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Ayurveda: What’s Your Digestive Type? Get Your Agni Balanced.

Ayurveda: What’s Your Digestive Type? Get Your Agni Balanced.

The Power of Digestion in Ayurveda

Ayurveda’s aim is to have a long, happy and healthy life. The key to it is our metabolism, as all diseases have its origin in an imbalanced metabolism. The metabolism is therefore the central point we need to take care of if we want to restore health. The term metabolism refers commonly to the breakdown of food and its transformation into energy. As a result, we metabolise everything that we drink and eat, and the substances that we do not need anymore are eliminated. This process is the basis for our body to maintain itself.

According to Ayurveda we need a harmonious and functioning digestion to stay healthy and to prevent illnesses and imbalances. It is about strengthening our digestive fire, Agni, or also ensuring that it does not become too strong. In other words, we want to bring our Agni into optimal balance.

The four Types of Agni

In Ayurveda, we assume that everyone was born with an individual constitution. This constitution is unchangeable, but it may very well be in balance or not due to our habits and lifestyle. This type of constitution is called Prakriti and defines a person’s unique constitution in balance. However, if we get into an imbalance, we call it Vikruti. Therefore, we want to find out what we currently have too much or too little of, in other words, if our digestive fire is too weak or too strong.

Agni is located in the solar plexus area, the 3rd chakra, in the small intestine area. We want to eat things that burn clean and smooth. Then we experience a glow. If that is not the case, we can experience bloating, headaches, skin impurities, gas and other symptoms of digestive issues.

Without Agni it would be impossible to digest food and emotions. Consequently toxins can accumulate in the body and mind if our digestive fire does not burn optimally.

 

Agni is the main source of life and if you worship Agni, you will be blessed with perfect health. – Dr. Vasant Lad on Ayurveda

 

Ayurveda talks about four different states of Agni: regular or optimal, irregular, too intense, and too slow and weak.

1. Sama Agni: optimal / balanced digestion

Sama Agni means that the Agni is burning hot and clean. If we have a normal and optimal digestion, we have a complete bowel movement once or twice a day. The bowel movement is an important factor in assessing our digestive fire. When you have a complete emptying you know it. The stools have the consistency of a ripe banana, shaped but smooth and soft. Ideally, you should empty yourself within an hour of getting up, without using coffee or other home remedies.

Other characteristics of an optimal digestion are that you feel energised throughout the day. This Agni type has no afternoon low and no digestive discomfort. The immune system is stable and the mind is clear and alert. They are fueled from the inside out.

2. Vishama Agni: variable and sensitive digestion

This type is prone to digestive irregularities due to an erratic fire. The digestion is not steady, but fluctuating. Sometimes it is too fast and frequent, maybe even liquid. Sometimes it is too slow, sometimes too hard and often too seldom. The dosha associated with this type is Vata. When Vata gets stirred up in their mental body, it starts to affect their digestion. The energy from the digestion centre moves up in the brain and is missing in the digestion organs. As a result, Agni is too cold and the food cannot get properly digested. This digestive type often suffers from irregular hunger, weak immune system, and frequent digestive disorders such as: bloating, constipation, indigestion, digestive pain and cramps.

Also travelling and erratic eating patterns affect this Agni type. They often suffer from food allergies and intolerances. Furthermore they feel easily nervous, insecure, unworthy, worried and unprepared.

The bowel movement of Vishama Agni is marked by:

  • often dry and hard, small pieces, rabbit pellets
  • suffering easily from gas
  • bloated belly
  • dark colour and a strong smell
  • sometimes less than once per day or incomplete defecation
  • changes between diarrhoea and constipation

You don’t know your Dosha? Then take the Dosha quiz and learn more about your unique body constitution.

3. Tikshna Agni: too hot and too quick digestion

When we have too much heat in the system, our digestion runs fast or even too fast. It’s like you put oil on a fire. This digestive type often struggles with thin and loose stools due to a digestive fire that is too hot. There is too much bail in the system. The digestion process is too quick and the nutritions cannot be properly absorbed and malnutrition can occur. They sometimes have 3-5 bowel movements per day. This leads to constant hunger and they can eat huge quantities.

