, sex may interfere with digestion or sleep. According to Dr. Vasant Lad, the doyen of classical Ayurveda who lives and teaches in New Mexico, the times of day when the doshas are most important to recognize are:
- Kapha is high in the morning and early evening (slower metabolism, water retention, phlegm; exercise is recommended and sex is ok)
- Pitta is high at noontime (heat or inflammation/dehydration are likely)
- Vata is high at night (nervous excess may lead to exhaustion of energy, fluids and Spirit or inner calm)
Few modern people are aware of seasonal rhythms of earth and human energy. However Ayurveda advises that the ideal seasons to have more sex ( 3-5 times a week) are winter and early spring when kapha is high and we have body fluids to spare. During summer and fall, the influence of vata (nervous energy and dehydration) increases. Thus, Ayurveda recommends reducing the frequency of sex and orgasms (1 time a week or every other week) because the seasonal heat already depletes the body of rasa (sexual fluids, hormones) for sexual pleasures. But there is a way! Fortunately, there are simple methods and materials to enhance and protect sexual vitality and increase joy. You don’t have to fly to India and be massaged with ghee.
What are Ojas and how to have more
The Sanskrit word ojas describes our vitality, which is often described as radiance similar to the light of the moon. According to Ayurveda, healthy people have abundant ojas, the vital essence that promotes health, immunity, happiness and spiritual strength. When our ojas is depleted, we are left vulnerable to aging, illness and even premature death. In the ancient Ayurvedic texts, it states that if your ojas is abundant, you can live happily for a hundred years.
How’s your Ojas?
Signs of abundant ojas are clear, radiant eyes, lustrous hair, glowing skin, a strong immune system, a positive outlook on life, joy, mental clarity and compassion. Signs of depleted ojas are dry skin, cold hands and/or feet, constipation, anxiety, pain, mental fogginess, negativity, loneliness and fatigue.
Ancient wisdom from the Vedas, ancient philosophical/religious texts, tells us that through the self-loving practices of pranayama (breathing practices), spiritual discipline and tantric techniques, we can transform our ojas into spiritual strength. This quality is palpable in an individual who has nurtured him/herself through “Deep Self-love.”
What does “Deep Self Love” mean?
It is not self-congratulation or praise. Self love in Ayurveda refers to daily health practices that lead to mental and spiritual peace, tranquility, abundant health, generosity and kindness for all humans, creatures and the planet; it is a world view of equanimity that we experience as wisdom.
Simple daily acts of self-love to increase ojas:
1) Eat Ojas Building Foods
Fresh, organic, sun-ripened whole foods contain the most ojas-building energy. Your local farmers market will have the best selection. Avoid refined, processed, canned and frozen foods as the vitality of these foods is limited. Avoid alcohol and stimulants, as these are ultimately drying and irritating to the body tissues.
Ojas-building beverage: Whip together milk, ghee, rice, dates, and soaked, peeled almonds,
Here are more Ojas-rich Foods:
- Fruits: avocados, apples, bananas, dates, figs and apricots.
- Vegetables: leafy greens, lettuce, parsley, sprouts, okra, sweet potatoes, yams, rhubarb, spinach, turnips, watercress and zucchini.
- Grains: amaranth, basmati rice, oatmeal, quinoa and whole wheat.
- Legumes: moong dal (split mung bean), soy beans, soy milk and tofu.
- Dairy: goat cheese, cottage cheese and fresh yogurt.
- Nuts: almonds, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pine nuts, pistachios and walnuts.
- Healthy fats and oils: Ghee (clarified butter), olive oil and coconut oil.
- Herbs to Enhance Your Ojas.
Herbs are nature’s healers. They are packed full of compounds, vitamins and minerals that our body needs to build ojas. Ayurveda has hundreds of healing herbs to heal and support vitality. Here are a few rejuvenating herbs to add to your diet. They may be enjoyed as tea or added to cooking. Specific sexual tonics are described later:
- Amla, a cherry is a source of important tannins and vitamins
- Basil spreads energy throughout the body, reduces high cholesterol and depression
- Brahmi, strengthens mind and memory, and helps heal nervous disorders
- Cardamom is a heart and digestive tonic that improves mood
- Ginger, hot in action, helps decrease the aggravated vata and kapha doshas and therefore helps to fight infections as well as boost ojas, which enhances immunity.
- Turmeric supports the health of all the three doshas or the basic humors of the body: vata, pitta and kapha. For this reason, turmeric is recommended in a large variety of ailments and it is also used as a potent ojas-enhancing and immunity-boosting herb.
