Agni: The Digestive Fire and Support of the Immune System
Our food contains solar energy which can only be utilized by the body through digestion. The types of foods and liquids we consume must be transformed into substances that can be absorbed though the stomach lining to nourish the many tissues types of the body. Different enzymes are responsible for this transformation in the body. Ayurveda uses the term agni to describe these “fiery” enzymes and metabolic processes. Without agni, it would be impossible to digest any of our food or any sensory data.
One way to support the digestive fire and the immune system is by consuming whole natural foods and liquids processed as little as possible.
This is Dr. Vasant Lad’s (Ayervedic physician) recipe for Agni Tea. This tea is beneficial as an aid for the digestive process that maximizes the digestion of consumed food. The digestive fire or agni regulates temperature, performs digestion, absorption, assimilation of ingested food, and transforms food into energy or consciousness.
Agni Tea is a simple beverage that helps to regulate and stimulate your digestive capacity, improving all the functions of digestive agni.
1 pinch cayenne pepper
2 handfuls minced ginger root
2 Tbs. Sucanat or other natural sweetener
1 to 2 tsp. rock salt
How to Prepare:
Bring the above ingredients to a boil for 20 minutes. Remove pot from heat source and cool for a few minutes.
Add the juice of ½ lime (cooling qualities to offset the heat of ginger and cayenne)). Do not boil the lime juice. Pour into a thermos and enjoy throughout the day.
Yields 4-5 cups.
Adapted from an article by:
The Ayurvedic Institute
Try this wonderful Spring Ayurvedic Spice Mix
Makes about ¼ cup
1 tbsp. whole coriander seed, 1 tsp. fenugreek seed, 1 tbsp. whole cumin seed, 1 tbsp. turmeric powder, 1 tbsp. ginger powder, 1 tsp. black pepper, ¼ tsp cayenne pepper, pinch of clove powder
Dry roast in a heavy bottomed skillet the following: coriander, fenugreek, and cumin seeds for just a few minutes until you can sense their aroma in the air. Cool completely. When cool, combine them with the rest of the ingredients and grind them until there is a uniform and smooth consistency.
Transfer them to a shaker so they can be sprinkled on food dishes with ease and joy. Enjoy!
Spring Spice Recipe
(from: Kate O”Donnell: The Everyday Ayurveda Cookbook)
The ABC’s of my Life
Attitude of Gratitude– First thing in the morning, I dwell on 5 things that I feel gratitude towards. I use the tool of gratitude to shift out of fear and negative thinking. I keep the company of high vibrational energy by connecting with the natural world. With the awakening of nature there is so much awe and wonder I experience. I feel this in my heart! The sighting of an animal, the music of the wind through the trees, the scents from the earth, the feeling of the sun on my body. The sounds of others enjoying nature. My awareness that by connecting with nature, my body manufactures vitamin D that bolsters my immune system, helps me to maintain a circadian rhythm natural to a daytime (diurnal) orientation and way of life, and helps to bolster my immune system through connection to something outside of myself. I feel part of a greater whole. This feeds my Spirit and re-connects my soul. I feel part of life. I become more sensitive to the different entities and Beings around me, and my appreciation grows with the awareness that in life I am inter-dependent. What happens to another directly or indirectly affects me. And so, I affect others.
I tend to my thoughts and fortify the thoughts that are positive, kind, loving and productive in supporting my actions. I weed out the negative thoughts using my exhalation, I come back to the present moment using the gateway of the breath and feeling the sensations of my body. Current Science reminds me that what I think, I become. I may not have a choice of my first thought, but I certainly have a choice of my second and then my actions. What am I choosing to think in this moment? As I monitor and work with my thoughts, I have sensed a liberation and freedom. Positive thoughts are also correlated with the health of the immune system. A great incentive! An activity that I have found extremely helpful is the use of a mantra or positive affirmation. I repeat this mantra at random to tame and redirect my wild mind sometimes filled with thoughts that can be relentless! My favorite manta is the sound OM. This is the seed sound of all languages. It is the hum that the astronauts heard from their spacecraft while meditating on the beauty of our planet. The vibration of this sound is healing and calming. It de-stresses me and keeps my immune system strong. I love humming OM when feeling stressed or just to touch in with a healing vibration and preventative medicine. I practice a bone OM. I may begin with a low sounding Om, then take it within and feel the vibration in my bones. We are mostly comprised of water, and this vibration heals the body by chasing out stress, tension and dis-ease. Try it sometime! You will be amazed!
Just Breathe- My breath is the dictator of the tempo of my body, as my thoughts create my reality. I practice a 3-part breath called the Yogic Breath or the Complete Breath. I gradually take progressively deep breaths filling the lower part of my lung, the middle and then upper parts. I allow my belly to distend to provide the maximum space for my lungs to expand. When I exhale my navel/belly button comes towards my spine and I feel the sensations of letting go in a sweet surrender. I then feel the sensations of accepting the breath of life. This helps me to foster trust in the process of receiving and giving. This breathing technique keeps the muscles of my lungs elastic and healthy. A relaxing breath I practice is inhaling to the count of 6 and exhaling to the count of 8. By elongating my exhalation, I connect to the part of my nervous system (para-sympathetic) that helps my body to relax and digest. I feel calmness and I am more able to steer clear of being reactionary and becoming stressed out. Stress weakens the immune system. Daily, I lovingly challenge myself to take 3 random deep breaths. I notice that they help me to reset and come out of the penthouse of the head. I feel connection and wholeness. I begin tuning into and “hearing” my body, heart and Spirit. A contemporary defining principle that has become indicative of health and healing.
Circulation- I tend to the flow of energy through my body through what I refer to as Mindful Motion (Yoga) and gentle stretching. These movements encourage and stimulate the energy that runs through the 12 channels coursing and connecting the body. When energy is moving through the body, we experience health and well-being. When it gets “stuck”, we can experience tension and pain.
We do fun circular motions for our joints in our Yoga classes. By circling our joints, our bodies can manufacture and produce the fluid (synovial) and distribute it to lubricate and protect the points where bones meet. Neck rolls, bringing shoulders forward, back and down, trunk twists, and rotations of knees and ankles are the basis of these Range of Movement activities. Lion’s pose (ask me about this pose 😊) helps the synovial joint of the jaw. Don’t forget the wrists. Start your circles small and check-in with your body as you grow them. We never force or disregard levels of discomfort or pain in the body. These are signals from letting us know that we need to modify what we are doing. We honor the wisdom of the body and accept where we are each time we practice yoga.
In Eastern traditional medicine, energy centers called chakras, are positioned in the palms, feet, between the eyebrows, in the crown of the head, and along the spinal column. These spinning centers energetically nourish the area around them. If we experience a halt in their motion through these channels or in a chakra, we experience dis-ease. The antidote is to resume this energetical flow. Intentional and mindful movement is the medicine and way that we can be preventative regarding optimum health and well-being.
We welcome you! Debbie
LMT, BCST (Biodynamic CranialSacral Therapist), Energy Worker and Yoga Instructor, Massage Instructor