January 08th, 2014
AGNI - OUR DIGESTIVE FIRE
The first word in the ancient Ayurvedic texts is Agni, which means fire. The basic premise is that if our digestive fire is strong then we can prevent and curtail any dis-ease process that comes along. So, is it safe to say that, ‘the road of disease begins with poor digestion?” Let’s explore this further. Dis-ease can be as simple as the common cold, allergies, feeling imbalanced in the body or mind, flu, improper bowel movements or it can be big like IBS, cancer, heart disease, or diabetes.
At the time of conception we were all created with the 5 elements in our being; those being: ether, air, fire, water, earth. This in turn created our constitution of Vata (ether/air), Pitta (fire/water) or Kapha (water/earth) and usually a unique combination of these 3. We also came into this world with our own weak space or defective area in the body (khavaigunya) for attracting certain diseases in our physical and mental bodies. My khavaigunya as a child was ear infections and as I got older sinus infections. As I continue to age and modify my routine, based on the Ayurvedic lifestyle and understanding, I am narrowing this khavaigunya down to a weak digestion that really began further back into my infancy as colic. I know now that colicky babies have issues with a weak digestive system and possible imbalanced nervous system. They are gassy, bloated, uncomfortable, irritable, etc. Today, 45+ years later I can see certain patterns in my diet and lifestyle that can lead to similar digestive issues that in turn can lead to the cold or sinus issues.
What is the pathway to this dis-ease process? I learned in A&P class that bacteria & viruses love dry so one of my daily rituals is to use the neti pot, followed by nasya oil to flush out the germs and to lubricate to create balance and alleviate the dryness. Another culprit of dis-ease and a weak digestive system is the buildup of toxins (ama) in the channels of undigested food or waste materials. This is when we experience gas, excess mucus or bile.
Here’s the clincher: Ama and Agni are opposite in properties. Ama is cold, wet, heavy, cloudy, impure and Agni is hot, dry, light, clear and pure. To treat Ama we must increase Agni. Ama is the root of most colds, fevers, flus and chronic disease. Ama is increased by sweet, sour, salty food and drink1
During this holiday season we all have easy access to foods that may not be a ‘normal‘ part of our diet. There is more sugar, wheat, dairy and heavy foods that can clog up the channels of digestion. The daily stress is still there but now we have the added stress of holiday shopping, parties, family gatherings, and possible financial worries. Start to notice the patterns in your life and health that may be the cause of your dis-ease process. When we bring the balance of food, routine and lifestyle back in our lives we can see when it is very obvious that we feel our very best in mind and spirit. Other people notice if too and ask what that glow is about you. We truly are only a ‘breath’ away from being whole.
So, the next time you decide to eat that extra piece of fudge, pumpkin pie or eggnog this season take a moment to ask yourself if this will support or create a weakness in your digestion. All it takes is that one cold or flu to bring you back into awareness of what it means to feel good, to feel whole. Ayurveda is a wonderful system of looking at all stages of the digestive process with ways to tweak and modify to bring balance back into your life. It might be that you need a simple pranayama or yoga practice or a new way to look at preparing and buying food for this Vata/winter season. Maybe you could use a snehana therapy and a consult to get to your core issues. There are also some wonderful supportive herbs and foods for this Vata season to clear Ama and support our Agni.
Consider Whole Healing Ayurveda as your “reset button” at regular intervals to ensure the integration of healthy seasonal routines, as life is constantly changing and expanding. Visit my website to view Services and to make an appointment. There is no better gift than the gift of health!
1. The Yoga of Herbs, Frawley & Lad
Whole Healing Ayurveda
The teachings of Ayurveda are as pertinent today as they were thousands of years ago.