In addition to that there might occur: diarrhoea, heartburn, hyperacidity, gastritis and stomach pain. These people get easily hangry. When they are hungry, they need to eat something very quickly, otherwise they can get easily grumpy. We often find here very intense people who tend to impatience, irritability, frustration and over-working.

The bowel movement of Tikshna Agni is marked by:

  • often soft, unformed and diarrhoea-like
  • more than twice a day
  • a lighter colour, sometimes even yellowish
  • a strong smell

Sign up for my free “7-Days to Boost your Metabolism” course and learn the basic principles of Ayurveda for a properly functioning metabolism. Find better sleep, boost your immune system and have a strong digestion.

 

4. Manda Agni: slow and sluggish digestion

The sluggish digestion of Kapha constitutions is characterised by too little digestive fire. The stomach is too wet and they extract too little from the food. Therefore, they often need less food than the other two doshas, ​​which is very difficult for them because of their love for food. The weak digestive fire cannot digest large amounts of food. They are not very hungry, but often have a big appetite. Due to the sluggishness of their digestion, they tend to feel full and heavy after eating.

The lungs are right next to the stomach. As a result, there can be a lot of congestion, trouble breathing, mucus in the sinuses and even vomiting of salvia. This type easily get overweight, obese, congested and is prone to seasonal allergies. Feelings of sluggishness, depression, sadness, overthinking, lethargy, drowsiness and brain fog can be present.

The bowel movement of Manda Agni is marked by:

  • often slowly and less than once a day
  • possibly with mucus
  • sticks to the toilet bowl, the need of a lot of toilet paper
  • is light brown and clay-like

What you can do

An important step to a healthier body is to become aware of our bowel movements. All of this may sound strange at first, as we are not used to talk about bowel movements in our society. However, it is an important tool to find health in Ayurveda. It gives us a lot of information about what is currently not working properly. This helps us to see what we need to do in order to regain health.

If you want a deep dive into Ayurveda to embody daily habits that promote mental clarity, overall ease and let you thrive in your body for a lifetime, discover my online health and lifestyle program “Thrive & Shine”.

Podcast: An Ayurvedic and Yogic Approach to a Healthy Menstrual Cycle

Podcast: An Ayurvedic and Yogic Approach to a Healthy Menstrual Cycle

Ancient menstrual wisdom from Ayurveda and Yoga

Ayurveda and yoga are sister sciences and provide us with tools that can help build resilience to the hormonal imbalances we are so prone to.

The woman’s menstrual cycle plays a major role in Ayurveda. If you go to an Ayurveda doctor or consultant, you will be asked questions about digestion and as a woman as well some questions about your menstruation cycle: Is the cycle regular? What colour is the blood? Are there any complaints before, after or during the menstruation? A woman’s cycle has a huge impact on life and wellbeing. The monthly bleeding is a cleansing phase for the body.

A lot of functions in our body are controlled by hormones, which is why it makes sense, as a woman, to be more concerned with our own cycle. In Ayurveda, the different phases of the cycle are determined by different doshas. ​​As a result, they have an effect on the physical and emotional level. Hormonal balance is crucial for being fertile and having a good pregnancy.

What you’ll get out of tuning in:

  • Understand your Ayurvedic menstrual cycle (three phases of Vata, Kapha & Pitta)
  • One tip for each phase of your cycle
  • How can we connect to our womb energetically, mentally or physically
  • Sound to activate second chakra and why the second chakra is related to fertility & hormones
  • Tips for better digestion & sleep
  • How can Embody to Thrive help a woman become more fertile?
  • One book recommendation that helps understand our female bodies better

Favorite Quotes:

Vata is the force that regulates all downward movements in the body, pushing the menstrual blood down and out of the body.”

“The womb is a sacred space where sensuality, intuition and creativity of the universe originate.”

“By learning how to direct energy to our womb and fertility centres, we can restore the juiciness and vitality that was otherwise lost.”

Tune in


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Apple Podcast

Are you interested what Chinese medicine has to offer for a healthy menstrual cycle and to boost fertility? Then tune into my other podcast episode here.

Do you want a better and more aligned life to achieve deeply desired results? A life with more energy, a peaceful mind, and habits that go toward lifelong health and wellness?

Discover my online health and lifestyle course Thrive & Shine. 

Ayurveda & Chinese Medicine: Benefits of Drinking Hot Water

Ayurveda & Chinese Medicine: Benefits of Drinking Hot Water

Why is drinking hot or warm water recommended?

Nothing is as simple and effective as drinking hot water. Some even speak of a hot water cure. Tap water is simply boiled and Ayurvedic’s and Chinese medicine’s remedy no.1 is ready.

Drinking hot water helps to easily flush out any toxins in the body. It can help to balance all three doshas. And what I really like: hot water removes toxic metabolic waste byproducts from your body and mind! It couldn’t be easier to avoid illness. Because in Eastern medicine it is said over and over again: If your digestion runs smoothly and your metabolism functions optimally, you stay healthy!

Hot water penetrates all the fine channels of the body, especially in the digestive tract.

Hot water dissolves ama and dampness from the cells

Hot water washes everything away where metabolic waste products are stored. These waste products are called ama in Ayurveda and dampness in Chinese medicine. They are the toxins in the body and form the basis of every disease. They are a result of a weak digestive fire “Agni”. Warm water can activate Agni and stimulate bowel movement, and helps digest food more easily.

This is why drinking hot water is so important for staying healthy. Because the undigested remains in your body causes discomfort, minor ailments or even severe diseases. However, if you drink hot water on a daily basis, you support your body and mind in detoxing everything that it doesn’t need anymore.

But not only ama is flushed out, also the water-soluble toxins that you ingest through food and the environment are removed by drinking hot water.

Hot water – your source of happiness

Ayurveda and Chinese medicine recommend drinking hot water throughout the day. It’s not the amount that matters, but the regularity. A great idea is e.g. to put hot water in a warming jug in the morning. All my friends only ever know me with a pot of hot water. I won’t leave the house without it.

Water is also digested

Did you know that water also has to be digested? It doesn’t just run right through you, no, it really gets digested. By the way, cold water takes about 6 hours to digest. Whereas hot water only takes 1.5 hours. As a result your digestion needs less energy for digesting hot water and you have more energy for doing other things.

Since water is also digested, you shouldn’t drink too much after 7pm. The result of drinking too much too late can be restless nights, waking up because of the need to go to the toilet and the formation of bags under the eyes (this area reflects your kidneys).

Natural Detoxifier And Healing Agent

Drinking hot water on a daily basis has many health benefits. Among them are:

  • Improves blood circulation
  • Removes fat deposits in the body
  • Flushes out toxins and ama
  • Strengthens Agni, the digestive fire
  • Helps relieve constipation
  • Improves your energy
  • Relieves nasal congestion
  • Helps relieve symptoms of achalasia (the esophagus has trouble moving food down into the stomach)
  • Improves skin
  • Helps to relax the body’s muscles
  • Improves central nervous system function
  • Avoids eating and snacking due to false hunger
  • Sharpens the sense of taste

If you want to loose weight more easily, drinking hot water can support you along the way. It reduces the need for snacks, improves fat burning and supports detoxification!

How much hot water and how hot is good?

Incidentally, the amount of water in Ayurveda depends on your constitution. Pitta types, the fiery among us, need lots of water to soothe their inner fire. By the way, the hot water should be lukewarm for Pitta types. However, Kapha types need much less hot water, because Kapha is already consisting half of water. And the dry Vata type can handle a medium amount of hot water, about 1.5 litres. Living Ayurveda means: listen to your inner intelligence! It will tell you how much and how hot the water should be.

Hot water for your Dosha type

Depending on your constitution, you can “season” the water.

Those who tend towards Pitta constitution and often have cravings, inflammations, skin outbreaks and problems with heartburn and belching, should not drink their water too hot. The heat that is associated with Pitta is otherwise increased. For Pitta constitutions, lukewarm water is more suitable, in which a few fennel seeds, rose buds, mint leaves or a clove can be added.

Vata constitutions on the other hand, have a tendency to changing appetite and thirst and deal with irregular digestion, can drink their water hot. Because they often tend to freeze easily and have problems with dryness. They can add something oily like ghee to their water and simmer it with liquorice or marshmallow roots.

Kapha types should drink the water warm to hot in sips throughout the day. They can add some basil leaves, slices of fresh ginger, 1/4 teaspoon of cumin and fennel seeds. This can help boost their sometimes slow and sluggish digestion.

Thrive & Shine

Do you want a better and more aligned life to achieve deeply desired results? A life with more energy, a peaceful mind, and habits that go towards lifelong health and wellness?

Discover my online health and lifestyle program Thrive & Shine

Improve your sleep with Ayurveda

Improve your sleep with Ayurveda

Why sleep is so important

Sleep plays a very important role in our health along with eating healthy and exercising regularly. It influences very much how emotionally stable, mentally clear and physically fit we are. A good night’s sleep gives our body the possibility to begin its night-shift work. During sleep, our body can heal damaged cells and strengthen our immune system. We also recharge our heart, cardiovascular and nervous system for the next day. Deep and sufficient sleep is one of the keys to long-term health and the basis for a functioning immune system. 

Improve your sleep with Ayurveda

Ayurveda or Ayurvedic medicine contains a lot of wisdom for a life in balance, including how to improve your sleep.

Ayurveda is about harmony and balance, especially the balance between the three doshas Vata, Pitta and Kapha. They also play an important role in our sleep. The time we go to bed, what we do before and after bedtime, and of course what and when we eat. This all influences our bioenergies and thus contributes to a night of healthy sleep. 

The role of the doshas in your sleep rhythm

From an Ayurvedic point of view, sleep is the most important regeneration phase of the day. Between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. our Pitta energy wants to clean the body, picking up the dirt from the furthest corners. Then between 2 and 6 a.m. our Vata energy is very active, transporting the dirt and toxins to the excreting organs.


Digestion

The most important prerequisite for this cleansing process is that the digestion of the last meal is finished before 10 p.m. That’s why it is important to have an early light dinner, at least three hours before you go to bed. If this is not the case, the body sets the priorities differently and focuses on digestion. Hence, prompting the whole system to power up instead of shutting down for the sleep and cleansing process. Consequently, fatigue is delayed and it’s difficult to fall asleep. We also are more likely to wake up at night and therefore, when it is time to get up in the morning… we’re exhausted. 

Lifestyle

Apart from the last meal, our general lifestyle also has an impact on our sleep. Our sleep problems may arise from the fact that there is too much movement, too much Vata, in our internal system. Consequently the body does not find its way deep enough into the relaxation mode. An overactive sympathetic nervous system means too much movement or Vata that is caused by stress, lack of time and an unsteady lifestyle. If we snack between meals, quickly change our routine, don’t get enough sleep, travel a lot and eat foods that elevate Vata, we probably won’t fall asleep and, above all, won’t sleep through the night.

How the Doshas differ

If we compare the different doshas, we note that a Vata imbalance tends towards irregular and light sleep. Vata type will usually wake up between 2 – 6 a.m., unable to return to sleep. They also can have problems to fall asleep. Whereas Pittas sleep can be disturbed by vivid and active dreams or nightmares. Pittas usually experience difficulties falling asleep as their mind is too busy and they can’t stop thinking about their plans, projects and upcoming activites. However, Kapha types are generally good sleepers but when out of balance, they sleep too long which makes them sluggish and heavy. Also after a long and sound sleep they do not wake up feeling well rested.

Thrive & Shine

Do you want a better and more aligned life to achieve deeply desired results? A life with more energy, a peaceful mind, and habits that go towards lifelong health and wellness?

Discover my online health and lifestyle program Thrive & Shine.

How can the Ayurvedic way of life be beneficial for our sleep?

The most important keys points are routine, diet and stress reduction. The optimal routine from an Ayurvedic point of view is three meals at similar times of the day, with the main meal at lunch and a light, early dinner. Of course, it is incredibly valuable to adjust the diet so that we can find a balance based on our constitution. It is also recommended that you go to bed and get up at similar times each day.

But we should also adjust our daily work and stress levels. Stress, regardless of what caused it, lets our nervous system run in a mode that is intended to protect us in dangerous situations. But if we often feel tense, agitated and rushed, then we are preventing the part of our nervous system that is responsible for regeneration, metabolism and sleep, from doing its job.

