Demystify Ayurveda for Digestion Discomfort: The imperfection of the Perfectionist, Agni (Digestive Fire) and Pitta Imbalances

Your gut is your second brain. How healthy your gut is determines how balanced you are with your attitudes towards life. Accordingly to Ayurveda, any indigestion in the gut is caused by Agni (digestive fire) derangement.

When we address Agni, we will not forget about the key Pitta dosha as basis of Ayurveda principle. What is Pitta in Ayurveda? Pitta is an invisible energetic source as part of the key 3 doshas in Ayurveda. A combination of fire and water creates Pitta dosha. Pitta governs our metabolism process, regulating our digestion and our lifestyle. If we look at the life spams of a human being, Pitta is our peak time after young adults to mid-age. In our body, we also have Pitta sitting in different organs that is in charge of our digestion called Agni. Agni is the fire in our body if you like to call it in a simpler term. In total, we have 13 Agnis in our body. In our digestive tract, it is called Jathara-Agni. In the digestive track, this particular type of Agni meets with tri-doshas, as a result, they form 4 special types of Agni. When Agni is weak, the internal wastes will aggravate and eventually manifest in diseases. To keep it simple and short, these are 4 types of Jathara-sub-Agni below:

  1. Vata: Vishamagni – when it’s deranged, it creates bloating, constipation, intestinal cramps, gas, diverticulitis,
  2. Pitta: Tikshnagni – When it’s deranged, it creates heartburns, excessive thirst, loose stool, burning sensations in intestines, hypoglycaemia
  3. Kapha: Mandagni- when it’s deranged, it creates heaviness after meals, stagnant in stomach, chest, lungs and nasal areas, sluggish and sticky bowels, bulky stools, excessive mucous, slow digestion and excessive craving for sugar, diary and breads
  4. Balanced: Samaagni – smooth bowels, regular and good appetite and good digestion with a clear head

When we assess a client, Agni is one of the key parameters to understand the root of the cause. In Ayurveda, all diseases are caused due to indigestion of food or life experiences. Agni doesn’t only help us break down the food but also assimilate our mental emotions. Treatment of the symptoms is incomplete unless we address the mental imbalances that facilitate its development. The best medication to cure any bowel disease is a calm mind and relaxation.

Also as Agni shares similar quality of Pitta – a very Rajastic (action-oriented) attitudes towards life. When we are nervous and stressed, we sometimes contract the abdominal muscles unconsciously, like holding the breaths. When we are over disciplined and setting a high expectation of ourselves, excessive Pitta will result in excessive Tikshnagni in our digestive tract. Acid reflex and its bi-products of heart burns and dizziness may come along. This world nowadays is over pricing Pitta attitudes, do it all and do it fast, that has created an unhealthy environment to over compete. When we are not living up to the idealistic standard we have set forth for our selves or others, we become over-critical and controlling. This will create a lot of digestive issues and ulcer symptoms.

The sensation of burning is a sign of excessive Pitta. When you are over burning your body and digestion tract, you are prone to burn out. When the demand of the society is going out of control and exceeding our mental capability, your gut will show you it’s time to “slow down.”

What will help?

Start “deep belly breath” 3 times before each meal. Chew your food. In Ayurveda, we save 1/3 of empty space in the stomach, 1/3 for solid food and 1/3 for liquid. Eating moderately and snack lightly.

Remove 20% of your daily to-do list. Stop self-blame when you are not achieving your goals. And it is okay not to be BUSY or Productive all the time.

Slow down and relaxation is the panacea for Pitta imbalances. Cultivate a balanced life style to make space in your life. When we are empty, we then can receive. And if we are always on the go, our mind is too busy consuming and digesting a hundred of things – when can you make head space so the digestion can resume to normal? Fasting is also a great way to reset and rekindle your Agni if you are a Pitta or Kapha dominant body type. In Autumn, a Vata season, it’s best not to over fast fully. Easy 24 hours fast 1-2 times a month on weak ginger tea or juice will be a great way to detox. (please consult with an experienced Ayurvedic practitioner or a certified nutrients)

As for the Psychology, an unwillingness of expressing vulnerability and asking for help will also increase Pitta imbalances. Perhaps it’s time to ask for help now. Sometimes we worry about over burden people with our challenges and difficulties. However, now is the best time to ask and receive help from people around us. A time during the pandemic is the time to really break our old patterns to build resilience to deal with the unknowns.

So pick up the phone, call someone who can listen to your difficulties and ask for help.

It’s okay not to be perfect. It’s okay to make mistakes and that’s how we learn.

Additional tools to help rekindle the Agni is to also learn to relax and let its function to normalize by taking advantages of Yoga Nidra (Yogi Sleep Meditation), Yin Yoga, Ayurveda Yoga Therapy for Vata/ Pitta, and Meditation. Stomach, liver, gallbladder Chinese meridians are targeted ones to stimulate as well. Below is a video I created to demonstrate few Yoga poses that focus on these meridians to help you release digestive pains or discomforts. Practice with care and patience.