- Licorice is a naturally revitalizing herb that strengthens the body. The root powder taken with honey and ghee is recommended to support immunity. Avoid use with hypertension.
- Ashwagandha increases ojas by restoring energy levels and delays the process of aging. Ashwagandha is regarded as a natural stimulator and rejuvenator for muscles, nerves and memory.
- Nourish Ojas with Daily Lifestyle Choices
Ayurveda encourages rhythms that are in balance and harmony with our planet so we are living with nature rather than against it. Here are some methods that encourage a healthy lifestyle:
- Get regular exercise, but not to excess as this can be upsetting to your state of balance. Gentle stretching, yoga and walking are healing because we participate in nature or our home environment without strain and competition.
- Set your sleep rhythm by going to bed at the same time each night, getting about eight hours of sleep, and waking up at the same time every day. Sleep is not a waste of time. It improves memory and the senses.
- Nourish your senses with nature and the arts. Surround yourself with color and texture, beautiful music, incense or essential oils, and pleasant sights.
- Spend time with loved ones and avoid harsh and negative people.
- Things to avoid: multi-tasking, sensory overload, excessive sex, chronic stress, harsh winds and extreme temperatures.
- Practice Yoga and Meditation Daily
Chronic stress is one of the biggest contributors to decreased ojas. Luckily, humanity has been blessed with the practices of yoga and meditation. You can boost your vitality by practicing asana, pranayama and meditation on a daily basis. If you are new to these practices, starting gently and slowly is the best act of self-love.
- Practicing 15 to 45 minutes of yoga asana daily will move all of your joints and increase your range of motion. It will also help you increase your strength, balance and resiliency. “Ending yoga practice with at least five minutes of Savasana will guide your internal compass to your divine light.” Savasana, lying still (the corpse pose) allows the body to absorb and integrate the benefits of your practice into your muscle memory, mind and nervous system. It allows the physical body (heart rate, blood pressure etc) and nervous system to return to baseline. It feeds into our practice.
- Love yourself with abundant prana! What is prana? In Hindu philosophy including yoga, Ayurveda and Indian martial arts, prana is the Sanskrit word for breath, “life force” that permeates reality on all levels including inanimate objects. Prana connects you with universal love.
- Daily practice of deep diaphragmatic breathing increases your ojas by supplying abundant life energy in the form of prana. It helps to detoxify the body as you exhale completely. Plus, with practice, this deep and balanced rhythm of breathing becomes your “norm.”
- When deep, balanced breathing becomes part of your routine, the effects of stress are significantly decreased. With every cycle of the breath, you infuse your body with life-giving energy and detox the tissues.
- Use the antidote to stress. Daily meditation. One of the most powerful meditation practices, which is especially helpful to beginners, is japa, or the repetition of a mantra. Japa helps to anchor the busy mind into a single focus. The “so hum” mantra is simple because it is only two words, but it holds great meaning. The translation is “I am that” or simply, “I am.” Close your eyes and breathe deeply for several minutes. Then, focusing your attention at the brow center, mentally say the word “so” on an inhalation and mentally say the word “hum” on an exhalation. Continue repeating this mantra in coordination with your breath for at least five minutes. This meditation will build ojas and align your mind to your deepest truth. The simple practice and prayers for the benefit of all beings is a lovely way to encourage restful sleep.
- Daily Self Massage
In Sanskrit, the word for oil and the practice of applying oil to the body, is called Snehana, which means love. By giving yourself the gift of daily self massage with high quality, warm, organic, unrefined oil, you are giving yourself love.
- Each night before you go to bed, place a few drops of oil on the very top of your head, in the ears and in the center of both hands and feet. Anointing these marma points is an act of rich self-love as you intentionally clear the emotional charges from the experiences of the day and consciously prepare yourself for a restful night’s sleep.
- In the morning before bathing, massage a few ounces of oil all over your body with special attention to the joints and any places that you may be feeling any discomfort. Then bathe with warm water using natural soap on the “hairy parts” of your body.If you know your prakriti (constitution), you can choose an oil appropriate for your dosha: Vata, Pitta, Kapha.
- Vata: use a warm, heavy oil such as sesame, or almond
- Pitta: use a cooling or neutral oil like olive, sunflower, coconut, or ghee.
- Kapha: use a light oil such as mustard, flaxseed, or safflower.
Ayurvedic Sexual Tonic Herbs
As you have gathered by now, sexuality in Ayurveda impacts many aspects of health and beauty. The tonics that are recommended for male and female sexual rejuvenation are longevity tonics that improve hormone balance, vitality and mood. Below are a few. Ayurvedic herbs are sold as powders (churna), pills and oils.
