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Ayurveda and Agni_Final

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>> Hi there. Are you familiar with Ayurveda? Ayurveda is the traditional Hindu system of medicine. It has been practiced in India for thousands of years. Ayurveda is more than medicine. It's a philosophy, a way of living, and a desire to understand creation. Ayur means science and Veda means life, the science of life. While research is only recently discovering evidence for mind-body connection, Ayurveda has held this wisdom to be true for centuries. In Ayurveda, the mind and body aren't separate, they're one. Emotions, thoughts, and spirituality, all influence the physical body. And the cycles of the body are meant to thrive in accordance with the cycles of nature. By now, you know that the mind and the gut are intimately connected. A person's environment and stress levels are largely influential on their gut health. And the health of the gut affects the health of the brain. With this in mind, let's take a look at how gut health is viewed from an Ayurvedic perspective. To no surprise, the foundation of health in Ayurveda is based on the concept of Agni or digestive fire. The health of the body starts with Agni. Just like we've been saying all along, optimal health starts in the gut. Before we explore what this means, let me ask you something. Have you ever worked with a client who had what looks like a near perfect diet but they still weren't feeling well? They didn't have any glaring health issues but they just constantly felt off. Have you ever seen this before? Or perhaps even experienced it yourself? I once had a client who we'll call Rose. Rose was meticulous with her diet. She regularly ate lots of cooked greens, some brown rice, and small amounts of organic protein. She avoided gluten, dairy, and sugar. In fact, she referred to them as the three evils. But Rose came to me because despite her stellar diet, she was putting on weight and often felt fatigued. She also experienced digestive issues. She was so frustrated. I spent some time getting to know her, and when she shared more about her past, I learned that behind the smiles she was troubled by a challenging relationship she has always had with her mother. She described her as someone who "harps" on her every move. Rose's mother largely influenced the job she took, the man she married, and now even her kids. Instead of focusing on Rose's diet, we focused on how she could build some healthy boundaries with her mother. Once she started upholding these boundaries and the relationship shifted, she stopped gaining weight and her vitality returned. In the Health Coach Training Program, we talk at length about the power of primary food. You've learned and probably experienced by now that focusing on a person's primary food often helps to improve issues with secondary food. This concept holds true in Ayurveda as well. Recall that in the Ayurvedic philosophy, the mind and body are one. So from this perspective, Rose's struggle with her mother manifested in the body as the result of pent up feeling she couldn't express. Rose put on a happy front but was frustrated and irritable inside resulting in her feelings showing up in her digestion. Can you relate? Take a moment now to think of a time when the emotions you felt manifested in your physical body. Grab a piece of paper and a pen and spend a few minutes recalling and writing about this experience. What were you going through in your life at the time? How did you feel physically and mentally? Pause the video now to journal your thoughts. How did that go? It's fascinating when we take the time to stop and look at how everything inside of us is all connected. Ayurvedic philosophy views digestion as something far more powerful than simply a mechanism for absorbing nutrients. It's what connects us to the world. Ayurveda views digestion as the way we're able to take in information from the world, assimilate it, and release what we don't need. Think of how a car is powered, it needs to take in fuel, burn what it needs, and release the byproducts. Food is our fuel and the gut is the engine. Our engines need to be in good shape or else we end up with toxic byproducts and poor waste removal. An Ayurvedic perspective can help us pause to examine the information we take in from the world, whether it's in the form of food, thought, or emotion. Food has an intelligence that spreads through to every cell. How do we transform this information as we build new cells? In Ayurveda, when Agni is balanced, one will experience vitality, energy, regular elimination, and strength. Have you ever felt sleepy after eating? This is the sign of low Agni. Agni becomes imbalanced because of too much Ama. Ama is the Ayurvedic concept of toxins. These toxins can be physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual. Ama is considered by Ayurveda to be the root of all disease. Ama is said to cause problems with digestion and emotion. Ama can cause all types of digestive upset from foul-smelling stool to spotty or extreme appetite to fluctuations in stomach acid. So the overall goal in achieving optimal gut health from an Ayurvedic perspective is how to support Agni and reduce or eliminate Ama. The way to do this is to pacify any imbalances in your Doshas. I'll explain what this means. Doshas represent the elements or life forces. Each Dosha is a combination of elements. The five elements in Ayurveda are air, fire, water, earth, and ether. All five elements are necessary for life, and each of these elements have a role to play in digestion. Air and ether are needed to move food through GI tract and to release stool. Water also helps with flow. Fire digests the food. Earth provides the structure and muscle to support these actions. Even though digestive fire is key, all elements play their part. Ayurveda combines these elements or life forces into three Doshas, Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Vata represents air and ether. Pitta represents fire and water. And Kapha represents water and earth. Doshas help Ayurvedic practitioners to determine the root of many health problems. Everyone has all three Doshas, but we all have predominant Doshas that make-up our constitution or Prakriti, which is our natural state. Some people have one predominant Dosha, while others have two. Some people are even tri-Doshic which means that they have a strong constitution in all three Doshas. Most people have two Doshas as their primary constitution. And they often go out of balance. In terms of health, people tend to go out of balance in their