Rasayana is one of the eight branches of Ayurveda and is the study of longevity, anti-aging, and rejuvenation. Learn more about Ayurvedic rasayana practices, supplements, and herbs.
What is Rasayana Therapy and Why is it So Important?
Rasayana is one of the eight branches of Ayurveda and is the study of longevity, anti-aging, and rejuvenation. The word rasa means essence, juice, plasma-like substances, lymph, taste, and emotion. Ayana is a special study, path, or to enter.1-3
A rasayana targets ability to break down a food into its nutrient parts (agnis), assimilate them, and circulate them (srotas) to deep tissues or dhatus. A rasayana must also support the body’s ability to remove waste or malas, balancing and strengthening the doshas (vata, pitta, and kapha).
The end result of a rasayana (longevity formula) is to reduce the catabolic process (breakdown) of the body, while increasing the anabolic process (strengthening and building up, potential stem cell activation).3
Using Rasayana Technologies to Nourish Tissues
India’s National Health Portal describes the meaning of rasāyana as obtaining the optimum nourishment to the dhatu.2 Dhatus are the seven primary tissues of the body, which start with formation of rasa, commonly known as nutrient fluid (ahara rasa), which becomes lymph.
Read my articles on lymph from the Ayurvedic-modern science perspective here.
If development of rasa through the initial stages of digestion is imbalanced, then all tissues that follow (rakta/blood, mamsa/muscle, medha/fat, asthi/bone, majja/nerve, and shukra/reproductive tissue) will be improperly formed. This process takes 30 days, resulting in formation of one of the body’s most subtle substances: ojas. Ojas affects mood, health, longevity, confidence, strength, vigor, virility, and spirituality. Rasayana “longevity therapies” directly support formation of dhatus and production of ojas.
We RecommendEmotional Side of Lymph + Food
The first step in this process takes place in the early stages of digestion in the formation of what is called ahara rasa, or nutrient fluid, the precursor to the first and perhaps most important tissue: rasa or lymph. Proper production of ahara rasa depends on subtle influences that take place before food enters the mouth.
4 Types of Rasayana
The four main types of rasayana come very early in or before digestion starts:4
- Ahara rasayana – having to do with food
- Vihara rasayana – having to do with lifestyle
- Acharya rasayana – having to do with behavior
- Aushadha rasayana – having to do herbs
These four types of rasayana have to do with bringing sattva into the food, lifestyle, behavior, and herbs you consume. Sattva suggests being content, loving, kind, generous, and happy for no reason—just because it is your nature. By contrast, a rajasic person is satisfied through stimulation of the senses and a tamasic person is rarely satisfied, finding safe haven in retreat and withdrawal from life’s stressors.
It is well understood in Ayurveda that proper formation of rasa, the dhatus (seven tissues), and ojas depend of sattvic foods, lifestyle, behavior, and herbs—all of which are rasayana therapies.
We RecommendQuiz: What’s Your Emotional Body Type?
Rasa: How Emotions Affect Food
The word rasa describes lymph, taste, and emotion. Taste, emotion, lifestyle, and behavior make up the ahara rasa (nutrient fluid) that then forms lymph, dhatus, and ojas.
How does emotion play into tissue formation? In Ayurveda, it is understood that emotions are projected into food by the grower, harvester, the person who carries it to market, and the cook. In other words, emotions of the people handling food from seed to table affect its quality or sattva. Now we have Western science to suggest this is true.
Microbes are extremely sensitive to emotion and impressions. Study after study finds that being around stressful, emotional, or aggressive behavior changes microbes of normal individuals. Such stressors have repeatedly been found to change proliferation of beneficial bacteria and negatively alter mood.5-7
Ayurveda understood this thousands of years ago and recognized that if subtle impressions from emotions were harnessed and made sattvic, this would be a rasayana or longevity therapy. Living a sattvic and loving lifestyle, behaving in a loving and giving way, and eating sattvic foods are all rasayana therapies. Science is just beginning to understand the nuances of emotion and impressions felt on our most subtle levels, which affect longevity, health, and happiness.5-7
Behavioral / Achara Rasayanas
The following original behavioral or achara rasayanas described in Ayurveda’s primary text, Caraka Samhita, suggest the promise of longevity.