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Demystify Ayurveda: Rheumatoid Diseases – oppression of emotions, a Vata caused illness

In Ayurveda, immunity is vyadhikshamatva in Sanskrit, meaning “forgiveness of disease.” The essence of motherly love is forgiveness.

With the increased measures taking place in Hong Kong these days, I’ve decided to use this down time to study Seth’s Materials by Jane Roberts after my first encounter to Seth’s Materials series 8 years ago. I bought the last Seth’s book called “The Way Toward Health.” To my surprise, Jane Roberts, the medium and author, died from severe Arthritis in her mid 50s in 1984. Another trigger to write about this specific topic is that I’ve consulted many people who currently suffer from various Rheumatoid symptoms. I am suddenly surrounded myself with different severity of rheumatoid diseases and clients that I have gone much deeper than ever on this typical Vata aggravated illness.

In Chinese, Rheumatoid is written as “Wind + Wetness” (written as 風濕 in Traditional Chinese characters), which is alike Ayurveda that also addresses Rheumatoid diseases to Vata caused diseases. When we look at the quality of Vata, which is the combination of Ether & Air, cold, pain, irregular, mobile, dry and cracking manifest themselves in rheumatoid diseases.

Rheumatoid disease like rheumatic fever, rheumatism and rheumatoid arthritis are auto-immune conditions. The Ama (toxins) in the body is tightly wedged into you that some of your own tissues are destroyed by immune reactions. A typical result is that synovial fluid gets clogged and becomes harder to lead to immobility of the body and affect the body functions. The pains are around the joints, like fingers, toes, knees, and ankles that may last few hours to longer to impair the body movements. And rheumatoid arthritis can affect the heart and eventually kill. It has to be treated immediately.

Physiologically, Rheumatoid is called “Ama-Vata” in Sanskrit, which when Vata circulates Ama all throughout the body via Vyana Vayu. (Ama means half-digested food wastes or toxins) The most important initiating cause seems to be improper diet, which creates Ama. Other causes will be overwork exhaustion, excessive exercise, frequent sex, intense worry and strong emotions such as grief. Any Vata aggravated attitudes and lifestyle will worsen the conditions and eventually Kapha imbalances will kick in if initial cause is not uprooted. The sticky, opaque and dense Ama can be found in joints of every sufferer of rheumatoid arthritis. This is different from osteoarthritis, which is due to aging process. In rheumatoid arthritis, the synovial fluid fails to lubricate the joints and clots. Synovial fluid is one of the body’s reservoir of Kapha force. Kapha has a similar caramel characteristic as Ama, which is accumulated in the joints and immobile them.

Vata = Ether + Wind

Psychologically, Rheumatoid is manifested from improper digestion of life experiences. Oppression of strong emotions of griefs, sadness, fears and insecurities and use over-work exhaustion as an escape to “empty the mind” will lead to illness. The avoidance of any strong emotions will lead to physical illness as our cells don’t work with oppression but expansion. And another interesting sign is no desire for food as the emotions will decrease the appetite and the sufferers end up improperly consume food at irregular hours, or eating without appetite, all these behaviours lead to more Ama in the body. Another explanation of psychosis arthritis is that taking a sick leave from work is more widely accepted to the public when the body is down with Rheumatoid diseases than mental disease. It’s a way of coping mechanism in the body to immobilise and condition the extremities without totally disrupting its balance of the mind.

Questions to ask yourself: What is it we are making ourselves unable to move freely? What is it outside that is threatening our identity and security?

There are still many ways to explain how the Rheumatoid disease come about and how to treat accordingly to different medical systems. In Ayurveda, the initial phases before the fluids clogged and impairing the movement ability, Vata is the primary causation to treat. In any Ayurveda consultation, I ask my clients to be 100% honest with themselves if they wish to uproot their causation. It is definitely not easy for Rheumatoid sufferers to face and deal with past hurts as that’s one of the reason that initiates the diseases. The psychological check-in questions I will normally ask, if they are ready, whether if they are escaping a certain role to play in the society or any oppressed strong emotions due to separations (real or potential). The auto-immune system is your war against yourself, there is no intruders from outside. If we can recognise this and start asking the right questions, the healing will begin.

Therefore treating Vata and maybe a combination of Kapha are the common practice according to the severity of the diseases. Ayurveda is working best side by side with modern medicines as you should never replace your acute medical treatment with Ayurveda. Rheumatoid diseases can vary from minor to severe. You should always find an experienced practitioner to understand your imbalances to change your lifestyle and attitudes. My teacher always said if the clients are not doing their homework, please ask them not to come back. It takes 21 days to form a habit, so set your expectation when it comes to treat your diseases as it’s a life-long habit not just present.

Please note that my point of view can vary from other Ayurveda practitioner depending on what their specialities are. If you like my sharing, feel free to re-share (quote the source) and subscribe my blog post. Stay healthy and safe.

Thanks for reading!