Agni - The Fire of Life
Agni, simply put, is the key to health. It is the digestive fire within us that governs all transformation including converting the food we eat into bodily tissues. Agni regulates body temperature, digestive enzymes and metabolism and also maintains the normality of all functions within the body.
In Ayurveda, healthy digestion is vital for good health and strong agni is vital for healthy digestion. When agni is weak, food is not digested properly and undigested food accumulates as toxins (ama) within the body. This results in symptoms often seen with conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and other digestive disorders as well as feeling sluggish, tired, heavy, lethargic. Furthermore, our tissues do not get the nutrients they require to heal and restore and the immune system is affected.
All three Doshas effect the state of agni and all three are important in keeping agni balanced. When agni is imbalanced, the Doshas become imbalanced and when Doshas are imbalanced, agni becomes imbalanced. In either scenario, disease and illness can take root.
So, how do you make sure your agni is strong? There are many factors that affect the state of agni and if you have a Dosha imbalance, issues specific to you must be addressed. However, there are habits you can avoid and daily rituals to practice that ensure agni stays strong.
Avoid habits that weaken agni such as:
- Eating a large meal in the evening
- Eating too close to bed time (try to eat three hours before bed)
- Eating heavy, fried or processed food
- Eating when you’re not hungry
Practice habits that strengthen agni:
- Allowing proper time for digestion between meals and snacks (4-6 hours)
- Eating slowly and without distraction
- Eating only if hungry
- Eating to 2/3 full (1/3 food, 1/3 water, 1/3 space for digestion)
- Eating fresh and nutritious foods
There are also specific spices that help kindle agni which can easily be incorporated into your daily diet such as ginger, black pepper, cloves, cardamom, mustard and cinnamon.