By Angela Glaz
500 Hour E-RYT and Founder of Eka Yoga
What is Agni
In Ayurveda, agni is the element of fire and is described as being the main source of life. Being considered the main source of life is not to be understated. Agni’s primary functions are digestion, assimilation, transformation, and absorption, and these functions don’t just pertain to food. Our bodies digest everything we hear, see, feel, smell, taste, and eat. When our bodies put these functions into use, they are turning matter into energy. If our bodies cannot digest (agni is weak), that matter turns into ama or toxins. Therefore, efficient digestion nourishes and sustains every tissue and organ in our bodies and inefficient digestion causes indigestion, which Ayurveda believes is the root of all diseases.
A great way to visualize agni is to think of our stomachs as a giant pot. When we eat, all of our food goes into that pot, but unless the stove is on or there is a fire burning underneath that pot, nothing is going to be cooked.
How to Increase Agni
Agni is said to lie in our solar plexus or our abdomen region, so anytime we can bring heat to that area of the body we are helping to create a robust metabolic fire.
- Eat when you’re happy. Eat when you’re hungry.
- Eat in moderation.
- Don’t drink cold beverages with your meals.
- Drink tea or eat soup before meals.
- Drink warm water or tea after meals.
If you're looking for some assistance with keeping that fire burning during the holidays, check out Cook an Ayurvedic Thanksgiving
- Navasana (boat pose)
- Any type of sit up
- Engage in at least one aerobic activity a day where you break a sweat.
Abhyanga (self-massage) – Using either sesame oil or a specific Abhyanga oil, massage your belly in clock-wise circles for 2-5 minutes. This should help reduce any excess gas or air that has built up in the stomach and is causing indigestion.