Just as a campfire provides energy and warmth, so does our agni, “digestive fire”. It breaks down food into nutrients, converts energy, aids growth, cell repair and eliminates toxins. It assimilates what is useful and eliminates the rest. Our fire can serve as a beacon to all aspects of our vitally, playing an illuminating role in our physical and emotional well-being. Is it the Manipura, solar plexus chakra “City of Jewels” which represents our confidence and control in our lives.
These powerful Ayurvedic principles will help create a spark and set your life on fire.
Fuel your agni mindfully
The Sattvic diet. Developed for higher state of consciousness, Sattvic foods are bountiful in Prana, the universal life-force. They are pure, constructive, clean and wholesome; whole grain, seasonally obtained, non-meat, prepared with love and awareness.
Eat the right amount. Find what’s right for you. Consume enough food to strike a balance for strength whilst avoiding indigestion. As a guideline, fuel your tummy at mealtimes with 25% liquid, 50% food, leaving 25% to activate digestion, remembering that all fire needs space to breathe.
Enjoy your largest meal at lunchtime. Our sun and agni are most active during the heat of midday, which is also generally when we need the most energy to power through.
Chew, chew, chew. Digestion begins in the mouth so lend your gut a helping hand (or mouth) by chewing food properly and making it easier to digest.
Eat in peaceful surroundings. Just be present and give yourself space to relish life-giving energy, avoid distractions from phones, TV’s, books etc.
Don’t eat when you’re “in a mood”. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth and can antagonise your digestive tract by causing tension.
Take your time, sit and be present. Take a time-out moment to savour and appreciate food. By siting down our muscles relax, soothing the stomach. It will be more satisfying than scoffing a sandwich on the run.
Invoke all your senses. Make the experience one to enjoyably remember. Inhale the delightful smell of flavours. See the “rainbow” on your dish. Enjoy the chewy, sticky and crispy texture sensations. Tickle your taste buds with foodie goodness.
Limit your ingredients. The expression “too many cooks spoil the broth” bears meaning to our digestion too. Some foods just don’t work together such as starch and protein, which need different enzymes and acidity to be digested.
Eat warm meals. Not too hot, not too cold, just right and it won’t antagonise or smother your digestive fire.
A rhythmic eating regime. Nature’s seasons, day and night, move in timed cycles, so adopt the pace of nature. Our digestion actually craves regularity, it is built for it.
Stoke your agni, get it moving
Exercise. Regular exercise helps to keep food moving through our digestive system. The levels of hormones which send signals to our brain telling our stomach that it’s full increases immediately after exercise, according to research published in the Journal of Endocrinology.
Fire to the core, Yogi Surprise Sequence. The combination of asanas in this sequence targets your core to help stretch and massage your abdominal organs. At the same time they will help increase your stamina, ease bloating discomfort, and leave you feeling re-energised.
Surya Namaskar. Yoga pros say that practicing our beloved Sun Salutation cycle for 12 – 15 minutes, is equivalent to doing 288 powerful Yoga asanas. The mantra spoken at the end of practicing Surya Namaskar alludes to the potency of this timeless Yoga sequence; “For those who salute the sun every day, life expectancy, conscious, strength, courage and vital power shall grow.”
Breathing. Yogi breathing exercises such as Kapalbhati Pranayam help to oxygenate the body, improves circulation and digestion whilst strengthening the muscles in your stomach and abdomen.
Give your agni breathing space
Mediation. The powerful art of meditation exists in countless forms. Whatever you identify mediation as, it’s about finding and creating space, surrendering and being at one in the moment. Regular committed and mindful practice can liberate tension, leaving you with a sense of inner peace. Mediation can aid digestion and coupled with Vajrasana, Thunderbolt pose (a traditional seated and meditative position) also helps purify functions of the immune system and digestion, is a powerful combination.
Cut it out. Vices including alcohol, coffee and cigarettes can inhibit the effect of your digestive fire, as well as leading to problems such as stomach ulcers.
Let it go. Undesirable “gut feelings” such as nausea, loss of appetite or a desire to supress emotions by over eating, all harm our digestive fire. By observing emotions, being mindful and finding the right path of action, you can prevent your agni from going into overdrive or crying out in pain.
Fasting. Before moving too fast and getting carried away, the act of fasting doesn’t simply mean total abstinence from food. It is a wilful cleansing technique promoting good health to bring back balance. It may just be elongated periods between meals, no food 2 hours before sleeping, cutting out a certain type of food… Please, don’t go to fast without due care under a professional’s guidance.
Slumber time. The list is endless when we get a good night sleep. Wow, don’t we feel it when our sleeping pattern is disturbed or irregular? Our digestion, the food we eat and our vitality are deeply connected to sleep. Simple techniques such as avoiding food before bedtime, keeping your head elevated, allowing gravity to keep acid and gas in the stomach from moving up your digestive tract and sleeping on the left to aid removal of stomach acid all help in some way to keep your fire moving.
Fire is a force to be reckoned with. Too much fire can cause devastation, too little and it will perish. Fire is a hypnotic wondrous thing, and you have the power to honour the fire that burns inside you.