Ayurvedic knowledge teaches the importance of the 3 pillars of life. It states that if these 3 pillars are balanced, everything else psychologically will balance out. The 3 pillars of life include: proper digestion, proper sleep, and proper uses of sexual energy (this goes beyond sex, consider your creative energy too).
This week let's dive deeper into "proper digestion". What does that mean?
All imbalances physically manifest within the digestive track first before it spreads to other areas of the body. When the digestive system is out of balance, food can cause toxins (ama) in the body instead of good health. You can tell how much ama (toxins) you have simply by taking a look at your tongue in the mirror. If there is a coating on your tongue, it's ama. Our goal is to purify our body and mind and get rid of ama, that's why it is so important to understand the states of digestion and how to take care of it. This will assist with optimizing your capacity to digest food and use it as energy.
From an Ayurvedic standpoint in order to address digestion, we need to look at the force within the body that creates digestion, called agni. Agni means fire. So let's imagine within our belly's we have a campfire. For our campfire, we need the right amount of wind (vata), the right amount of material (kapha), and the right amount of fire (agni/pitta) to burn up the material. In order to determine this, we need to understand what's going on within us to set up agni for optimal digestion.
4 States of Angi
High Agni - pitta imbalance - weight fluctuates, desires large amounts of food, can't skip a meal, if a meal is skipped the person may become irritable or angry, he or she may experience hyperacidity, heartburn, or hot flashes.
Variable Agni - vata imbalance - has trouble gaining weight, irregular appetite meaning sometimes really hungry and other times not hungry at all, experiences gas, indigestion, muscle spasms, and insomnia.
Balanced agni - beyond the doshas (vata, pitta, and kapha are doshas, dosha means imbalance, when no imbalance is present, we transcend the doshas of vata, pitta, and kapha). Balanced agni means that one is not experiencing any type of digestive imbalance as listed from above. This is the only state that prevents disease.
Now it's time to consider, which one these do you experience on a regular basis? This is done by taking the next coupe of days or week to observe yourself. Ask yourself the questions: How am I feeling before I eat? Observe how much you've eaten and for the next 1-3 hours notice what happens or how you feel once you are done eating. This is how you can determine your state of agni. Please to note that each day will differ depending upon stress levels, take that into consideration also, do you eat more or less when stressed? What stressors trigger you? The point of this exercise is to start getting you aware of the language of your digestion.
Okay so now we have a greater understanding of what's going on side our digestive fire, it's time to do something about. Please remember to see change, you need to commit to being the change. Your success is completely up to your choices.
How to Balance Agni
Please note that these states only touch on minor digestive imbalances within the body.
High Agni - Focus on meals that are nutrient dense - whole fresh foods, packing you meals with protein and healthy fats from nuts, seeds, and oils(coconut and ghee are best). Choose cooling spices like cilantro, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, dill. Drink 2 TBSP of Aloe Vera (Inner Fillet) 2-3x/day.
*note: you can also drink Coriander, Cumin, and Fennel Tea throughout the day because all the herbs are directed towards balancing agni and are balancing to all 3 doshas. Instructions for tea is mentioned in variable agni.
Variable Agni - Focus on meals that are oily, thick, binding, and heavy. Eat 5 small meals per day. Drink Coriander, Cumin, and Fennel Tea throughout the day (folk method: simply take a pot of water 2-3 cups - and take equal parts of coriander, cumin, and fennel seeds
(1 tsp each) and boil in the pot for at least 15-30 mins, for a stronger tea boil until half of the water reduces). You can also chew on a nickel size of ginger 15-30 minutes before a meal.
Low Agni - Focus on foods that are light and dry with heating spices (cinnamon, clove, ginger, cayenne, parsley, cardamom) and reduce foods that are processed, high in sugar, and breads. Also you will need to stoke your agni by chewing on ginger 15-30 minutes before a meal or you can also chew on roasted cumin seeds. Drink hot beverages like ginger, cinnamon, cardamom teas. Make Lunch you biggest meal of the day (consider how the sun shines the brightest during the afternoon and how it correlates to peak digestion, when we need the most fuel for our day) and have smaller meals for breakfast and dinner.
Now that we've created the "right" fire within we can truly enjoy a tasty meal. Happy eating everyone!Are you feeling you need one on one guidance on this topic, click here, set up an appointment with me and we will uncover how to focus your inner fire for optimal digestion!
“The Four Varieties of Agni.” Banyan, www.banyanbotanicals.com/info/ayurvedic-living/living-ayurveda/health-guides/understanding-agni/the-four-varieties-of-agni/.
Four States of Agni.” Principles of Ayurvedic Medicine, by Marc Halpern, 10th ed.