|[ Excerpt from The Science of Yoga, page 381 ]
Central to digestion in the yogic view is the concept of agni, or digestive fire.
Akin to a fire which has not been adequately fed with wood-fuel; or one which rages out of control with over supply; or one that becomes extinguished with non-combustibles, the Indian health science of ayurveda puts primary attention upon the proper kindling of this “fire” for proper digestion (and hence, absorption) of the food we eat.
This digestive fire is not only affected by the type of foods that we eat, but also the combinations of foods eaten and the amount of food taken at one time. Too much food can act like sand on a fire (extinguishing it), yet too little food can cause the fire to simply burn itself out.
With our modern lifestyles -- food on the go, quick and often nutritionally incomplete meals, overeating at one moment and then long periods without food the next—it is no surprise that this agni is a force that has become erratic and out of balance in most people.
When we look at digestion as a wood stove so-to-speak, one that needs careful and constant attention (i.e., regularly throwing on enough wood to keep it going, without over-fuelling and smothering it), then we can create more appropriate eating habits to keep this fire burning strong and steady. The body, when balanced, gives us clear and definite signals in the form of hunger and satiation.
NOTE: This yoga article is an excerpt from The Science of Yoga, an online yoga training program with streaming yoga videos and 600 pages of step-by-step yoga instruction.
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