Ayurveda: Ama & Agni

May 24, 2013

One of the services I offer is Ayurvedic guidance in healthy living. This means something different for each individual, but there are some basic guidelines that apply to everyone.

Ama and Agni: What are they? How do they affect me? And what can I do about it?

What: Ama is a Sanskrit word translating literally as “undigested”. This can apply to the obvious, food, but can also apply to undigested experiences or emotions. Ultimately, when we have undigested food in our bodies it becomes toxic, and this toxicity builds up until we recognize health ramifications that motivate us to do something about it. The same thing happens when we allow undigested experiences and emotions to build up.

Ayurveda suggests doing something to rid toxicity before it becomes a “condition” and offers ways to enhance digestion of food, experience, and emotions so that we prevent Ama from accumulating.

Agni  is our “digestive fire”, it is the power behind our metabolism of food and experience, and is the most important factor in keeping our bodies Ama-free. If we have the power to digest, then there is no stagnation, build up, and manifestation of Ama as a condition.

How: There are three different states of imbalanced Agni: Vishamagni is digestion that alternates between too fast and too slow, Tikshagni is digestion that is excessively fast, and Mandagni is digestion that is too slow. These states of imbalanced Agni manifest as many different complications affecting any organ system. If you have such complications, the following information is general enough to not be harmful, but an individualized consultation is advisable, and could be the thing to help you turn that condition around. About Ayurvedic Consultations

To Do: Tips for reducing Ama and strengthening Agni:

• Eat a simple diet, consisting of warm, freshly-cooked whole foods

– avoid frozen, canned, leftovers, aged foods, refined, fried foods

• Specifically eat:

– fresh, organic vegetables .

– sweet, juicy fruits.

– whole grains such as quinoa, cous cous, rye, barley, amaranth, millet          and rice.

– and easily digested proteins such as mung dhal or lentil soup.

– Also cooked leafy greens such as chard and kale are especially good for improving elimination and helping to detoxify the body.

• Include gentle warming herbs such as Cumin, Ginger, or small amounts of Cayenne to your food.

• Drink warm water throughout the day

• Drink lassi after a large meal (if you can digest dairy) a drink made in the blender with one part freshly made yogurt, four parts water, and salt or honey for flavor-is an excellent digestion-booster to drink after a meal because it contains acidophilus, a friendly bacteria that aids digestion.

• Drink detox tea: boil two quarts of water in the morning. Add 1/4 t. whole cumin, 1/2 t. whole coriander, 1/2 t. whole fennel and let steep for ten minutes with the lid on. Strain out the spices and pour water into a thermos and sip throughout the day. Start fresh by making a new batch of tea each morning.

• Eat your meals at the same times each day, the main meal being around noon when agni (digestive fire) is strongest.

• Get to bed before 10pm and wake before 6am.

– Ayurvedic Sleep Aids:

If you have trouble falling asleep (vata imbalance)

– Follow yoga nidra before bed (Listen here)

– Go to bed before 10 p.m., earlier in winter.

– Rub warm olive oil on your head and feet right before bed to calm an overactive mind. 

– Avoid caffeine, raw foods, crackers, cold cereal, and other dry, light foods that aggravate vata dosha.

– Avoid TV, intense phone conversations, and exercise after 9 p.m. 

– Choose quiet evening activities to wind down, such as washing dishes, folding clothes, and other simple tasks.

If you wake up between 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. (pitta imbalance)

– Avoid computer use and other work at night. Organize a to-do list to get a head start on the morning and settle your mind before bed.

– Avoid arguments or controversial discussions at night. 

– Take an evening walk to clear your brain and cool your body.

– Avoid spicy or fried foods at night. 

– Eat a juicy pear every day to cool the hot pitta dosha.

– Drink warm milk flavored with cooling organic rose syrup before bed. 

– Rub your head and feet with coconut oil before bed.

 If you feel exhausted after a good night’s sleep (kapha imbalance)

– Eat a light soup with whole-grain crackers or steamed vegetables for your evening meal. 

– Flavor your food with digestion-stimulating spices, such as fresh ginger, cumin, and black pepper. 

– Avoid meat, cheese, potatoes, and heavy desserts at supper, as these tend to clog the tissues, promoting snoring, apnea, stiffness, and morning lethargy. 

– Make an effort to get up before 6 a.m. 

– Exercise daily, if possible during the morning kapha cycle between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m.

• Avoid stress, and use yogic tools to help manage daily stress.

– pranayama (follow pranayama video)

– mudra practice (follow mudra video)

Hope you found this helpful!