Proper Food, Sex and Sleep are necessary for a happy, healthy, fulfilled life in Ayurveda. Food nourishes your tissues, cells and organs. Sex nourishes relationships. Sleep rejuvenates and replenishes all of the organs.  Perfect health is achieved when these 3 pillars are balanced.  No pillar is more important than another.  Each pillar involves certain organs which correspond to different parts of the spine.  In Ayurveda, the spine includes the brain.  So, we can think of our choices with respect to these 3 pillars as feeding the spine/mind and emanating from the spine/mind.


Proper Food (Ahara):

  • Sources include: food, spices, breath, water, emotions, sensory intake
  • Nourishes and Feeds:
    • tissues, organs, cells, mind
    • digestive power (agni)
    • ojas (vital sap, immunity, vital reserve for healthy sex)
    • detoxification ability (lowers ama)
    • brings in prana (vital life force energy) into the system
    • the Divine within
  • Recommendations:
    • Eat when you are hungry
    • Eat until you are full, but not stuffed
    • Eat fresh, whole, organic foods according to the season
    • Eat while seated and in a calm environment
    • Drink plenty of filtered water
    • Take regular deep belly breaths throughout your day
    • Consider the quality of information you take in
  • Organs Involved:
    • Heart – vagus nerve, C5-C8, T1-T4
    • Vagus Nerve (10th cranial nerve) – innervates the digestive tract
    • Parotid gland – C1 – C4
    • Esophagus – T1-T4
    • Stomach, gallbladder, liver, pancreas – T5-T10
    • Small intestine – T5-T10, T11
    • Colon – T11, T12, L1-L5
    • Enteric nervous system
  • Note: When we are relaxed we digest. The parasympathetic nervous system stimulates the digestive system and then the enteric nervous system takes over. When we are stressed the adrenals are activated and digestion stops.


Proper Sex (Brahmacharya)

  • Sources: good healthy relationships, healthy self-relationship
  • Nourishes:
    • Joy in Life, contentedness, relationships
    • Psychological balance, Good memory, intellect, acuity of sense organs, slows aging, nourishment of the brain
    • Mental, Spiritual development
  • Recommendations
    • During Kapha time (8-10pm) which is associated with ojas (vital sap)
    • Away from meals so as to not interfere with digestion
    • Herbs with Aphrodisiac and rasayana qualities help with sexual desire and vitality
    • Excess Sex – depletes ojas, vitiates Vata, Pitta,
  • Organs –
    • Brain – pituitary, hypothalamus, hormones (central nervous system)
    • Reproductive organs – L1 – L5, Sacral, Uterus – T11, T12
    • Eyes – C1 – C4
    • Skin, muscles, limbs– whole spine
    • Heart, blood vessels – vagus nerve, C5-C8, T1-T4
  • Parts of Nervous System Involved – all of it, including the whole spine
    • Heart and Mind feel love and desire, and contentedness
    • CNS – brain (hormone axis), spinal cord to all the organs
    • PNS (peripheral nervous system)
      • Somatic – touching, sense organs (skin, eyes, ears, nose, mouth), movements muscles
      • Autonomic – hormones, excitement
        • Parasympathetic – sexual stimulation initiation
        • Sympathetic – orgasm


Proper Sleep (Nidra):

  • Replenishes
    • OJAS!!! (vital sap and immunity which we need for proper sex) & to feed our mind so that we make proper food choices
    • tissues, organs, cells, mind,
    • spine and brain itself (CSF is cleansed)
    • Heart rate slows, respiration slows (parasympathetic nervous system at work)
  • Recommendations:
    • Regular sleep and awakening schedule generally 10pm – 6am
    • Darkroom, free from distractions, evening routine, relaxation before bed
    • Meditation
    • Yoga nidra 1-2x/week
    • 1:2 breath flow (inhale 4 counts, exhale 8 counts) – longer exhales innervate the parasympathetic (relax ) NS
  • Organs that are replenished :
    • Stomach – 10pm – 12am (T5-T10)
    • Heart – 12am – 2am (C5-C8, T1-T4)
    • Liver/GB – 2-4am (T5-T10)
    • Colon, kidneys, bladder – 4-6am)
      • Colon T11, T12, L1-5
      • Kidneys – T5-10
      • Bladder – sacral
    • Note: When we do not get proper sleep there is weight gain, high blood pressure, weakened immune system



“One who manages these 3 pillars properly is guaranteed a full lifespan that will not be cut short by disease”

(Charak – 1 of the founders of Ayurvedic medicine)



By Mary Bruck – a doctoral Ayurvedic practitioner practicing Ayurveda in Boulder, CO

Mary Bruck

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