By Caitlin Rose
200hr E-RYT & Ayurvedic Counselor
Agni translates to “the transforming force” and is our bodies ability to digest what we take in; from food, to water, to emotions, conversations, even thoughts and sensations. Agni is responsible for all digestion, absorption and assimilation; discerning what our body will keep and what it will pass along for elimination, in regards to our internal and external input. When our Agni is highly functioning we are able to properly filter out that which does not serve us and find nourishment from the rest. That proper nourishment is what keeps our vital energies plentiful, our immunity strong and thus establish sustained vitality. When Agni is impaired, weak or variable we experience emotional disturbances, with an increased tendency towards fear, anxiety, anger, lethargy or depression; all of which are due to an increased amount of toxic matter or waste in the body. This malfunction of our Agni is what eventually causes us to feel low in energy, weak or fatigue. As well as congestion in the sinuses, the lymph or even the mind.
The best yoga practice we can do to help increase energy, would be a yoga practice directed at enhancing, or rebalancing, our Agni. When we are feeling heavy or lethargic due to low energy and a low digestive fire, we are typically addressing an imbalance or excess of Kapha dosha. This shows up more often in the months of spring, but can occur throughout the year at other times. Some signs of excess Kapha dosha would include phlegm, congestion in the chest, a persistent cough, poor digestion (indigestion), swelling, high blood pressure, excessive salivation or a low appetite.
Here we must acknowledge that excess Kapha in the body is not just causing heaviness in our digestive system, but also our lymphatic system as the accumulated matter that is causing us to feel heavy is a result of the lymphatic system failing to drain properly, allowing toxins and cellular waste products to accumulate in the body. Therefore, the best yoga practice to increase energy will focus on reducing excess Kapha by stimulating the digestive fire and creating movement of this accumulated matter through the lymphatic system.
This yoga sequence should focus on relaxing the body to reduce tension. It should start by opening the hips to release accumulated tension and create a sense of feeling grounded and calm. It should stimulate the metabolism by opening and strengthening the side body (reducing heaviness in the abdominal organs) and inversions to move lymphatic fluids from places of accumulation to the lymph nodes for removal of accumulated toxins. It should also include some quicker movement, paired with longer holds and twists to generate heat and movement within. Whenever possible, add small backbends to support the opening of the chest, the primary location where lymph tends to accumulate. Most importantly, there should be an emphasis on a sustained, deep, nourishing breath to be the guide towards regenerating the three vital energies of Prana, Tejas and Ojas.
Seated Meditation: Start your practice in a relaxing seat. Start to focus on lengthening and balancing your breath, breathing all of your breath in and out of your belly. This will start to allow your body to switch from the sympathetic state of “fight and flight” and into the parasympathetic state of “rest and digest.” It is here that our body will stop producing cortisol (the stress hormone) and start to find homeostasis, or the balance and maintenance of the body’s systems, particularly within the metabolism (Agni) and immune system (lymph).