You would be hard-pressed to meet someone who doesn’t want more vitality. Even for the young, healthy, and energetic, cultivating and maintaining a sense of vigor, resilience, and joie de vivre is certainly desirable. When it comes to vitality, Ayurveda takes a long range and holistic view. Special rasayana herbs and a nourishing diet and lifestyle build deep energy reserves. Ashwagandha rasayana is one such herb.
What Is A Rasayana?
Rasayana is not a single herb but rather a special Ayurvedic category of herbs. Translated as “to enter the rasa,” rasayanas work through the rasa (fluids, plasma) to nourish all the organs. These special rejuvenating herbs are important in that they also support ojas, or vital life sap (1). Here is a short list of some of the most popular rasayanas in Ayurvedic herbalism:
- Amla berry
This is not a complete list but gives you some sense of which herbs are considered rasayanas. It is also worth noting that some rasayanas are warming, some are cooling, some are heavy, and some are light. One can choose the best rasayana(s) based upon their constitution.
Ashwagandha: Rasayana With Many
Ashwagandha is a foundational rasayana in Ayurveda. It is one of the best and most popular herbs for any kind of Vata imbalance. Its name literally translates as “smell of a horse” but this herb is also reputed for bestowing the vitality and sexual energy of a horse (1).
Also known as Winter Cherry, this starchy root has a mild flavor when dried and powdered. It has a bitter, astringent, and sweet taste, a warm energy, and an overall nourishing effect on the body (1). Consider ashwagandha as a rasayana for nervous system support, sleep cycle regulation, muscle tonification, and endocrine support. This versatile rasayana is well-known for its ability to boost libido in men, but it can also be given to women for hormone support and as an overall tonic. Truly, this herb can benefit individuals of all genders, from young to old. That said, since ashwagandha is a nutritive and warming rasayana, caution should be used with those who have a warm constitution, ama, or who have excess tissue development. For instance, ashwagandha is generally not a good choice for those with a high amount of Kapha or Pitta in their constitution.
How to Enjoy Ashwagandha
There are as many ways to take ashwagandha rasayana as there are usages for it! You can take ashwagandha as a tincture, powder, or infused in tea or ghee. You can even add powdered ashwagandha to treats such as homemade truffles, chai, or hot cocoa. Furthermore, the revered herbal jam Chyawanprash contains ashwagandha in addition to many other beneficial rasayanas. A teaspoon or two of Chyawanprash daily is a great way to enjoy the benefits of ashwagandha while imbibing other rejuvenating herbs.
Ashwagandha may not be the herb for everyone all the time, but especially for Vata issues or for circumstances that require rejuvenation and tonification, ashwagandha rasayana is truly an asset.
(1) Dass, V. (2013). Ayurvedic herbology East & West: A practical guide to Ayurvedic herbal medicine. Lotus Press.
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.