Agni vs Ama; the Battle for Good Digestion

In the daily drama of digestion, the two main players are Agni and Ama. -2

Agni, the digestive fire, takes the role of hero in the story. When Agni is burning brightly and steadily, then digestion takes place normally.

When Agni s diminished for any reason, then the villain, Ama, starts to collect in the digestive tract. Ama has opposite qualities of the firey agni. Cold and sticky, a toxic waste product of incomplete digestion, Ama collects in the tissues and creates imbalance wherever it spreads.


Two other factors are critical to the digestive process: the quality of the food and the way it is eaten. Even if a person had strong Agni, Ama could still be created if the person eats the wrong kind of food or eats in a hurried, unsettled manner.

Good digestion is central to health. Many diseases may arise from poor digestion. When Agni is low and the food is not prepared and eaten properly, then Ama collects in the digestive tract and travels to other areas of the body where it forms the basis for the disease process. Lowered immunity, aching muscles and joints, arthritis, and fatigue may indicate a build-up of Ama. When Agni is at a normal level, it tends to burns up Ama, creating a state of balance throughout the entire system.

And when digestion is functioning flawlessly, Ojas, the final product of digestion, gets created. Ojas is the finest material aspect of the body—the link between consciousness and matter. (We’ll talk more about Ojas next week.) Ojas is responsible for establishing and maintaining balance in the mind/body system. The more Ojas your body produces, the greater your health, immunity, and happiness.

How can you tell if your digestion is running smoothly? One of the main ways to tell is how you feel after eating. A feeling of dullness, heaviness, and fatigue after meals, or symptoms such as gas or bloating, usually indicate poor digestion.

On the other hand, if you feel lightness and bliss after eating, you’re probably producing Ojas.

Another way to tell if your digestion is in good shape is by how your tongue looks in the morning. Ama tends to collect on the tongue, and if the tongue is heavily coated, it is a sign that Ama is present elsewhere in the body. If the tongue is pink and clear, then digestion is probably functioning well.

Other signs of improper digestion are bad breath, body odor, constipation, or diarrhea.

Simple Tips for Strengthening Digestion

Eat your main meal at noon

Eat light at night

Try to maintain regular meal times

Don’t snack between meals

Go to bed by 10:00

The most accurate way to tell how your digestion is functioning is through pulse assessment. Experts trained in the sophisticated technique can detect irregularities in digestion even before they manifest into symptoms. They can also pinpoint where Ama has built up on the body and identify imbalances throughout the body. For more information on Ayurveda consultations, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

Exercising in Vata Season

As the temperature outside drops and chilly winds begin to blow, Vata increases in our environment and in our physiologies. If you are a Vata-type or tend to have Vata imbalances, the transition into fall and winter may mean rethinking your exercise routine.

No matter what the season, understanding your Ayurveda body type is important when it comes to choosing a physical activity that supports health and balance as well as providing strength and fitness. But this is especially important in the fall. Because the main quality of Vata is movement, Vata dosha tends to move out balance very easily. It is simply its nature. Unfortunately, Vata imbalances can affect the other doshas as well, creating secondary imbalances in Pitta and Kapha. Keeping Vata in balance is one of the best preventative steps that you can take to stay healthy all winter long.

Understanding Your Physiology

Those with Vata-type physiologies tend to have little endurance, doing well with quick, short bursts. While they may love fast and vigorous activity, they can tire quickly and too much activity can throw them out of balance.

Pitta types are more agile, with a medium muscled frame. While they have less endurance than Kapha-types, Pittas do well with most exercises in moderation

Kapha types tend to be heavier, slower. They excel in endurance and have strong, steady energy.

Vata-Pacifying Exercise for Fall


While high impact sports like jogging or aerobics classes are generally fine for Pitta- and Kapha-types, Vata types do better with lower-impact sports. If you are heading inside for exercise, stationary bikes, cross-country ski machines or elliptical machines are better than treadmills. They provide an aerobic workout with a minimum of impact on the body, and they work not only the lower body but the upper body as well.

Strength training is also a good choice, as long as you do not strain. Better to do more repetitions at a lighter weight and slowly build up strength.

Yoga is an ideal exercise for those with Vata imbalances. Yoga positions should be done slowly and without strain.

If you are continuing to enjoy exercising outside, be sure to wear a hat, headband or ear muffs to protect your head and ears against the cold and winds. Brisk walking is a better choice than jogging.

In general, use comfort, balance and rest as your criteria for healthy exercise.

Ideal Times to Exercise

The ideal time for exercise is during Kapha time, after sunrise in the morning and until 10:00 am.

You can also try evening exercise between 6 and 10:00 pm, but be alert to how that may affect your sleep. Remember, it is good for Vatas to have some warm food in the evening so that they do not become hungry during the night. Therefore, you’ll want to have time in the evening to eat a relaxed meal and digest your food for some time before heading to bed. Don’t let exercising in the evening rush this evening routine. Sleep is the most important element in pacifying Vata; so a good evening should routine trump everything else.

If you are not sure what your body type is, consider scheduling a consultation with an Ayurveda expert.

Pacifying Vata to Address Back Pain

Driving through my neighborhood this last week I kept seeing people preparing their houses and yards for winter. It occurred to me that this alertness to the change of seasons also needed to extend our own physiologies. As we head into the fall season it is very important to start taking measures to pacify Vata dosha. Vata controls all movement in the body and not surprisingly, it is the first dosha to move out of balance. Late fall and winter are known as Vata season because they are marked by the same qualities that characterize Vata: cold, dry, and moving. As Vata increases in the environment it increases in our bodies.


