Agni (digestive fire) is the energy available to transform anything we consume into something useful. Whether it is food, TV, music, lotion or anything we expose ourselves to, agni is what allows us to transform food and life into nutrients for the body and consciousness for our soul.
When agni is imbalanced toxins are created, our vitality is reduced and the disease process begins. Balanced agni is key to good health and great living!
In Ayurveda there is the recognition that we are each born with some weaknesses and some strengths. We all have tendencies in our agni which is based in our constitution. The tools of Ayurveda offer solutions to optimize what we are given for a life of feeling well!
Here are the types of agni and how to best work with each of them:
This is an irregular agni related to vata dosha but may involve other dosha imbalance. The digestive pattern alternates between very quick and very slow. Common symptoms are diarrhea, gas, heaviness and rumbling in the abdomen.
To Balance Vishmagni:
Regular meal times, not overeating in any one sitting, and calming vata will bring healing. Emphasize cooked food with sweet and pungent tastes. Use the herbal combination of trikatu before meals to help restore balance.
This is slow agni typically associated with kapha. Digestion is so slow that only small meals can be eaten. Undigested food sits in the intestines too long, producing symptoms such as heaviness in the abdomen or head, respiratory problems, asthma, cough, excess saliva, nausea and fatigue.
To Balance Mandagni:
Drinking tea with cumin, coriander, and fennel before and between meals is helpful. Ginger appetizer before meals and a short walk in the sunshine after will wake up the fire of agni. Trikatu is also helpful.
This is quick agni associated with pitta dosha. Agni is above the optimal level and any type of food is digested too quickly. Hunger comes soon after eating. Symptoms during digestion include dry throat, mouth and lips, sometimes with a burning sensation. Additionally, diarrhea, acidity, anemia, and low energy may occur.
To Balance Tikshnagni:
Avoid pungent spices such as garlic and chili peppers, as well as caffeine, alcohol and excessive sun exposure. Consume a 1/2 cup of buttermilk or a 1/4 cup yoghurt mixed with 1/4 cup water at the end of a meal. Herbs such as amalaki, guduchi, and shatavari are also helpful to reduce pitta and bring the balance back.
Samagni is a stable, optimum agni present when all three doshas are balanced. Digestion and assimilation of food and life is smooth and efficient leading to healthy dhatus (body tissues) as well as peace and joy in living!
Take care to balance your doshas and keep agni stable for a long, healthy, happy life!
Myra Lewin is a certified NAMA Ayurvedic Practitioner and master Yogini who has studied and worked alongside people of great wisdom in Ayurveda and Yoga for decades. She has presented at conferences worldwide, holds workshops and retreats internationally, and teacher trainings on the island of Kaua’i, Hawaii. Myra is the founder of Hale Pule Ayurveda & Yoga.