According to Ayurveda, Agni is a form of digestive fire that enables the absorption of nutrients and the disposal of waste from our bodies. In Ayurveda it is thought that indigestion leads to physical disease and the key to good health lies in the proper functioning of Agni. When Agni is weak our digestion suffers and there is a build up of toxins (examples are having a coated tongue, clouded urine, excess mucus and body odour), as well as a lack of energy and vigour for life, which over time can lead to ill health and disease. How can we stimulate and maintain Agni? Agni is said to be located in the solar plexus (the abdominal region between the naval and the lower ribs). Here are some examples of how your yoga practice can help to stimulate Agni and some nutritional advice to ensure that Agni is maintained and stays in balance. Yoga Practice:
Kapalbhati Pranayama – Skull Shining Breath. This breathing technique requires the "pumping" of the abdomen to create short, quick, active out breaths, stimulating the abdominal area. This pranayama is best done on an empty stomach, sitting comfortably take a long breath in then actively pull the navel back and in towards the spine, allowing the breath to abruptly leave the body through the nose, allow the inhalation to be passive. Repeat this pattern of breathing up to 20 times and then take a moment to feel the affects of the practice.There are many postures available which will help to stimulate and strengthen the abdomen. To create strength in this area try some gentle abdominal exercises such as stomach crunches or holding Navasana (boat pose) for 5-10 breaths and repeating. Twisted postures are also a great way of simulating the solar plexus, a reclining twist is a nice restorative way, or try Parivrtta Anjaneyasana (twisted lunge) for a more dynamic option.
Eat a balanced diet that compliments your dosha, this is the best way of keeping Agni balanced and functioning correctly.Drink a warm cup of water and lemon juice in the morning 30 minutes before food to kick start the digestion.Eat the largest meal of the day at lunch time when Agni is at it’s strongest.Intermittent fasting or detoxing (such as the kitchari detox) is a great way of relieving the digestive system.Try not to drink whilst eating food, as the liquid will dilute the digestive fluids. Eat when hungry rather than over eating so as not to overwhelm the digestive system.Have the last meal of the day at least 3 hours before bed so the body has time to digest the food before sleep.Use stimulating herbs and spices in cooking, such as ginger, cinnamon, fennel and cumin to invigorate digestive fluids.