How does digestion take place?
First you observe what you eat. Prana vayu takes the food in, chew it up and bodhaka kapha (in saliva, important for understanding tastes that in turn stimulate the process of digestion) mixes with food, then we swallow using prana vayu, food goes down to stomach, mixes with kleda kapha – creating separation of food particles away from each other so that pachaka pitta can break it down, it moves from amashaya onwards to the grahani, which further breaks apart and then separates it into the saara and kitta. (gross level/sthula digestion ends with this creation of saara and kitta.) Samana Vayu is the flow of the digestion, not air. Samana Vayu fans the agni before any of its other functions. Samana Vayu controls how much time the food takes to mix with the kledaka kapha. How much food should go on as well. Holds food in particular place in particular amount of time. If not held correct time, it is not broken down enough, and therefore can’t continue onwards in small enough particles to be up-taken by body. Present all over the koshta but specifically in the ileocecal valve. Samana Vayu will hold in the pachaka pitta for right amount of time (if you can see identifiable matter in fecal matter, then samana vayu is not functioning appropriately – malabsorbsion in western lingo but it can be many things and this is why the western labels are so vague). Then samana vayu takes saara to heart. From heart, then vyana vayu carries onwards to dhatus. Kitta is also important and must follow its proper course for elimination. If elimination is not happening properly with apana vayu, vata will move upward instead of downward and disturb digestion.
Whatever mahabhutas have entered the body form saara and kitta. Saara is not the same as dhatus – it goes to nourish those dhatus. The easiest way to understand saara is that it will replenish every dhatu in turn. Kitta will be excreted in form of urine and fecal matter. Saara replenishing all the dhatus is called subtle digestion. This saara is then called Aahara Rasa. Food + Nourishing components = aahara rasa. Dhatus have its own house called the srotas. The rasavaha srotas are the channels that aahara rasa gets moved throughout the body to the dhatus. Rasa + flowing + channels = rasa vaha srotas. If a person has consumed a lot of say pork or meat and the body does manage to digest it, the aahara rasa would be so heavy that it would cause dysfunction. Therefore, it goes to the rasa vaha srotas, actually to the agni of the rasa dhatu and that further breaks down the aahara rasa.
So here it goes…..
Aaahara rasa -> rasa vaha srotas : is it digestible? -> rasa dhatu. If not digestible -> rasagni -> Rasa -> then goes to the Rasa Upadhatus of breastmilk and menstrual fluid -> leftovers are kapha. So if rasagni is not healthy, the aahara rasa wouldn’t be able to create in good manner. Either not enough, or in excessive and bad quality. It takes one day to complete rasa.
It is very important to keep the top of the stomach empty so that there is room for the mix and breakdown of the food to happen. ¼ liquid, ¼ empty, ½ solid – but factor in the water content of all the food you are taking in. According to various conditions of the individual, the rules change – if there is a lot of kledaka kapha in the body, one doesn’t drink water, cause it will lead to nausea because of too much water. By water, we mean liquid. In the Western world, blanket statements are made about water intake around food. Most say that one should not drink with food. by seeing that it is determined by the individuals situation you see that this is very wrong. This as an example is exactly why there are so many theories out there in the Western world of health and they all end up wrong due to generalized blanket statements and a lack of being able to see the individual. What happens if one takes water in before the meal? During the meal? After the meal? Warm water or cold? it all makes a huge difference to what will happen. See the idea?
In the grahani, pachaka pitta is present (has Tejas + Aap Mahabhuta) when levels of aap drop down, this stage is clearly pronounced. You then feel hungry at certain times. That is only when Aap mahabhuta is reduced, Tejas shows its presence and we call that hunger. This is true in every case, every time. no hunger, no digestive capability.
Manda agni – when kapha is more present than others, and qualities of kapha will be more present in the way that it slows down the digestion slightly. This is more than general physiology/prakruti. This is why it is said that when you exercise you increase your agni – raises the fire. Not associated with digestion process.
Tikshna agni – qualities of pitta are more present than others and that is all over. It is more prevalent in digestion but true everywhere in pitta person. The digestion is not connected to the constitution like it is said to be in Western Ayurveda. A kapha person can have tikshna agni. A pitta person can have manda agni.
If we like the food we eat, the mind wants more, increases hunger. If we have properly digested the meal, we will be hungry again.