How to Build Your Digestive Fire using Ayurvedic Techniques

Your digestive fire is one of the most important functions of your body. Modern science has only just begun to understand the importance of our gut flora and proper digestion. Our stomach has even earned the title of the “second brain.” While more studies support the relationship between our emotions and the health of our digestion. Ayurveda suggests that most diseases originate in the stomach and later migrate to manifest in weakened tissues. As we move into the winter months, your internal fire naturally increases, making this an ideal time to focus on building your digestive fire. Step into your power by harnessing your internal fire.

You can learn how building your digestive fire can ignite and fuel your most purposeful and intentional life.

How does Ayurveda define our body’s digestive fire?

Fire is a vital element not only for our health but also for living with purpose. The role of fire is to ignite, break down, digest, assimilate, and transform everything in existence. It is responsible for all transformation within body, spirit, and mind.

This article will cover building the fire within the body, later articles will discuss the mind, the soul, and combining the three to live in your highest potential.

Agni is the fire element that governs all transformation in our body. To understand how to cultivate a strong internal fire, we must know what its role in the body is first.

Agni is responsible for the following.

  • Skin health
  • Digestion
  • Temperature
  • Vision
  • Blood health
  • Confidence
  • Courage
  • Joy
  • Laughter
  • Cheerfulness
  • Mental clarity
  • Intellect
An impaired agni can show up in any one of these areas of our body.

Ayurveda advises us that the health of our agni is directly related to the following.

  • Overall strength and vitality
  • Our disease resistance
  • Longevity
  • Our very existence of life

Without a balanced agni, how could we possess the vital energy needed to lead a life of purpose?

We can look to the qualities of agni to help us make more intentional choices that will maintain balance. The qualities of fire are light, hot, dry, penetrating/ sharp. This means that anything we consume of these qualities will increase the fire within our body. The opposite qualities will decrease the fire in our body and will be harder to digest and transform. A healthy digestive system can break down nutrition without breaking down our tissues nor allowing toxins to form or accumulate.

Increasing Qualities of Agni

  • Light
  • Hot
  • Dry
  • Penetrating/Sharp

Decreasing Qualities of Agni

  • Heavy
  • Cold
  • Wet
  • Bland/Dull

Simple Ways you can Build your Digestive Fire

Keeping a regular and strong digestive fire is the key in maintaining optimal health.

How do I know if my digestive fire is functioning well?

Having an appetite is a strong indicator about the health of your digestive fire. Ideally, we would be hungry for each meal, our body usually digests food within two hours. After eating, notice if  you experience extreme fatigue, gas, bloating, or other symptoms. These are signs that your digestion may be suffering, and the symptoms you experience give a clue as to what is occurring in your body.
If you lack an appetite for any of your three meals, have gas, bloating, or stomach pains, it is possible your digestion is irregular. If it takes a long time to digest your food, you feel very heavy, tired, sluggish, excess mucus; it is possible you have a slower or weakened digestion.
When digestive fire is decreased or irregular, it becomes common that someone may skip breakfast or lunch. If you find yourself saying “I am just not hungry till later in the day” or “I never eat breakfast,” you may benefit from introducing small meals till you build your appetite back up. In this case, you can eat about a half a cup of food at the times you select for your meals. Try this method and you may notice it can take as little as one week for your body to naturally crave food at the times you have set aside for your meals.
Training your body to eat at the same time each day is the first step to regulating your digestive system to break down your food appropriately. We can see here how our digestive system directly affects our energy.
lemon water to build digestion

How do I regulate and build my digestive fire?

Eat all three meals at the same time each day.

This is by far the most important way to maintain a regulated agni and build your digestive fire. It is recommended that you set aside an hour for each meal and aim to eat your meal within that time frame. For example, you may choose to eat breakfast between 8:00 – 9:00 am, lunch between 11:30-12:30, and dinner between 6:00 – 7:00 pm every day.

What if I intermittently fast or skip meals?