Balance Your Tastes for Emotional Health
Ayurveda suggests tastes carry emotions. It’s important to have a balance of all six major tastes at each meal to create a balanced emotional state. The proper balance of these tastes plays an important role in formation of rasa, dhatus, and ojas.
Six Tastes + Corresponding Emotions
- Sweet | satisfaction; contentment; fulfillment
- Sour | discernment; insight; heightened awareness
- Salty | desire; zest for life; passion
- Pungent | extroverted; driven; ambitious
- Bitter | dynamic; focused; cool-headed
- Astringent | introspective; mentally clear; composed
If a taste is missing over a long period of time, or is present in excess, it can cause emotional and physiological imbalance.
We know 95% of serotonin is manufactured and stored in the gut,7 and we know that emotional states are affected by the kinds of microbes we have in the gut.8-13 We also know that emotion-making microbes are affected by moods and feelings in our environment. According to Ayurveda, the mood, feelings, and environment during a meal will determine the state of our rasa.
Thus, the tastes of each food and their corresponding emotions can help maintain, restore, or disturb the subtle balance nurtured by eating. Foods are emotionally charged by how we eat, and each taste plays an important role.
The Most Subtle Rasayana: Biophotons + Intention
For decades, researchers have described a phenomenon where cells, and even whole animals, communicate with each other through emission and reception of biophotons. These ultaweak biophotons are concentrated within DNA and communicate throughout the body and even from species to species energetically through light.20
In one study, when a healthy rodent was put in a cage for 48 hours with a rodent who had received a single dose of brain radiation, the un-irradiated rodent saw similar or even a greater health effects than what was measured in the radiated rodent. How is that possible? The mechanism they discovered for this transmission was biophotons.20
Researchers conclude that biophotons appear to communicate with all the cells of the body in a synchronous wave of informational energy at the speed of light. Biophotons can manipulate matter, making physiological changes,14-19 and physics tells us these photons can interact and carry information over vast distances instantaneously.
Biophotons Charged with Intention
Studies find that biophotons can be altered with intention, which may explain the importance of behavorial, lifestyle, and food-based rasayanas. Biophotons may also offer a rationale for distance healing, healing of prayer, laying on of hands, and many other modalities once considered pseudoscientific “faith healings.”
According to what is called Bókkon’s hypothesis, intention can produce biophysical images in the brain associated with increased emission of ultraweak biophotons (UPEs).18
According to the theory, biophotons emitted from the body with intention can interact with other biophotons related or entangled with that intention.19 This is related to Einstein’s theory of “spooky action at a distance,” in which entangled photons change each other instantaneously over very large distances.
Human skin has been found to be a UPE-(biophoton-)trapping system, suggesting that humans both emit and receive biophotons, which we now know can be changed or altered by intention and carried over long distances. These UPEs can have therapeutic effects when intention is applied, as seen in studies with yoga and meditation.14-17
There is much to learn about the power of intention, moving prana, and forming healthy rasa and biophotons, as they all seem to function at the junction where frequencies and quantum particles meet.
With intention, these most subtle frequencies and impressions may be able to change our material world. Perhaps they are the healing force or rasayanas behind our prayers.
Read my articles on biophotons here.
Stem Cells + Rasayana Longevity Therapies
Boosting longevity with herbs is called aushada rasayana. Boosting longevity with food is called ahara rasayana, or that which builds the ahara rasa / nutrient fluid. I have already written extensively on both of these topics:
To read my articles about rasayana longevity therapies with foods, click here.
To read my articles about rasayana longevity therapies with herbs, read: