Eat Well, and with Mindfulness
Jathara agni (the central digestive fire) resides primarily in the stomach, but it feeds and nourishes agni throughout the body. So when we are truly present with the food we eat—when we give our full attention to the act of being nourished—agni is strengthened everywhere in the body. Eating only when hungry also supports agni.Genuine hunger is characterized by a sense of lightness, a pleasant anticipation of food, and is satisfied by eating. False hunger can be caused by boredom, emotional upset, exhaustion, and other disturbances, but it is usually resolved with a short rest, a walk, or some warm water.
Kindle Agni Before Eating
There are many simple ways to kindle agni immediately before we eat so that the digestive fire can effectively process our foods and burn any previously accumulated toxins. One option is to take a short walk just prior to eating. This practice can also help to clarify whether hunger is genuine or not. Emotional cravings will dissipate after a walk while true hunger will be enhanced. Another simple agni kindling technique is to drink more water at appropriate times. Try drinking a cup or two of warm water upon waking, and a large glass (about two cups) of warm or room temperature water 20–30 minutes before your meals. These tactics not only help to cleanse and hydrate the tissues, they also awaken the digestive capacity and can dramatically improve digestion. If you need to support a particular dosha, Vata Digest, Pitta Digest, and Kapha Digest can help to strengthen the digestive fire by balancing whichever dosha is most affecting your agni.
Support Digestion After Eating
When you have finished eating, it is important to take a full, deep breath before getting up and moving on to your next activity. This helps the body to register satisfaction and retains a helpful level of mindfulness as you transition away from eating. Some people also benefit from the probiotic effect of enjoying a small cup of lassi after a meal. Lassi is made with one part fresh, homemade yogurt blended with four parts water, and you can add a pinch of cumin powder and salt to aid digestion. If meals tend to make you sleepy, a very short walk after a meal can be highly beneficial.Or, if you tend to routinely overextend yourself, try lying on your left side for 5–15 minutes after lunch.This position activates the solar energy channel, which is linked to agni, so it is not only relaxing and rejuvenating, but also very supportive of good digestion.
Follow a Consistent Daily Routine
Ayurveda places a great deal of emphasis on maintaining an appropriate daily routine. This practice is surprisingly supportive of agni. A routine helps to reduce stress and creates a sense of regularity throughout the day, which bolsters natural hunger at regular intervals, and prepares the agni to receive food at consistent times. Embracing a daily routine can also help to maintain a balanced mental state and is considered an important aspect of self-care in Ayurveda.