Rasa is a word with many meanings. Essence, taste, and fluids or plasma are some of the words that define rasa. Ayana means "path" or “what enters” (Frawley & Lad, 2001). Therefore a rasayana can be translated as "path of essence" or "that which enters the essence or fluids of the body." In Ayurveda, rasayana is both a category of herbs and the process of deep rejuvenation. A good way to think of the meaning of rasayana is that it is the therapeutics which improve and promote dhatus. There are seven dhatus, or bodily tissues, according to Ayurveda. These dhatus can be viewed like concentric circles—each one expressing deeper layers of the body. The rasa (fluids, plasma) is in some ways the foundational dhatu. All of the organs of the body are bathed in rasa, so keeping this dhatu nourished and pure is vital.
is what penetrates and revitalizes the essence of our psycho-physiological being” (p. 72).
Just as it is near impossible to dye a dirty cloth, rasayana will be much deeper and more penetrating if the individual first undergoes a purification process or cleanse. This process can be as deep as pancha karma, but of course, it is always helpful to consult with a trusted Ayurvedic practitioner to determine the ideal course of action for you.
Greta Kent-Stoll is a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner (NAMA), as well as a writer, editor, and Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher. Her Ayurveda practice is based in Asheville, North Carolina and she is the co-owner of Iyengar Yoga Asheville.
Dass, V. (2013). Ayurvedic herbology East & West. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus Press.
Frawley, D., & Lad, V. (2001). The yoga of herbs. Twin Lakes, WI: Lotus Press.