Agni and Ama
Let’s talk about the importance of agni and ama. The body’s internal digestive fire is called our agni. When agni funtions properly, whatever we have eaten gets digested and absorbed by the body. Then the body eliminates waste. Pretty simple. However, when doshas are imbalanced due to lifestyle, diet, negative emotions, etc., agni becomes weakened or disturbed and therefore cannot digest food properly. In Ayurveda, “You are what you digest.” If you can’t digest it, you’ll get imbalanced!
This undigested food (and emotions) turns into ama, which is a toxic, sticky, cloudy, smelly substance that can spread from the gastrointestinal tract to other parts of the body. From there it can lodge itself into crevices (sometimes large crevices) causing clogs in channels, blood vessels and cell membranes. Yeah, eu. It’s gross.
It sounds complicated and difficult to get ama, but it’s kind of easy if you’re not paying attention. How many times have you eaten on the go, while working, during an intense conversation or while nervous? How many times have you gone back for seconds even though you were full? Even ending a nice warm meal with a cold beverage can cause ama. Let’s start learning to use the great elements and knowledge of our own dosha(s) to our healthy advantage. Keep these in your buddhi (wisdom)! As we learn and practice, we will find ourselves evolving into new and healthier habits. If our mind is not in our eating, we won’t digest much of anything.
For tips on avoiding ama, see Nutritional Guidelines.
Some signs of ama.
• Check your tongue – if it’s got a white coating, that’s ama. If it’s pink, you’re doing great.
• If your energy level is low, sluggish, sleepy, or weak
• If you feel “cloudy” in the mind
• If you feel blockage in the body (constipation, congestion, breathing)
• Not hungry or no taste for food
What do I do if I have ama?
• Fasting – skip a meal or eat fruit until you are hungry and your tongue is pink
• Drink warm water
• Have ginger tea (ginger is a digestive spice)
• Eat light, warm, liquid foods like soups
• Use digesting spices like garlic, cumin seeds, ginger, black pepper
• Say a mini prayer of thanks before your meal, so your intention is on your food
• The best way to rid chronic ama is to do an extensive cleanse called panchakarma, which means “five actions.” It’s a cleansing and rejeuvenating process which gathers all vitiated doshas (and ama) and purges them from the body. It’s a total renewal of the system!