improve digestion with Ayurveda

To improve digestion with Ayurveda (on many different realms) we must begin to understand this “Science of Life.”

Ayurveda defines health as follows, “One who is established in Self, who has balanced doshas, balanced agni, properly formed dhatus, proper elimination of malas, well-functioning bodily processes, and whose mind, soul and senses are full of bliss, is called a healthy person.”  Each of these qualities, in harmony, contribute to health and longevity (aging gracefully). 

They all have to do with what we take in and put out are sources of balance or imbalance (food, hydration, unresolved anger or trauma, experiences, toxins from the environment, etc).

Dosha

One thing you may be familiar with is the term dosha.  If not, don’t worry, I’ll explain a little here.  Ayurveda describes each individual as being characterized by the interplay of the doshas. Doshas can be defined as a bioenergetic principle that functions throughout life in the human body. These three subtle forces are known primarily by their effects.

  • Vata dosha (dry, light, cold, mobile, rough, etc) is the principle of movement in the body

  • Pitta dosha (hot, sharp, light, liquid, oily, etc) is the energy of transformation, creating heat

  • Kapha dosha (heavy, slow, cool, oily, stable, etc) governs cohesion and lubrication of the physical structure of the body.

Ayurveda teaches that each person is born with a unique balance of all three doshas present in the body. That balance is constantly in a state of flux dependent on the foods we eat, the environment, the weather, state of mind, etc. But when the ratio is close to it’s natural state, the body is healthy. Dis-ease is defined as the condition when the three doshas are out of balance.

find out your dosha

Agni

Agni means “fire,” or the transforming force within the human body-mind. Agni functions at various levels. You can think of it as not only digesting food, but also digesting life experiences and thoughts. Digestive agni is located in the gastro-intestinal tract and transforms food into the micronutrients that can be absorbed on a cellular level. So they can be used to create energy for your yoga practice, or to build bones, or to support hormone development to enrich your sleep, mood, and sexual function.

States of Agni

  • Balanced = healthy appetite, good digestion, proper circulation, healthy complexion and body odor, good energy and strong immunity. Bowel movements are regular, with little gas of bloating. Good mental clarity and sharp senses.

  • High = excessive appetite, strong digestive fire, possible acid indigestion, tendency towards diarrhea, possible subsequent bleeding disorders and skin problems. Associated with elevated pitta dosha.

  • Low = decreased appetite, slow metabolism, tendency towards weight gain. Commonly suffer from congestion, excess mucus production found with colds, flu and sinus infections. Associated with elevated kapha dosha.

  • Variable = variable appetite, gas, distention, constipation. Variable circulation and immunity, leads to diseases or dysfunction of the nervous system. Associated elevated vata dosha.

 

Dhatu

Dhatu means “tissue” and is responsible for holding the bodily structures and nourishing them. They are the fundamental principles (elements) that support bodily structure and function. Ayurveda describes seven tissues in the body: plasma, blood, muscle, fat, bone, nerve tissue, and reproductive fluid. These dhatus are produced by the food that we ingest, and are then created from one layer to the next. The dhatus interact with the doshas to produce a state of health vs disease. So if doshas are imbalanced, the tissues will also become imbalanced.

 

Mala

Mala refers to the waste products of the body, which are also viewed as essential supports during their production. Feces, urine, and sweat are the three main ways in which the body removes waste material. The feces in the colon is related to vata, urine in the kidneys is related to kapha and sweat from the skin is related to pitta dosha. Clearing waste effectively from the body is an essential part of health.

 

Ama

Finally, ama, is “unripe substance.” It is the undigested, unabsorbed, unassimilated food (or experience) which results in fermentation in the stomach (seat of kapha) and intestines (seat of pitta). It is thought to be toxic and disrupt or inhibit the function of our organs, clogs our arteries and respiratory pathways and disturbs our immunity. Ama is thought to be the major dis-ease causing factor in Ayurveda.

 

Possible Scenario:

Ayurveda is an expansive field of study. But what I love about it is that it makes sense. Say for instance you are more balanced in the vata dosha naturally. And it’s a hot, dry day with warm winds–Santa Ana winds. After a moving Vinyasa flow yoga practice (movement), you decide to go to the taqueria and have tortilla chips (dry, light, hard). This may send you into vata imbalance, because you are already destined to be more vata and then you’re in a vata prone environment, practicing vata type yoga, and eating vata type foods. You’ve just added like to like.

You’ll likely end up feeling a little anxious, or light headed, constipated and unable to focus.

 

Possible Pragmatic Solution:

What might be more helpful in that case given the environment—practice more grounding, slow moving yoga, calming breath practices, journaling your Gratitude moments, reduce traveling around, eating more warm, nourishing foods and staying moist–a water spritzer sitting in the warmth but in the shade perhaps. Digestion returns to normal, ease of mind and body, balance restored (for now).

This is a very simple example but gives you an idea of how you can use Ayurveda to keep in balance.

So what does this have to do with our ability to improve digestion with Ayurveda and why is it important in a practical sense?  Hint: prolapse, hormone disruption, pain, sleep disruption…..

Check out Part II for the pragmatic solutions:

I welcome your feedback and if you find this information helpful, please share with your colleagues and your friends. I would love to hear how you may already utilize Ayurveda or after reading this, you may start to incorporate it into your daily living.  Contact Tianna if you are seeking ways to add a more holistic lifestyle approach, called Yoga Therapy to improve your digestion with Ayurveda, so you can live in a space of vitality.  I don’t claim to be an Ayurvedic practitioner, but within Yoga Therapy, these principles are utilized.

References:

  1. Kate Bentley, Ayurvedic Practitioner, Mount Madonna Institute YTT Handbook, 2016.

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Why would you want do this?

Being coached on your daily habits (exercise, meditation/prayer, diet), moods, sleep, energy and digestion can give valuable insight into possibilities for you to feel Vibrant and Healthy again, ie a Balanced Agni.

And having someone on the other end, to be your partner, is Priceless. Connecting the dots is life changing.

Is your health and well being worth $4 a day? For someone who has insight and know-how to see beyond what you might not? For someone to begin transformative life awareness like you have never done before? For someone to begin to give you your power back? All for less than a cup of coffee!