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| Building Resilience and Strength Through Agni
Agni & Metabolic Fire
Although agni literally means fire, in the body Agni measures your strength, power and resilience, and may be compared to your metabolism. In the digestive tract, good agni builds a healthy appetite and helps you digest food. Poor agni, like poor appetite, is a sign of illness. As any parent knows, children lose their appetite when sick.
In the body, agni gives our organs the strength to work well. In our mind, agni gives us emotional strength and stability. Good agni brings vitality, clarity and enthusiasm. Ayurveda pays careful attention to building and maintaining agni. Agni is a Sanskrit word that is derived from the same root as the Latin word 'ignite'.
Signs of Good Agni
- Brightness in the eyes
- Good appetite
- Regular elimination
- Well formed stools
Since agni has the qualities (gunas) of lightness, hot, dry, subtle, and clear, we use substances with those qualities to build agni. An example is black pepper, whose heating qualities stimulate the agni in the stomach.
Building Agni and Burning Ama
Pitta people can generally improve their digestion with bitters. Vata and Kapha people can increase their agni and burn ama
by anything sharp, including the following:
- Drink small sips of warm water
- Herbal teas with spices such as ginger, black pepper, fennel, cumin, cinnamon, and cardamom.
- A wedge of lime with a slice of fresh ginger and a pinch of salt before meals.
- Rice & vegetable soups with spices
- Skip a meal or fast for the day until the appearance of true hunger.
- Restorative stretching
- Daily use of triphala.
If there is not too much ama, light exercise, yoga, and massage will help build strong agni. Avoid any activity that causes you to sweat or raise the heart rate when you have excess ama. Otherwise, blood vessels will expand and push ama into areas where circulation is normally poor, such as your joints. When you are finished exercising, your blood vessels will close again, trapping the ama in the joint space. For this reason, one should avoid strenuous yoga or exercise when there is constipation, gas, or bloating.
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