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“To eat is human, to digest is divine.” When those profound words were first spoken thousands of years ago, never could these wise seers have anticipated just how much this simple knowledge would be needed. In this first episode of the Ayurveda Series 2, we are going to dive into the world of digestive fire, also known as Agni.
Welcome back to the show. I’m your host Nick Broadhurst, and that song you were listening to was one of my recent singles called Thank You which will be released on my album come June 29th, and is actually the title track of my debut album, which is called Thank You. I have also just finished filming the Sydney leg of the music video which I can’t wait to share with you. It’s a really epic concept that could liberate and heal so many people… but you will have to wait and see ;)
Before you start with Ayurveda Series 2, please hit pause, and go back and listen to Ayurveda Series 1, which starts at episode 21 through to 24. I will link to these episodes in today’s show notes at iamnickbroadhurst.com/77.
I spoke in my last episode number 76, Just Gimme The Goddamn Hamburger!… about how food really has been somewhat of a spiritual assignment for me. Each of us have our own unique relationship with food, but we all have one thing in common…. Health, is a byproduct of our spiritual practice. You could even go so far as saying that Health is a byproduct of enlightenment.
In Ayurveda, the ancient vedic system of medicine and science of life, Agni, not only represents your ability to digest food, your digestive fire, but also your ability to digest thoughts and emotions. I am soooo excited to be talking to you about this today!
Agni is one of the most important things you will ever understand. When you really get it, you can start to see how everything is tied together. It is the gatekeeper of good health.
There is a long list of functions which Agni governs, including…
- Digestive enzymes
- Your digestion, absorption and assimilation of nutrients
- The health of your tissues
- Your strength and energy levels
- Ojas, Tejas, Prana, which we will talk more about in this series
- Body temperature regulation
- Cellular integrity
- Our ability to enjoy life
- Longevity…and many more functions
When our Agni is balanced…
- We have vibrant energy
- Mental clarity
- Glowing skin
- Clear white eyes
- Fresh breath
- A balanced sensation of hunger for our next meal
- Good immunity
- Restful sleep
- Regular healthy bowel movements and well formed stools
- Natural energy
- Normal blood pressure
- We can digest our foods
- Our weight is balanced
- Our body maintains homeostasis
- Our tongue is clean with no Ama, which is a build up of toxins which can be scraped off
When our Agni is imbalanced…
- We feel sleepy after a meal .. in fact, this is one of the best ways to know if our digestive fire is weak
- Our appetite can be either very weak, or too strong
- We can get gassy, bloated and loose stools
- Our energy can be very low, we can feel fatigued
- Our emotions can sway towards anxiety, depression, anger and confusion
That’s are just a few signs of having impaired Agni. Now, one amazing thing we can all come to understand more, is where do we sit amongst all this? How is our digestion, our Agni? To navigate this, we need to first understand the four types of Agni. And, I do want to add, that this is an overview, and you may recognise some traits straight away and be able to implement some simple strategies to start rebalancing your Agni, but if you can, find an Ayurvedic practitioner in your local area, or work with someone over Skype like Laura Plumb, Dr Stephen Cabral, or Dr Suhas Kshirsagar. I will link to all of these in the show notes at iamnickbroadhurst.com/77.
So the first type of Agni is called Sama Agni, which is essentially where we all want to be. This is when our Agni is balanced. All those benefits I mentioned before such as strong immunity, glowing skin, boundless energy, clear eyes, contentment, satisfaction and even bliss… comes from Sama Agni. Sama Agni is an ideal, and in this world it’s not all that easy to reach and maintain. But it certainly is where we want to aim for.
Next we have Vishama Agni, which manifests as irregular metabolism. Picture this as erratic Agni which comes from excess Vata. Vata has the qualities of light, dry, subtle and clear. These are qualities that can actually be supportive of Agni, but Vata is also cold which can disrupt healthy agni by dampening it’s heat. The wind can also either gently stoke and intensify the fire, or it can slow it down briefly if there is a sudden breeze, or if it blows too strong for too long it can blow it out completely. This has been my lesson over the years as a Vata Pitta, to maintain my agni. Too often my Vata can become imbalanced by my Pitta drive and fire, and out goes my digestive fire.
Symptoms of Vishama agni are things like gas, constipation, irregular appetite, heaviness after eating, cravings for hot and spicy foods, receding gums, dry skin, joints that crack a lot (this is a clear sign for me each morning when I am out of balance), insomnia and feelings of fear or anxiety. You can also see it on the back of your tongue as a brownish or black coating. To balance Vishama agni you will want to follow a Vata pacifying diet and lifestyle which I will cover in episode 81.
Now onto Tikshna Agni which can also be seen as hypermetabolism. You can picture this as being too hot and sharp. Tikshna Agni comes about from excess Pitta. Now Pitta has qualities such as being hot, sharp, light and spreading, but when Pitta is in excess it can cause the digestive fire to burn too hot and too fast. Your food can pass through too quickly, and I guess you could picture it as being thrown into a volcano… it gets totally burned up and leaves no nourishment for your tissues. If you have more of a Tikshna agni, you will most likely have an insatiable appetite, you can get angry or irritated if you don’t eat on time, you may get acid reflux, heartburn, hot flashes. The tongue can appear yellow or green in the middle region of your tongue, and your skin may show signs of angry redness in the form of hives, rashes and acne. You may have guessed by now that to balance Tikshna agni you need to follow a Pitta pacifying diet and lifestyle which I will cover in the upcoming episode number 82.
And last, you probably also guessed it, is the type of Agni imbalance that is caused by an excess of Kapha. This is called Manda Agni, which is characterized by hypometabolism, which you can picture as slow and dull. Kapha which is made up of the water and earth elements is heavy, dense, soft, smooth, cool, oily and slow. All qualities that don’t go so well with having a healthy digestive fire wen in excess. It’s important that I point out something here… all of the qualities of Vata, Pitta and Kapha contribute to a healthy digestive fore, it’s when they are in excess that the flame either gets too strong or too weak. And with Manda agni, in excess it creates a slow and sluggish digestive system. If you ever feel lethargic, unmotivated to exercise, congested, get frequent colds, cold clammy skin, water retention and allergies, these can be signs of Manda agni. Your tongue can appear to have a white coating on the entire tongue. Conditions such as diabetes, obesity and hypothyroidism can be signs of Manda agni. And, as you will now know, Manda agni can be rebalanced by following a Kapha pacifying diet and lifestyle which I will cover in episode 83.
Ok, so now hopefully you are convinced that Agni is important! I am really excited about what I am going to be sharing with you in this Ayurveda Series 2. Coming up next we will take a look at how to rekindle your digestive fire, the root of all disease which is called Ama, the antidote to ageing which is called Ojas and then we will dive into each of the diets to pacify the three doshas or body types known as Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
I would love to hear from you, so please tag me @iamnickbroadhurst on social media. Please also leave me a comment below (I read every single one!). And if you could take a minute to leave me a review on iTunes I would be very grateful. Tell me what you want more of! I am at your service.
P.S. Always listen to your intuition (and your doctor or practitioner) before trying any new health practice.