As a result, we may have permanently elevated cortisol levels. The stress hormone can lead to anxiety, hormonal imbalances, increased appetite, obesity and other issues. That is why in Ayurveda, we not only focus on nutrition and lifestyle but also meditation, yoga and other methods of stress reduction. Therefore the Ayurveda approach is holistic and matched with one’s unique constitution.

ayurvedic food for sleep

How diet affects your sleep

The most important tip is to move the main meal to noon and then eat lightly and early in the evening. From an Ayurvedic point of view, early and light means before 7 pm with little fat and protein and not too complex in composition. You should also eat raw vegetables at lunchtime as they are heavy to digest. This dietary advice is somewhat contrary to some modern-day opinions, but it works. Soups, stews or vegetables, perhaps with a little grain, are ideal for the evening. One-pot meals are especially easy to digest for our metabolism.

To have an early and light evening meal, of course, we need to have a good lunch. Otherwise, we’ll be too hungry. Since the body has the strongest digestive fire around lunchtime – also from a conventional medical point of view – we digest quickly at this time of the day. From an Ayurvedic point of view, our lunch should not consist of a small salad or a sandwich on hand, but of a healthy and rich meal in which we satisfy our fat and protein needs. Interestingly, after such a meal, we are hardly hungry in the evening and can easily get through the night with a small supper until breakfast in the morning. And the body thanks us with a night of deep and restful sleep.

What helps if we have difficulty falling asleep?

The easiest way for the body to fall asleep is when it is relaxed and not struggling with a heavy meal. Ayurveda recommends establishing an evening routine that automates this process. Some examples of activities that would prevent us from falling asleep are: screen time, exciting books, an extremely high pace during the day, and in the worst case, a high pace until late in the evening. Thoughts circle around our heads and therefore our energy, too. After an early light dinner, it’s the ideal time to enjoy moments with loved ones, to go for a walk or to take a bath. Any other non-digital hobby like writing a diary, drawing, performing handicraft works, is great too.

An important factor is the time we go to bed. Kapha energy is dominant until 10 pm. The energy of Kapha helps us to wind down and to notice the first signs of end-of-the-day fatigue. Its energy is heavy, steady and calm and perfect for preparing ourselves for better quality rest. From 10 pm the Pitta energy takes over the lead. This energy rises and makes us active and mentally busy. Ayurveda, therefore, recommends going to sleep during the Kapha time, this means before 10 pm. It makes a big difference in our quality and quantity of sleep.

In addition, the following tools are extremely valuable to help us to come to rest: Gentle yoga exercises that ground and bring our energy down such as Yin Yoga, slow pranayamas such as alternate nostril breathing or meditation. Otherwise, a foot massage with warm sesame oil and an essential oil like Lavender which will help to descend the energy in our body. And finally, golden milk or turmeric milk (also made with plant milk) can also make it easier for us to fall asleep.

Are there specific sleeping tips for the individual doshas?

In addition to the tips for Vata and Pitta that are already mentioned, the duration of sleep is also crucial. Vata types need the most sleep of all. They are not doing well without the mandatory eight hours. With a lot of stress, they may even need more. Eight hours are perfect for Pitta types, even if they usually don’t like it because they have so much to do.

Less sleep is recommended for Kapha types only. Kapha usually has no problems falling asleep and sleeps well through the night. However, they find it difficult to get up. So they need to get up before 6 am. As mentioned, the Vata movement principle is dominant between 2 and 6 a.m. This movement gets us up more easily. But from 6 a.m. Kapha takes over again. And this energy makes it very difficult for us to get out of bed. With Kapha, there is also the fact that a maximum of 7 to 7.5 hours of sleep is better and more relaxing than a long sleep. Too much sleep will make them too heavy and sluggish.

Do you want to learn more about your unique constitution, your Dosha? Take the Dosha quiz here.

BONUS: Yoga and meditation videos for better sleep

Yoga Nidra Tibetan Singing Bowls Sound Bath for Anxiety Relief & Relaxation

Yoga For Bedtime – YUMMY sleepy time yoga with Adriene

A guided meditation for sleep from Deepak Chopra

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