Vata imbalances include insomnia, aching joints, arthritis, back pain, constipation, high blood pressure and anxiety. All body types are vulnerable to Vata imbalance at this time of the year, but those whose body types are predominantly Vata need to be especially alert to staying in balance. Today let’s look specifically at back and joint pain.

The Vata/Kapha Connection

One very common result of Vata imbalance is the sudden onset of back pain. Often it seems to come out of nowhere. You get out of bed in the morning or lean down to tie your shoe and suddenly find yourself immobilized.

Ayurveda recognizes that back pain is often the result of Vata and Kapha imbalances, aggravated by a build-up of ama. This helps explain why lower back pain often appears in the fall and winter, and why the incidences of back pain often increase with age. According to Ayurveda, when we are 60 and over we are in the Vata time of life. It makes sense that Vata imbalances — and their resulting problems — appear more frequently during Vata season and during the Vata period of life.

In the case of back pain, the build up of Vata interferes with the ability of Kapha dosha to support and lubricate the spine. This dryness further aggravates Vata, creating a vicious cycle leading to back pain, aches and stiffness in the joints, and constipation or difficulties with elimination.


Ama —toxins and impurities that accumulate in body—is another factor to be considered with back and joint pain. When Vata and Kapha are aggravated they mix with the ama, creating either a Vata-aggravated ama or a Kapha-aggravated ama. This ama can become lodged in the joints, blocking joint movement and interfering with the production of fluid lubricating the joints. This leads to cracking joints, stiffness, pain, loss of cartilage and overproduced bone growth at the joints resulting in osteoarthritis.


Effective preventive treatment for chronic lower back pain should include regular stretching, such as yoga exercises. The authentic, traditional Ayurveda treatments (Panchakarma) offered at The Raj specialize in removing ama and impurities that have accumulated in the joints and tissues.  They also help balance Vata, allowing Kapha to once again function normally.


If you are prone to lower back pain, avoid eating Vata-aggravating foods such as dry foods and raw vegetables. Also avoid root foods, which not only aggravate Vata but also have certain properties that can adversely affect joints. To reduce ama, avoid cheese, meat and heavy, fried, or processed foods. Eat your main meal at noon and take a lighter meal in the evening. Drink lots of warm or hot beverages, such as herbal teas (like licorice root and ginger teas) throughout the day. Avoid cold, iced drinks and food. This is the time of year to make sure you include ghee and olive oil in your foods, as the oil helps combat the dryness of the season.

Daily Oil Massage

Pacifying Vata is the key to keeping everything else in balance. A simple home oil massage each morning or evening can help soothe Vata and also help remove ama from the skin tissues.


Many people find that their back goes out when they are under stress. In a stressful situation the whole body can tighten, tense, and can easily go into muscle spasm, which can push vertebrae out of place. At The Raj, daily practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique is recommended to reduce stress, thereby reducing incidences of lower back problems.

For more information on Panchakarma treatments or Transcendental Meditation, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa web site:

Can Ayurveda Help with Baldness or Thinning Hair?

Baldness is often purely hereditary; when that is the case, baldness in and of itself is not indicative of imbalance. But baldness can be aggravated by (and sometimes caused by) imbalances in the physiology, which Ayurveda can help remove.

In either case—heredity or imbalance—baldness is generally related to Pitta dosha, the dosha associated with heat, transformation and metabolism. Those with strongly Pitta constitutions are especially prone to baldness. They can aggravate this tendency through overuse of salt, heavily spiced food, fermented foods, tea or coffee, alcohol and red meat. Excess exposure of the head to the sun or to hot water can also increase Pitta. Even anger can have the same effect.

To reduce Pitta imbalances, try to identify aspects of your diet and lifestyle that may be aggravating Pitta. Take Pitta-pacifying steps, such as wearing a hat on hot days, avoiding exercise during the hot time of the day, and following a Pitta-reducing diet. Massaging the head daily with coconut oil or some other cooling oils can have a soothing effect not only on the scalp, but also on the head as a whole.

Increase fresh foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals. Increase amounts of carrots, alfalfa and green, leafy vegetables, and fresh sweet, juicy fruits. Avoid junk foods and refined sugars. Be sure you are drinking plenty of room temperature water.

There are, of course, other causes for thinning of the hair, such as high stress, thyroid imbalance, high fever, sudden weight loss and certain drugs. If you are experiencing sudden hair loss, you should see a doctor.

Look also to your digestion. According to Ayurveda, hair is the product of the creation of bone tissue (Asthi). Any disturbance in the metabolism of Asthi will affect the health of your hair. Since the quality of the creation of our tissue depends greatly on the quality of our digestion, to some degree, healthy digestion is associated with healthy hair.

Many times poor digestion can be associated with an imbalance in Vata dosha. Imbalanced Vata can also work to “fan” or increase Pitta imbalances.

Premature graying is related to the same Vata and Pitta factors. Some of the treatments used in Panchakarma, the traditional Ayurveda purification and detoxification therapies, can be helpful for grey hair. These include Shirodhara and Nasya.

If you are suffering from graying or thinning hair, a consultation with an Ayurveda expert can help you determine what steps you to manage your symptoms. They can also identify which oils will be best for daily head and scalp massage, and whether a Vata-pacifying or Pitta-pacifying approach will be most helpful.