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Ayurvedas Agni & Āma

What is agni and what is āma and why is it so important in the world of Āyurveda? The importance of your digestion in creating balance.

Āyurveda, what is it about?

A while ago I shared that in my yoga therapy training, there is a lot of Ayurveda being shared. I found this interesting a few years ago, but it never stuck. Now there is Mona, my Ayurveda teacher and she is fantastic. She explains Ayurveda in a way that I can understand. The spark was ignited in 2021 during yoga therapy training and next year I’ll enter into Ayurvedic health counselor training!

Instead of focusing on the so-called doshas: ​​vata, kapha and pitta, which are quite complicated, Mona focuses more on agni and āma (and on much more, but that’s for a later share).

Agni is your so-called digestive fire. The stronger your agni is, the better your body is able to digest. This means that your body can process the food as much as possible and that it can properly dispose of what it does not use. It’s also mental, physical and emotional. How do you deal with emotions, do you create space for them so that they do not get stuck in your body, can your body move? So it’s much broader than just nutrition.

Āma is the stagnation, the waste products that get stuck in your body and thereby reduce its functionality. For example the white / yellow / brown deposit on your tongue in the morning. The stronger your agni, the more vital you are. Everything is in balance. The more āma, the more imbalance and possibly disease.

It's all about creating and maintaining balance.

You do this by feeling and listening to your body and seeing it in relation to your environment, the season, your phase of life, etc. It sounds pretty straight forward and in a way it is. Lot’s of things you’re probably already doing, Ayurveda just gives it a name and explanation.

Everything consists of cycles.

The days, months, years and our lives all have a cycle, which can also be variable. It is interesting to observe what you eat or what is happening around you and how your body or mind reacts to it.

For instance when you’re a kid and growing, you can do and need very different things than when you’re 70 years old. Children naturally have stronger agnis, which is why they bounce back so easily.

For a lot of women there is also a difference in there energy level during menses compared to ovulation.

Āma becomes a real problem when it gets stuck.

If you do too much or eat things your body doesn’t digest well (gives you gass, bloating, pain etc) your agni can’t digest it all and āma will be created. Nothing wrong with a bit of āma, we all have it, but it does become a problem if it gets stuck. Think of cholesterol, we need it for our health, just not in big amounts stuck in our bloodvessels. In other places if there is build op of āma, inflammation happens. Think of all the intestinal discomforts and diseases that are out there. Your agni is also the thing that burns the āma when there is too much of it, but not if it’s weak. Ayurveda has some great practices to help you move out some of that āma.

Ayuveda’s morning routine.

A good morning routine, also called dinacharya, is half the battle and can strengthen your agni and move out āma.
The body in general does well with rest and regularity. What a good morning routine is, depends on what works for you.

My current morning routine is as follows: getting up on time, tongue scraping, brushing teeth, drinking warm water, meditation, yoga/movement, going to the toilet (until here is all āma removal) and breakfast. Every now and then I do a nasal rinse (jala neti) and oiling (nasya) and since a few days I stopped using oil on my body (abhyanga), because it was rainy warm days, and my skin started to get too oily. When I was in the Netherlands I oiled my body every day before yoga and usually shower after yoga. You give your body time to absorb the oil and then you can rinse everything that remains so that it does not clog your pores and becomes āma. Depending on the day, the season and my own cycle, the morning routine changes.

In addition, lunch should be or become the main meal.

Your agni is strongest during the warmest part of the day, which makes it more able to digest more heavy and complex foods.  A light meal in the evening will be enough. The more attention you give your food when you eat it, the more your body will be able to get out of it. Where attention goes, energy flows, and so your agni is better off digesting your meal while your eating, then the input from tv or mobile device.

It’s a whole world in itself and I’m learning a lot from it! I keep looking for what works for me, what is feasible and how it makes me feel. Trying something, see if it works and then keep it or not. And sometimes life turns out differently and I just get up and have breakfast. But since I get up earlier again, I really feel a lot more awake and energetic than when I stay in bed for too long and it. It’s all about balance and finding what works for you!

If you find this interesting be sure to sign up for my upcoming free webinar (in October or November, I’ll keep you posted once you sign up) on yoga therapy and Āyurveda. Here I will share some basic info and easy tools to support you in increasing your well-being. It’s also an introduction to the Āyurveda workshop that is coming up and the Yoga therapy courses.