Intermittent fasting is generally not recommended in Ayurveda and can disrupt the digestive system while increasing air within the body. This can lead to light-headedness, bloating, acid reflux, and more. It is common to practice intermittent fasting between 7:00 pm-10:00 am. According to Ayurveda, any type of fasting is best done under supervision and is typically only suggested for specific ailments and not as a daily practice.

What can I do to improve my digestive fire?

  • You can drink a warm 8 ounce glass of water upon waking up with a squeeze of lemon to activate your digestive system for the day ahead.
  • You can also put 1/3 tsp of each seed (cumin, coriander, and fennel) in 8 ounce hot water and drink this tea 30 minutes before each meal to stimulate digestion.
  • Eat your food well seasoned with spices like pepper, ginger, cardamom, coriander, fennel, turmeric, nutmeg, clove, celery seed, cumin. These herbs have specific properties that not only increase digestive fire, but also mineral absorption. Using spices also helps stimulate your appetite.

What foods should I be eating to build my digestive fire?

  • It is best to stick with easy-to-digest foods that are warm, moist, well-seasoned, freshly prepared, and produce that is in season.
  • Raw vegetables are difficult for your body to digest and can actually decrease your digestive fire if eating in excess. According to the Ayurvedic teachings around digestion,  it is often best to eat vegetables that are lightly steamed or sauteed.

What should I avoid eating?

Different foods have different rates of breakdown, and therefore it is not recommended to eat fruits with any other food items. This is also why melons should be eaten solo and not accompanied by even other fruits. Some incompatible foods are dairy with meat, fruits, or sour foods. In fact, meat is best eaten with only steamed or sauteed vegetables, avoid eating with rice, other proteins, and starches as they are difficult to digest.

How should I be eating my food?

  • Proper digestion relies on having the space within your stomach to go through the transformation process.
  • Eat until you are half full, one quarter filled with room temperature water, and one quarter empty.
  • Avoid eating and drinking cold items at meals, as this will reduce the agnis ability to digest your meal.
  • About one of your hands made into a fist represents ½ of your stomach size and the approximate amount that will sustain our body.
  • Eat your meals in a silent space with no distractions.
  • Be sure that you are sitting for the duration of your meal.
  • Make your meal time a ritual that gives the highest respect to the foods you are nourishing with and your intention behind eating those foods.
  • After meals, avoid immediate activity and create a least 20 minutes of intentional rest so that your body can focus all its energy on digesting the meal you just consumed.

There are endless ways to cultivate, maintain, and embody an optimal internal fire.

This is a great foundation for you to commit to building your digestive fire in your body.
When your digestive system is thriving, you will have the power and drive you need to show up as your highest self.

Leading a successful life starts with a strong physical fire.

It is evident when you meet someone with highly focused internal fire, they glow, they inspire, they radiate, their vitality is undeniable.
Embrace your inner fire one meal at a time.

Are you ready to build your internal fire through empowered living?

Join us in Baja California Sur, Mexico to explore the power of harnessing your internal fire January 20-24, 2023. “The Fire Within” Embodied Ayurveda is an immersive experience that will guide you through what it means to live intentionally. Taking place the the gorgeous eco-luxury resort The White Lodge located in a sacred desert overlooking the Sea of Cortez.
This retreat is designed to stoke the internal fire in each of us so that we can lead a successful life. We start with learning about and cultivating a strong and balanced internal fire. We use this physical fire to refine and direct our mental fire. Creating or refining the goals and dreams that we desire to embody within our life.
We will guide our mental fire to achieve intentional results. Through a strong mental and physical fire, we elevate and connect to the potential of our spiritual fire. We will bridge all mental and physical actions to the spiritual fire that drives all of life. Each and every action, thought, and desire becomes guided by our spiritual fire. This allows us to live through our passions, our conviction, our unique purpose in each and every moment.
Dedicate each day to deepening your connection to your body, mind, soul, and spirit through intentional and purposeful living. You will receive an ayurvedic consultation before the retreat begins so that the entire experience will be personalized to your specific needs. You will leave this retreat with the knowledge to build a strong internal fire that will fuel your most purposeful transformation.

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