How to us churnas (herbal powders)
- Vata or older persons: mix with warm water or milk
- Pitta add to ghee
- Kapha add to honey
- The oils are used for massage.
A Female Threesome: Shatavari, Bala, Ashoka
These three herbs are often suggested together like a female deity to help balance and restore feminine sexuality. As rejuvenating tonics they can also be helpful for men. They are useful for most people but may act especially well for these doshas:
- Shatavari: cooling, calming to balance Vata & Pitta
- Bala oil: anti-inflammatory to pacify Vata, Pitta & Kapha
- Ashoka: balances Pitta
Shatavari (Asparagus racemosus) is a rejuvenating herb that cools the body and strengthens and nourishes the tissues. Traditionally used to maintain the healthy production of female hormones. As a nutritive tonic it encourages the healthy production of milk in lactating mothers and the healthy production of semen in would be fathers. It is also useful during menopause and for women who have had hysterectomies. Shatavari supports a healthy immune system and assists in both physical and mental digestion. Its moistening quality soothes and nurtures the lungs, stomach, kidneys, and reproductive organs. Shatavari promotes healthy libido and fertility.
Used Externally as an Oil to Support Muscle Health & Comfort
- Promotes muscular comfort
- Tones the muscle tissue
- Calms the nerves
- Strengthens and energizes the body
Bala’s name means “strength” alluding to its power to strengthen and energize the body. As a common ingredient in Ayurvedic massage oils, it tones the muscles, calms the nerves, and helps support muscle health and comfort.
Ashoka is a traditional uterine tonic herb that supports healthy menstruation
- Strengthens and tones the uterus
- Promotes regular menstruation
- Supports a healthy, comfortable monthly flow
- Promotes healthy ovarian and endometrial tissue
Ashoka (Saraca indica) is Ayurvedic medicine’s foremost uterine tonic and has many traditional uses that help support a healthy female reproductive system. Its name literally means “remover of sorrow,” attesting to its ability to promote health and healing. It is useful for supporting a regular monthly cycle and for promoting a normal, healthy menstrual flow. As a uterine tonic it has been used for endometriosis, excess bleeding, astringent, cancer prevention.
A Desert Sticker Gokshura
Walking in the New Mexico desert where I grew up, you will see tumbleweeds that we called stickers and goat heads. They stick to your cowboy boots and jeans and can puncture skin. The same Ayurvedic herb gokshura is known to body builders as Tribulus terrestris, aka “caltrops” and “goat head.” Gokshura, the sticker, is a rejuvenating tonic that is cooling and nourishing. Known to both traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda as a tonic for endurance, muscle strength and athletic performance, WebMD.com considers the herb useful for:
- Sexual problems that prevent satisfaction during sexual activity. Research shows that taking tribulus can improve the sexual experience in women who have sexual dysfunction or low sexual desire. Taking tribulus seems to improve sexual desire, arousal, sensation, ability to reach orgasm, lubrication, and sexual comfort. Early research also shows that taking tribulus can improve sexual satisfaction in men with erectile dysfunction.
- Athletic performance. Taking tribulus by mouth, alone or with other herbs and supplements, “doesn’t seem to enhance body composition or exercise performance in athletes.” Many body builders may disagree.
Vidari Kanda for older persons and Vata & Pitta
Pueraria Tuberose (Ipomoea digitata) is the Latin name for this rejuvenating yam. It is sweet, cooling, heavy and sticky. Like other yams, such as Peruvian maca, it helps to increase sexual hormones. In Ayurveda, it is considered:
- Aphrodisiac in nature.
- Supports lactation health, reproductive system.
- Supports healthy female cycle.
- Rejuvenates both mind and body
- Helpful and supportive for both the mind and the body.
- Helpful for the body and supports its immunity.
- Acts as Rasayana (rejuvenating) to maintain healthy aging process.
- Useful in respiratory system.
- Useful for overall health of the body.
What can you apply from this study of energy types and sex? Cook meals that are rejuvenating and that inspire loving affection.
- If your lover is Pitta (ruddy complexion, body heat, thinning hair, more aggressive energy and comes too quick in bed) keep things cool. Avoid garlic, onions, hot spice, red meat and alcohol. Add Vidari Kanda and green foods.
- If you want to heat things up, use spices: ginger, clove, cinnamon and fenugreek tea. It is all in the balance. Add Gokshura which also may improve weight loss for obese Kapha.
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