Omkar Ayurveda and Nina Shah are happy to bring you this new series with the purpose of helping you gain a deeper understanding of Ayurveda, and how its principles play into your everyday life. Twice a month you can expect to learn about finding better balance- specifically through food and digestion, your specific Dosha (mind-body type), and Omkar’s various massage & stress-reduction services.
What is Agni?
According to Ayurveda, Agni is that element that performs digestion and transformation in our bodies. Essentially, it is one’s capacity to digest. And as we’ve all probably heard before, proper digestion is perhaps the most important factor of maintaining good health.
Before we get into how Agni is affecting our everyday life, here’s a little more background. The main location of Agni is in the alimentary canal, which is our digestive tract throughout the body- although it is mostly around the navel area. This primary type of Agni is called ‘Jatharagni’ in Sanskrit.
All tissues in our body actually possess their own unique Agni required for “digestion of nutrition” at a tissue level. In fact, all cells of our body are dependent on their own Agni for healthy transformation. All of this Agni, however, is largely dependent on ‘Jatharagni.’ So, where do we go from here?
How Do You Know What State Your Agni Is In?
Ayurveda specifies three mind-body energy types called “Doshas” (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha) that everyone possesses- although each person is dominant in one or two of them. Why does this matter? Because Jatharagni’s function is determined by a few factors specific to your dominant type. This means that the quality of your Agni, or ability to digest, currently falls in 1 of these 4 states… knowing which one is the first step to better digestion and better health.
Manda Agni – Is sluggish, slow-performing Agni. So even a small amount of food takes a long time to digest, which represents the heavy, sluggish qualities of Kapha* Dosha
Teekshna Agni – Is sharp, so it digests food at a very fast rate. This represents the sharpness of Pitta* Dosha
Vishama Agni – Is variable, so at times brings about proper digestion and other times improper, which is due to the irregular quality of Vata* Dosha
IF you are in a balanced state, this is what you will experience…
Is balanced and performs at optimum level. Food is digested properly resulting in an overall mind-body-spirit balance
To learn more about the Doshas and their importance for Agni, see the bottom of this writing!
How Will Agni Affect You in Daily Life?
Just as your dominant Dosha is inborn, Manda, Teekshna, and Vishama are inborn qualities about you- they are not regarded as illnesses. But on the other hand, each type of individual- as explained below- is said to be prone to certain pathological conditions if they exceed the limits of what their Dosha naturally allows.
One type of person may be prone to poor digestion, resulting in sluggishness, heaviness in the abdomen and body and mind, excess salivation, or vomiting sensations. All these conditions result in poor nutrition and the creation of a disease that circulates in the body.
The second type of person may be prone to a pathological condition where nutrition is burnt, not digested, and they may experience an internal burning sensation.
The third type of person may be prone to poor digestion resulting in bloating, pain, heaviness, gurgling in the abdomen, and other diseases.
Here’s What You Can Do To Maintain Good Agni (Including in Summer Specifically)
- Eat food only when your previous meal is digested (For ex: when there is feeling of lightness in body)
- Eat food when hunger is felt. But, pushing hunger to a point where you feel hunger pangs is not healthy either.
- Eat food in proper quantity and quality, that aligns with your dosha. Heavy foods are not easily digestible by Vata or Kapha so they should be eaten in small quantities.
- Eat warm and freshly prepared foods whenever possible.
- Food should be agreeable to you. (Ex: if spicy foods cause burning effects, avoid them. If certain foods cause discomfort avoid them.)
- Do not eat when feeling grief, anger, anxiety, stress, anger, confusion. These psychological conditions hamper Agni profoundly. (refer to point #3).
- Food should be eaten in a pleasant and happy environment, where you can be mindful and enjoy your food.
In Summer Specifically…
We feel less energetic and have less strength as opposed to Wintertime. That’s because the sun’s rays are beating down on Earth, which depletes our energy. This impacts Agni in our bodies too, and hence our appetite is not as robust as in the winter months. With this in mind, we will want to eat easy-to-digest and cooling foods during summer.
Summer Food Suggestions
- Cooked Vegetables
- (Non-root and leafy are better choices than root vegetables, since they are lighter for digestion)
- Lentils and Small Beans
- (Black beans, Mung beans, Red lentils…)
- Summer Fruits
Learn More About Finding Good Agni for YOUR Mind-Body Type