It’s proper Winter or Kapha season, it’s dark and cold outside and feels a bit static. You’ve over-indulged on Kapha foods with properties like sweet, heavy and dense, yes, I’m looking at you, Christmas pudding! The potential for Kapha imbalance, regardless of your particular Dosha, is high. You know you need to give your body a bit more nourishment with healthier food but what about your Agni?
WHAT IS AGNI?
In Ayurveda Agni is considered that heat that transforms, a biological force that governs metabolism. Part of the Pitta Dosha* system in the body, the heat energy of pitta is known as Agni, the catalyst for digestion and metabolism. In Ayurveda, Pitta is considered the container whilst Agni is the content.
Metabolism is most often associated with the breakdown of foods into energy but is a range of biochemical processes essential for life, therefore Agni is present in all tissues and cells and helps nourishment of the all systems of the body, including the auto-immune system.
Pitta Dosha can be found in the stomach as our gastric fire or Agni where its acidic nature breaks down food and stimulates digestion. Ayurveda believes Agni is essential for longevity; while it is functioning efficiently food will be broken down, absorbed and assimilated for the body’s needs. When Agni is impaired due to imbalance in the Doshas, the system begins to break down, resulting in reduced metabolism and an impaired immune system.
WHAT IS AMA?
Once the system begins to work less successfully, food elements remain undigested, unabsorbed and unused and begin to accumulate in the large intestine. And just like that drawer or cupboard in your house where everything gets dumped and the dust builds up, things get pretty ‘yucky’ in the digestive system. This ‘yuckiness’ is called Ama and it begins to clog not just the intestines but all the channels of the body, including blood vessels which travel through the entire person. The Ama undergoes chemical changes on its journey, creating toxins which are absorbed into the blood stream, circulate, accumulate in weaker parts of the body and create stagnation, clogging, weakness and eventually the appearance of disease and illness.
WHAT CAN WE DO ABOUT IT?
Over-indulgence during the festive season can leave the digestive Agni weakened as it works overtime with the all the excessive foods, leading to imbalance. Agni, like any fire, needs kindling and we can ‘enkindle’ our gastric fire in many ways using Ayurveda. So, whilst switching from mince pies to nourishing root vegetable stews is a step in the right direction, having a strong Agni or digestive fire is crucial if we are to transform our food into the elements our bodies really need. To follow are a few suggestions from the yoga toolbox and FOUR retreats, to empower YOU to fan the flames of your digestive fire.
* We are made up of all three Doshas, Vata, Pitta and Kapha, in various proportions. It is the exact proportions which make us unique, a predominance of one, two or more rarely, three Doshas, determines our constitution, i.e. Pitta/Kapha or Vata/Pitta etc.