Like so many of us, I’ve been watching this wild unfolding we are collectively experiencing in our world with a constant feeling of being on edge. Of stepping into the unknown and not knowing what is to come.
In fact, it has taken me the last few weeks to begin to arrive at a place of acceptance of our current reality and with that, I’ve come to realize that I need to show up NOW more than ever to share whatever tools I’ve gained from years of studying Yoga, Ayurveda and being committed to natural healing practices, so that I can offer help.
Which brings me to what I want to share with you today.
It’s a concept that is key to Ayurvedic living and I hope will help you to stay strong and vibrant especially right now.
It is something I call Ayur-Immunity.
In Ayurveda, your immunity is directly connected to the health of your gut. In fact, disease in Ayurveda is always seen as a manifestation of imbalance in your digestive system and whenever we want to improve our vitality, our metabolism and the overall feeling of ease in our bodies, mind and spirit, we look at the state of our Agni, or our digestive fire.
A good way to think about Agni is that it is the intelligence in every cell, tissue and system in our bodies that helps us to properly ingest, digest, and eliminate what we take in.
Why is maintaining good Agni important especially right now?
Good, balanced Agni helps our body to experience its ultimate state of vitality. We don’t feel depleted, we don’t feel sluggish and we are able to eliminate waste matter efficiently out of our bodies, which helps to keep our immunity functioning at its optimal level, thus allowing us to keep flus and viruses more easily at bay.
How do we keep our Agni happy? Here are a few tips.
- Choose simple, wholesome foods and eat them ideally lightly steamed or cooked. Cooked food is easier on our digestion than raw foods, especially in cold weather aka the flu season.
- Eat diversely and what is in season. Eating what is local and in season is essential to maintaining more harmony with our larger environment, which is what we are trying to do to maintain healthy gut flora.
- Eat unsprayed, organic foods as much as is possible – the toxins in soil and pesticides leaks directly into food grown in this way and right into our bodies. But I know you know this.
- Eat moderately: The Ayurvedic maxim is to eat 1/3 solid food, 1/3 liquid food and to leave 1/3 of your stomach empty so that your Agni has room to function well. i.e. It is not crowded.
- Avoid cold water and especially ice water. This is akin to throwing cold water on a smoldering fire. It will put it out. Instead sip warm water and digestive teas to gain the opposite effect.
- Do not snack all day. This is hard, especially with so many of us at home and close to our pantries and refrigerators. When we eat constantly through a day, we add undigested food to digested food already in our stomach, which confuses our body and slows down our metabolic fire, just as if we were adding wet logs (new food) to a burning fire (previously digested food). This creates sluggishness and slows down our digestion. Our bodies and our bellies love routine; and we learn how to secrete stomach acids according to when we are most used to eating a meal so we prime our body to digest food well. So during this time of being at home, focus on creating a routine and stick to it. Ideally, eat a light breakfast that lasts you until lunch. Make lunch your most substantial meal. If you are starving at 4 p.m., have a light snack – possibly a handful of nuts or maybe some fruit; and then eat something stewy or soupy at dinner so your body does not have to work too hard at night to digest your food.
- Finally, pay attention to how you feel after eating. Notice if your food gives you a sense of energy and vitality vs. making you feel tired.
And when you need a boost to kindle your digestive fire, here is a simple tea I have been drinking daily all through this Pandemic. This tea is simple to make and delicious to drink. I hope you will enjoy it. And it has the healing benefits of specific herbs that will help to balance your Agni and keep your digestive fires burning bright. Traditionally this tea contains the herbs cumin, coriander and fennel, three digestive herbs which I explain more in detail below. However, I’ve added in some fresh ginger slices as well as a good pinch of cinnamon to help detoxify the digestive canal and clear out our respiratory passages.
Read on for the recipe and the incredible herbal benefits of each ingredient.
Agni Kindling Immunity Tea
- 2 tsp cumin seeds or 1.5 tsp cumin powder
- 2 tsp coriander seeds or 1.5 tsp coriander seeds
- 2 tsp fennel seeds or 1.5 tsp fennel seeds
- 2 ” thinly sliced fresh ginger root
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 4 – 6 cups filtered water
- Bring all the ingredients to a boil.
- Allow the tea to simmer until it reduces by 1/3. Sip 6 oz along with meals or after meals and through the day.
- You can make double the amount and keep it in the fridge for tomorrow, but please drink it warm or at room temperature.
Cumin: This warming, aromatic spice offers digestive support and is considered balancing for all the three doshas or elements that make up our constitution of air, water and fire.
Coriander: This detoxifying spice stimulates the appetite, warms the body from the inside out, yet does not aggravate our fire element. It also acts upon the lungs and helps to clear mucus out, which make it essential I think in a supportive tea right now.
Fennel: This sweet and cooling herb balances all the doshas and warms our Agni. It is also soothing to the nervous system and helps to move excess Vata or air element out of the body. Fennel is a lovely anxiety reducer.
Fresh Ginger: Rejuvenating and healing; ginger stokes our digestion and clears circulatory channels in the body.
Cinnamon: Bitter, sweet and warming, cinnamon detoxifies the gut, improves the absorption of our food and clears our respiratory tract. Its sweet taste also helps to balance out our blood sugar levels.
I hope that you enjoy this tea. Please make it and share it with the hashtag #yogue on social media. I would love to know how you feel after drinking it.
Namaste + Peace,