primary Dosha. Our Doshas rule our preferences, we often crave the foods aligned with our predominant Dosha. But this can also be what throws us out of balance. Imagine a person who is thin and spirited, who prefers to eat raw and light foods. Like attracts like, which can actually be the root of many imbalances. Let's take a closer look at each Dosha. We'll start with Vata, which is ether and air. Vata represents movement, it rules the breath, the flow of blood, the bowels, and the thoughts that run through the mind. People with Vata as their predominant Dosha tend to be thin, wiry, and anxious. They are changeable, they change their mind, they change their feelings, they change their routine, or as the saying goes, they change with the wind. Vata is associated with the colon and the movement in the bowels. When Vata is not up to par, movement is disturbed. For this reason, Vatas tend toward constipation when imbalanced. When unbalanced, they also tend toward gas, cold hands, and poor circulation. Now let's talk about Pitta. Pitta represents digestive fire. This sounds like Agni, but remember, all elements and all Doshas play the role in digestion too. Pitta also controls metabolism, the breakdown of nutrients. It oversees all chemical processes in the body. When Pitta is off-balance, stools can be loose, heartburn or ulcers can be a sign of too much Pitta. In other words, too much digestive fire. Pittas have a strong appetite, and when the opportunity arises, they can eat a large meal. In terms of personality, Pittas are fiery and erratic like a flame. In digestion, Pitta rules the small intestine. The third Dosha is Kapha. Kapha reigns over structure or form. Form includes muscle, fat, and bones. Kapha provides the container for the digestive process. Kapha is also in charge of fluids, including mucus. This protects the tissue from stomach acid. Kaphas tend to build muscle and hold onto weight. This could be a result of their innate love of fat and sweets. They're slow moving and more methodical. When Kaphas go out of balance, they may gain weight, feel bloated, and produce an overabundance of phlegm and mucus. Kapha dominates the stomach. Kaphas may also experience the need for more sleep. When a person's Doshas get out of balance, their life force is compromised. One of the most important tenets of Ayurveda is to keep your digestive fire or Agni going in order to produce Ojas. This is one of three vital essences that promote wellness in the body. You can think of Ojas as vigor. It's considered to be a byproduct of optimal digestion over time. To recap what we've so far, all three Doshas, Vata, Pitta, and Kapha are necessary for optimal digestion. And optimal digestion is central to health and wellness. Vata provides movement. Pitta provides digestive fire. And Kapha provides structure. All individuals possess the three Doshas in different amounts. Imbalances in life and diet produce imbalances in Doshas. Digestion becomes compromised, which affects one's Ojas or vigor. It makes sense, doesn't it? Now let's talk about how Ayurveda conceptualizes gut disturbances. Looking at conditions from an Ayurvedic perspective is not meant to replace Western medicine. But this complimentary approach can help you identify a diet and lifestyle plan that works with your bio-individuality to address the root causes. IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, the common catch-all for all undetermined gut disturbances, can span the Doshas depending on the symptoms. IBS in the form of constipation is considered a Vata imbalance. IBS in the form of diarrhea is a Pitta disturbance. Any mucus in the stool is a Kapha imbalance. And of course, you can have a combination of these. Heartburn and ulcers are usually considered Pitta imbalances. But these may also arise from a Kapha imbalance when there isn't enough mucus produced. Gas and bloating are seen as Vata imbalances, too much air. Agni, digestive fire, can either be too high or too low, too variable, or imbalanced. Vata tends toward variable Agni. Pitta can be too high and Kapha can be too low. What else influences Agni? Sleeping too much can dull digestive fire, so can eating on an erratic schedule. Ayurveda strongly emphasizes working with the rhythms of your body and with nature. Ayurveda strongly emphasizes that the body can heal itself when the Doshas are supported. With the proper diet, Doshas have the ability to balance themselves. Be sure to check out the handout "Balancing the Doshas with Diet" for more on that. So you're probably wondering how do you find out which Dosha you are. To determine this, it's necessary to look at one's characteristics of body and mind. Do you tend to worry a lot? Do you get bored easily and changed your mind on a whim? You might be a Vata. Are you intense and passionate with sharp focus? You may be a Pitta, or you could be a Kapha if you're strong but slow moving. Remember, this refers to your primary Dosha. We have them all. To help you get an idea of what your primary Dosha is, we've included a handout in this module called "Ayurvedic Questionnaire". This is an informal assessment tool that inventories your personal characteristics to see which Dosha or Doshas you're most closely aligned with. For a more accurate picture, you may wish to consult with an Ayurvedic practitioner. Ayurveda views digestion as the seeds of life. Digestive fire or Agni is what creates health. Western medicine is recently starting to catch onto the idea that optimal health begins in the gut. We're seeing in more and more ways that the mind and body are connected. In Ayurveda, health isn't the absence of symptoms, it's the presence of happiness. Would you agree? Ayurveda categorizes every process in the body, including digestion, into three types of energy or Doshas. Everyone has a primary Dosha or Doshas that make-up their constitution. This can go in and out of balance and shift over time. This concept aligns with the principal of bio-individuality. Which type of Dosha do you think you are? Have you ever looked into this for yourself? Stop by the Facebook group to let us know. We're just skimming the surface of an ancient practice. But I hope this lecture inspires you to look at gut health from multiple angles, from both modern and age-old practices. Until next time.

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Duration: 15 minutes and 41 seconds
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Language: English
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Posted by: ninaz on Apr 4, 2018

Ayurveda and Agni_Final

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