Mar 16, 2023 | Digestion
Supremacy of Jaṭharāgni
There are many different agnis (fires, enzyme) in the body and mind. Ayurvedic students study the five bhutuagnis that reside in the liver and seven dhatuagnis that reside in the tissues. All play an important role in maintaining the health of the body. However, it is the jatharagni that is supreme among them all. What happens to the jatharagni, affects all other agnis.
Jaṭharāgni is the main digestive fire. Jaṭhara means stomach or abdomen. The agni that resides here controls all the fires of the body and mind. If it rises, so do the others. If it is diminished, so are the others. Hence, if digestion is healthy, the rest of the body has the best chance of being healthy. So does the mind. If digestion is not healthy, the rest of the body and mind can not be healthy.
In Ayurveda, optimal health of the body begins with healthy digestion!
Based in part on Caraka Samhita, Cikitssthana XV 38-41. Classes at the California College of Ayurveda begin year round. For more information, check out our website: ayurvedacollege.com. Be well, Be kind, Be love!
Dec 9, 2022 | Digestion
Avasthāpāka: The Three Stages of Digestion
The word avasthāpāka comes from two words, avasthā and pāka. Avasthā means “stage” and pāka means “digestion.” Thus, the term avasthāpāka means “the stage of digestion.”
There are three stages of digestion as food moves through the digestive tract. These stages are described by the location of the dominant doṣha acting on the food and its influence on the digestive process.
- The first stage of digestion is the kapha or sweet stage. This stage dominates in the mouth and the upper half of the stomach.Here the watery components of saliva and the alkaline secretions of the stomach mix with the food.
- The second stage of digestion is the pitta or sour stage. This stage dominates in the lower half of the stomach and the small intestine. Here the fiery components of the acid secretions of the stomach and the enzymes and bile within the small intestine mix with the food and further transform the food into āhāra rasa (nutrient substance used to build tissue )
- The third stage of digestion is the vāta or pungent stage. This stage dominates the activity within the large intestine. In this phase of digestion, the food remains (annakiṭṭa) undergo a drying process. Water is absorbed and the remaining indigestible earth element is discarded.
Dec 9, 2022 | Digestion, Kapha, Vata
Digestion and Weight, Paschimottanasana,
This beautiful asansa offers many benefits to health and well-being. From a purely physical, structural perspective, its easy to see that this asana stretches the muscles of the lower back and hamstrings offering those who practice regularly greater flexibility in general. However, one of the most important benefits according to the texts of Hatha Yoga like the Siva Samhita is that this asana kindles agni – the power of digestion. In addition, the Siva Samhita states that this asana also brings mastery of vata dosha – the air the disturbs digestion. Hence, this asana reduces vata and kapha doshas. Those who have a pitta imbalance (vikruti) should use some caution as this asana increases heat. This is especially true if a person experience GERD or hyperacidity.
Because this asana helps balance both vata and kapha doshas, it can be used to help manage vata-kapha type weight gain. This is weight gain that has its origin in anxiety eating. Indeed, this asana is very grounding and centering – reducing anxiety. Combined with stabilizing or increasing agni, weight slowly comes off. Naturally, for this purpose, the practice should be combined with a vata-kapha pacifying diet and lifestyle.
Caution should be taken by those who have back problems caused by a disc herniation as this can aggravate the back pain. However, not all low back pain has it’s origin in the disc. Please take care and if there is pain, decrease or eliminate the practice.
Nov 17, 2022 | Ayurvedic Botanicals, Digestion
Vishmagni, Tikshnagni and Mandagni are caused by their doshic predominance respectively (vata, pitta, kapha), while samagni (balanced agni) is caused by the normalcy of all doshas”. Ashtang Samgraha, Ch.1, vs. 24.
Here, we find the three states of agni (digestive fire); variable, high and low. Vata vitiation causes variable agni. Pitta vitiation causes high agni. Kapha vitiation causes low agni. When the doshas are in a healthy state however agni is balanced and healthy. When agni is healthy, digestion works well. When digestion works well, there is no ama (toxicity from digestion) and ojas is formed. Ojas protects the body from disease. Hence, a wise person guards their agni through following a proper diet, by taking food properly, and by following healthy daily and seasonal routines.
About the Image: Agni is so important that it was worshiped as one of the most important ancient Vedic Gods. More hymns were sung to the God Agni in the Vedas than any other God. The God Agni is the source of all fire, even the sun, and the source of all light. In the body, there are many types of agni that regulate metabolism. Agni’s light is the light that illuminates consciousness.
Mar 16, 2022 | Digestion, Ayurvedic Botanicals
Digestive health is your wealth. Balanced digestion is the cornerstone to a healthy life in Ayurveda. Ayurvedic treatment typically begins with addressing digestion. Ayurveda determines the root cause of any digestive upset. Upon consultation, information is gathered about the individual’s diet. This includes not only what they are eating, but how they are eating and eliminating – which can be even more important. Then, a valued food plan is created and tailored to that person’s unique constitution, Vata, Pitta, or Kapha.
Many people overlook minor digestive symptoms. Indigestion is bandaged with medications. Relief may occur, but the root cause is not addressed. Ayurveda says: what and how we eat will determine how we feel. This is true both immediately after eating and in the long term.
It is easy to overlook mild digestive symptoms. Symptoms include constipation, gas, sluggish digestion, and acid reflux. If ignored for long enough, more serious conditions may manifest. If what we consume is not properly digested, our bodily tissues will not receive the value from our food and can even be negatively affected. Toxins can accumulate in the body and enter our tissues, compromising their function. Ayurveda emphasizes healthy eating guidelines and encourages the development of awareness of even the mildest digestive symptoms. Oftentimes, illness can be cured by diet and lifestyle alone.
Want to learn more about living a balanced life through an Ayurvedic diet and healthy digestion? Check out this 7-module video course by Dr. Marc Halpern.