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:
- Vata: Vishamagni – when it’s deranged, it creates bloating, constipation, intestinal cramps, gas, diverticulitis,
- Pitta: Tikshnagni – When it’s deranged, it creates heartburns, excessive thirst, loose stool, burning sensations in intestines, hypoglycaemia
- 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
- 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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