5 ways to balance your Agni
PUBLISHED: 16:51 07 August 2020 | UPDATED: 18:22 17 August 2020
Reigate Ayurvedic practitioner Claire Paphitis offers her top tips for boosting immunity and gut health
Having suffered migraines since she was 12 years old, Reigate mother Claire Paphitis cites the ancient practice of Ayurveda with giving her the health and contentment that she didn’t think she would ever find.
Now an Ayurvedic practitioner, Claire has found people are drawn to the practice, which originated in India and is known as the sister science to yoga, but didn’t know how to apply it to their lives.
In her debut book, Balance Your Agni – An Essential Guide to Ayurveda, she explores the 5,000-year-old medicinal system, and how it can be used to achieve the modern goal of mind/body balance.
“Ayurveda works in the principle that an imbalanced Agni (digestive fire) is the root of all disorders,” she says. “So if we want our bodies to be in good shape we must first look to our digestive health. Balancing digestion and boosting immunity will help you sleep better, reduce stress and anxiety, give you more energy, soothe skin conditions, maintain a healthy weight, balance your hormones and even improve the way you understand yourself and your relationships with family and friends.”
In the book Claire strikes a balance between explaining the fundamentals and sharing knowledge while providing daily and seasonal rituals, practical routines and remedies, in order to recognise what imbalances an individual’s body might have, and how to go about fixing them. Here she shares some of her top tips.
Eat freshly cooked food
Avoiding raw foods, salads etc is one of the best ways to take care of your Agni. I also encourage clients to use plenty of fresh herbs and spices, which help aid digestion. My favourites are cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fresh root ginger, cardamom, nutmeg and cloves.
Ensure you’re getting a good night’s sleep. Going to bed between around 10-11pm and waking at around 6-7am is a good rule of thumb. Proper rest is vital to allow our bodies to repair and rejuvenate. If you find it difficult to nod off treat yourself to a calming foot massage with some nice oils to help ‘bring down’ anxiety and what we call ‘Vata’ energy from the head. In Ayurveda we often use sesame oil, for its grounding properties. You could also try some warm milk (almond milk is lovely) with a pinch of cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg. All these spices are known to soothe the mind and nutmeg is particularly calming for sleep. If you are feeling particularly wired at bedtime, try stirring through 1/4 tsp of organic ghee into the milk mixture with a pinch of sugar as this will further help to calm the Vata energy.
Another Sanskrit word which is pivotal to Ayurveda. Ojas means strength, vitality and immunity! We inherit, or are born with, a certain strength of Ojas - but there are things we can do to boost them, such as eating a small amount of Ghee. But in this current pandemic I would put forward another way of building Ojas and that is through showing love and compassion to others. In the same way a mother can care for her sick children or a doctor can care for his sick patients without getting sick themselves (They increase their Ojas through acting selflessly) so too can we now, more than ever, build up our own Ojas and natural immunity by acting with kindness and consciousness to our friends, family and the world.
Ginger, Lime and Honey
This is an incredibly powerful combination of ingredients that I always use for any cough, cold or excess of mucus. Blend 100g ginger with half a cup of water and squeeze out the juice from the pulp through a fine sieve. Add to this the juice of six limes, 6tsps of honey, 3tsp of brown sugar and enough water until you have 200ml in total. Take 1tbsp of this mixture with half a cup of hot water as a small drink once a day or twice a day AFTER meals if you have cold or flu type symptoms.
A word about water. In Ayurveda we don’t recommend a blanket two litres a day for everyone as we recognise every individual and therefore each need will be different and excessive amounts of water can lead to weight gain. I advocate drinking only when thirsty and to aim for the majority of drinks to be warm or at least room temperature (so avoid adding ice). Again this is better for the digestive fire and your entire digestive system.
Balance Your Agni – An Essential Guide to Ayurveda is out on August 13.