Agni is known in Ayurveda as the internal digestive fire, as well as the deity of fire. The devotion to Agni is not nature-worship, but a recognition of the awe inspiring power that softens metal, evaporates water, and may bring life or death. Fire is known across the continents and epochs of time to be a gift to humanity from the realm of the gods. We can generally correlate all development of human culture to the harnessing of fire. Jai Agni!
The mystifying reflection of the outside world within the internal, biological workings of the body calls our digestive fire by the same name: Agni. We are able to consume food, and utterly transform the matter through the digestive process. This digestive fire must be monitored, as neglecting its status will invariably bring disease into the body.
There are 4 classifications of the digestive fire within, they are: high, low, variable, and balanced. Here, we will examine these distinctions of Agni.
When the Agni level is high, we encounter the Pitta constitution. This individual has a large appetite, strong circulation, will harbor toxins in the blood, be more prone to bleeding, experience loose stools with occasional diarrhea, and possess a generally strong resistance to disease; however, when disease occurs, it will tend to be sudden and severe, like a heart attack.
In low Agni conditions, we find Kapha types. There will be a weak appetite, lower metabolism, with an ease for gaining weight even while eating less, excess mucus and congestion, poor circulation, prevalent bouts with colds and flu’s, while disease will tend to be less severe.
When the Agni is variable, we see the Vata constitution. There will be periods of a strong appetite or even rampant hunger, alternating with a loss of appetite or forgetting to eat. The gut will experience gas, bloating, and constipation; circulation and resistance to disease will oscillate between strength and vulnerability. Debilitating diseases and long-term derangement of the nervous system is more common here.
When the Agni is balanced, there will be a normal, regular appetite, routinely stoked with scheduled meals. The focus will be more on maintaining rather than augmenting the digestive fire, so natural, not strongly spiced foods will suffice. There will be regular bowel movements, little gas, and a heightened sensory acuity, mental clarity, and overall vitality.
So, how do we consciously tend to our unique quality of Agni? If an increase of the digestive fire is desired, pungent, sour, and salty tastes will help. Spices in general will boost Agni, as the qualities of the two are identical: hot, dry, light, and fragrant.
With a high Agni, avoid spices. Instead, take digestive bitters such as aloe, barberry, and gentian, which will lower Agni without increasing toxins. If Agni is low, hot spices are good such as cayenne, ginger, and black pepper. With a variable Agni, spices and salts such as asafoetida, ginger, cumin, and rock salts will be of service. If Agni is balanced, then maintenance is key where mild spices such as cardamom, turmeric, coriander and fennel will preserve the homeostasis.
Beyond diet, Agni can also be increased through exercise, yoga asana, deep breathing such as pranayama, meditation, fasting, frequent small-meals, and sleeping less. Agni is decreased by damp, heavy, oily, and sweet foods, except for ghee; which in small amounts increases the digestive fire. A sedentary lifestyle, with too much sleep or sex will decrease the Agni.
It is true that we are not healthy from what we eat, but by our bodies ability to metabolize and digest what we eat. The gut health protocol we offer will help address your Agni, and cultivate a wholesome, nourishing lifestyle to maximize your body’s ability to generate life. Ayur (life) Veda (study) will illuminate how much life is present in the individual, and through this science, provide the proper means to attaining your full potential.
- Ayurvedic Healing, a Comprehensive Guide, David Frawley