This is about understanding our bodies digestion through the lens of Ayurveda. It s such a fundamental process which when out of sync has the potential to cause many levels of dis-ease through our lives and on the opposite, when its working properly it has the potential to create a more easeful experience. From bloating, post eating abdominal pain, lethargy, constipation, mood swings, and all the other complications associated with slow bowels, digestion and ability to break down food is a massively impactful subject to master.
It was when I learned about the relation our digestion has to the rhythms of the rising and setting sun each day that the basics of this sister science to yoga started making sense. This is the first of a series of explanations and aha moments I’ve had since adopting ten fundamental habits from Ayurveda and began noticing the changes.
Agni to a degree is understood as the digestive fire in our belly, think of the burning hunger you feel when you haven’t had any food in some time that is the Agni. However Agni is not limited to that of digesting the physical food we eat but it also includes the assimilation of our daily experiences, emotions and cellular communication among others. So with this understanding there are very simple things to do which help build the strength of the digestive fire as are many which put out the fire keeping our digestion down and slow moving.
First is timing and frequency of stuffing our face and with the abundance of food in our culture we can see the rise of disease from not only poor food choices but also never giving our bodies a break. So back to the sun rising and setting and begin to get a sense of the midday sun shining its strong warmth upon you. This midday sunshine when its at its highest is also the time of day when our digestive fire peaks, and just as the sun does our Agni looses intensity as the day progresses. The basic idea behind this relationship is that of consuming the hardest to digest foods during the midday meal or lunch and having something light for diner so our body can enter deeper states of sleep.
Just as the ancient practices conclude, modern studies have shown humans having spikes in bile production which we use for breaking down and assimilating food and just as the traditions follow, the bile peaks around 1pm and then another less intense spike in the evening before levels fall during the night. This makes sense when we align the understanding of circadian rhythms to humans beings and reflect how in sync we are to the this natural cycle.
The most personally impactful discipline to this practice of eating a lighter diner and a more traditional supper is meal spacing and not to constantly snack between meal time. It sounds a bit strict but think of smothering a fire constantly throughout the day as you wonder why it is always struggling to catch back up. The same thing goes for our Agni in the belly, if we are snacking between meals we never give the digestive juices time to build up strength.
So how I would summarize this practice of meal spacing is to relate to the modern approach of intermittent fasting or as some of the science / bio-nerds ( myself included) would call it, cyclical ketosis. Its when our energy sources are cycling between fat and glucose where on one level we enter a much different perspective on life. This can happen dramatically when we are in the fat burning mode as we burn up the toxins we have accumulated through our daily life and store in the adipose tissue. Think of burning through this tissue as breaking old patterns, beliefs and ways of approaching our daily existence.
Remember to enjoy the new ideas you adopt in your life and that changing old patterns are not always easy but when we approach the situation as a child would with curiosity and take the small steps on a new path it lessens the pressure and deepens the reward.