In order to be your healthiest yogi self, you need to eat the right foods—those that are wholesome, fresh, and sattvic (yogic). But uber healthy foods and a daily yoga practice don’t guarantee great digestion—equally important is the way you eat. Incorporating the following principles into your daily routine will boost and maintain your power of digestion. They come from the wisdom of Ayurveda, which was traditionally (and still should be) used by yogis to maintain the healthy physical body needed to support their spiritual pursuits.
Whether or not you’re a yogi, you’ll find that these daily practices will enkindle your agni, or digestive fire. The strength of the agni determines your ability to digest any and all foods. You can imagine this digestive fire similar to a burning fire that’s meant for cooking. If the fire is too low, food won’t cook and will eventually turn putrid. The same thing happens in the digestive tract. If the agni is low or impaired, food isn’t digested properly, toxins accumulate, and disease eventually manifests.
A healthy body is imperative for treading the path of yoga, so make sure your agni is burning brightly. Take care of your digestive fire by following these eight Ayurvedic practices:
After brushing your teeth each morning, use a tongue scraper to remove the toxins that have accumulated on your tongue overnight. A tongue scraper is an inexpensive, V-shaped metal tool. Use it to scrape from the back of your tongue to the front several times.
Each area of the tongue relates to a different internal organ. Scraping your tongue subtly massages each organ, stimulating the digestive process in preparation for breakfast.
The agni is naturally low in the morning. Add fuel to the fire by drinking a cup of hot water before all else. This ignites the agni, moves the bowels, and helps to flush out toxins.
Because agni is naturally low in the morning, your breakfast should be warm and moist. Porridge (like oatmeal) is a great breakfast choice. If your prefer toast, slather it with a little ghee or almond butter to balance out its inherent dryness.
The digestive tract really appreciates routine. If you eat meals around the same time each day, the body knows when to expect food and gets its digestive juices ready for action. Strive for a light breakfast in the morning, lunch between noon and 1 p.m., and dinner between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day will help you to keep up this mealtime routine.
Ginger has the ability to stimulate the digestive fire. To make a ginger appetizer, thinly slice some ginger, and marinate it in a squeeze of lime juice and a pinch of Himalayan salt. Eat a few slices before lunch and dinner.
The agni is in sync with the sun, meaning both burn at their brightest around noon. Have your biggest meal at lunchtime, and consume heavy to digest foods like salads and proteins.
Yogurt is heavy to digest, but churn it into a lassi and it’s easily assimilated. Lassis also encourage proper absorption. To make a digestive lassi, blend 1 cup of plain, fat-free organic yogurt with 4 cups of water for several minutes. Scrape off any foam that accumulates on the top. Add 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin and briefly blend again. You can store this lassi in the refrigerator, bring one cup to room temperature during lunchtime, and drink it when you’re done eating.
The digestive fire should burn brightly. Cold food and drinks douse the fire, so choose room temperature or warm water over cold, and don’t eat foods straight from the fridge. While this is a practice meant to be followed year-round, it’s an especially important health-promoting practice during the cooler months.
In order to continue on your yogic path, you know that you need to be your healthiest self. Keep up a daily yoga practice, eat the right foods, and adopt these eight healthy habits for good digestion.