In Ayurveda, the belief practiced is that we are what we take in, digest, and assimilate. The process of digestion in Ayurveda begins both in the mouth and mind. Ayurveda is heavily rooted in all forms of digestion including what we ingest through our diet, as well as our minds and intellect, to the very essence we are left with after everything we digest, from food to spiritual habits, and how this essence supports (or breaks down) the body, mind, spirit.
Contrary to western beliefs, or lack thereof, surrounding digestion, there is an intricate process in Ayurveda that extends well beyond after food is physically digested, or more-so transformed through Agni, our digestive fire, and waste is eliminated. After this process, what is actually left is Ahara Rasa or nutrient fluid/substance, the essence of food (and emotion) in elemental form and the primary waters of the body.
Rasa = Tastes. Emotions.
Ahara Rasa is then delivered in essence to the 7 layers of tissue, Dhatus, to build, nourish and support the elemental nature of tissue structure and growth of the body. Each process supporting the next through each layer of tissue, completing at the formation of Ojas, which is what houses our immunity, vitality, radiance and overall wellbeing. Depending on what and how we eat, we can either support the creation of our dhatus in a nourishing way or a destructive way. We either support and build our tissues and Ojas through positive lifestyle practices, diet, spiritual practices, healthy relationships or we deplete Ojas through processed foods, lack of sleep, stress, exhaustion, stagnation, depleted nutrition, lack of digestive fire, and unmanaged emotions such as irritability anger, frustration, and depression.
“Ojas is a Sanskrit term that can be translated as “vigor” or “essence of vitality.” In a nutshell, ojas is the vital energy that rules our immunity, strength, and happiness—three things we want to have in abundance. If our ojas is weak, our health, our spirits, and our energy sag.”
There are 7 types of dhatus in the body ; Rasa, Rhakta, Mamsa, Meda, Ashti, Majja, and Shukra. Each dhatu needs time to be formed and nourished, each taking about 5 days for process. Rasa dhatu (plasma and lymph) is the easiest tissue to nourish while the process gets a bit more demanding as it moves through each layer, with Shukra dhatu (reproductive fluid) being the final tissue formation. Once these deepest layers of tissue have been nourished, Ojas, our vitality is formed. In essence, the food we eat becomes ahara rasa, transforming through each Dhatu, completing the process at 35 days as outlined below. Again, what we eat is either nourishing or destructing through this process. If your food contains little life force and nourishment, there will be little to no essence of Ojas, or vitality.
“Before the nutrients infiltrate a particular dhatu, they pass through a pris- mic vibrational membrane, called kala. Heated by the body’s tissue fire, the nutri- ents are further transformed by the body crystal, which, by projecting a spectrum of vibrations, permeates the receiving tissue while it is being fed. When the nutrients of food and mind are wholesome, the prismic membrane is clear and luminous; when the nutrients are polluted, they cloud and may even block the prism completely. Essentially, while the rasa dhatu is being formed, the universal vibrations of joy and exhilaration – prinana – transpire into the organism through the prismic membrane infusing nature from within. When rasa is being replenished in the body, we experience a lift in spirit as the pure essences of nature are received into the body. If, however, the nutrients are unwholesome, rasa dhatu exudes sadness and grief, rather than joy, and these negative emotions quickly pervade the entire organism. As rasa feeds the blood, the joy mounts into exquisite exhilaration. The body, mind, and spirit surge forth to become boundlessly exuberant with abundant life.” – Wise Earth School of Ayurveda
Day 1–5: Rasa Dhatu. Plasma and lymph formation. Mental stress, digestive stress and an acidic environment will congest this process. In terms of skin health, this congestion can quickly manifest as breakouts, acne, fluid retention and puffiness.
Day 6–10: Rhakta Dhatu. Formation of blood, new red blood cells
Day 11–15: Mamsa Dhatu. Formation of muscle tissue
Day 16–20: Meda Dhatu. Formation of fat/adipose tissue
Day 21–25: Asthi Dhatu. Formation of bone tissue
Day 26–30: Majja Dhatu. Formation of bone marrow and nerve tissue
Day 31–35: Shukra Dhatu. Formation of reproductive fluid/sperm and ovum
Day 36: OJAS. Formation of Ojas, the finest product of digestion, our radiance, immunity and vitality
“You are what you take in, digest and assimilate.”