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What is Agni?


Agni is the energy available within us to transform what we consume into something usable. So agni, in essence, is a transformative force. It’s what allows us to digest food, and digest life. It’s present within all beings and all cells, and throughout the universe.

From Ayurveda we understand that the condition of agni is responsible for vitality and well-being. When agni is consistently impaired the disease process begins. This is important to understand and reflect upon. Agni is a powerful force, not only because it has the ability to influence all aspects of life, but when it is functioning well your mind, body, and spirit thrive. 

Agni is made up of the fire element, which has the capacity to heat, combust, digest, assimilate, and transmute. It’s energy. It has the qualities of heat, subtlety, sharpness, mobility, lightness, dryness, and the ability to penetrate. It shares many of the same qualities of vata and pitta dosha. 

Agni is also the source of our pure intelligence, the bright, and dynamic aspect of us and the universe.  Put another way, agni is the energy within us that identifies something or someone outside of us, processes it, and determines what to do with it  and take appropriate action. The result is transformation or distillation of food and life. 

Perhaps even more interesting is that you can engage with, experience, and alter agni, moment to moment. It is just as much a part of you as your breath. Hence, why in Ayurveda we consider what you consume and how you consume it, from food to relationships to beliefs, to be important.

There are 40 main types of agni

When you begin to understand the nature of agni as an energy force which digests, assimilates, and transmutes, you may notice its presence everywhere. 

It is found in the stomach and the small intestines, where it is responsible for digesting the food we eat. But it’s also present throughout the body. There are 40 types of agni which govern a wide range of functions outside of the stomach. You have agni in your liver and in your pancreas, processing hormones, fats, salts, and sugars. There is agni in each tissue system, from lymph to reproductive tissue. 

You have agni in all your senses and in every cell. Think about that. Agni is responsible for what you consume through your five senses. It takes in experiences so you can understand and give meaning to them. Without agni, you wouldn’t be able to process life. It gives life its fragrance and acts as a bridge between body, mind, and consciousness. 

 The functions of agni

  • Digestion, absorption, and assimilation of food as well as sensory experiences

  • Transmutes food into nutrition, knowledge into wisdom

  • The sense of understanding, knowledge, and nourishment

  • Maintains proper circulation and body temperature

  • Maintains color and complexion, radiance and luster

  • Supports body tissue nutrition

  • Maintains immunity through production of healthy prana, tejas, ojas

  • Supports healthy metabolic activity in the cells

  • The ability for mental clarity and focus

  • Provides the energy for courage, enthusiasm and vitality

  • Allows joy and playfulness

  • Maintains contentment and a sense of wholeness

  • Ignites discernment and wisdom

  • Supports patience and longevity

  • Strength, stability, and endurance

The signs of impaired agni

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, your agni is impaired:

  • Symptoms of IBS; cramping, bloating, diarrhea and loose stools, constipation or straining, reflux and flatulence

  • Anxiety or depression without circumstance 

  • Low energy, foggy brain and fatigue relieved by eating 

  • Skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and acne 

  • Stubborn belly fat despite extensive dieting

  • Female hormone imbalances from PMS, PMDD, PCOS, to endometriosis, to hormone related acne 

  • Auto-immune conditions

  • Carbohydrate cravings, low or high blood sugar, inability to miss a meal

That’s right. These common symptoms reflect impaired agni, all of which can be resolved by understanding agni and supporting its balance.

The 4 different states of agni

Impaired agni can mean that agni is weak, too strong, or it’s inconsistent.  Just like a fire it can either smolder or rage, depending upon the food, the lifestyle, and environmental condition. Is it efficient, turning fuel into usable energy, or excessively mobile and agitated, leading to indigestion, gas, pain, or constipation? Is it overburdened, weak, or sluggish resulting in congestion, dullness, heaviness, or ama (metabolic toxins)? Understanding the nature of your body and mind is a key component when addressing agni. 

In Agni Therapy, a 4-week program designed to reset and restore your agni, we address these different states and how you can heal them. And as you may have gathered, in doing this, your entire life transforms. 

How to build agni

Remember, agni is your capacity to digest. It’s not solely connected to what you eat. When you begin to honor agni, take care of it, and heal it in your body, everything shifts. 

So, paying attention to how you nourish yourself and supporting agni are foundational building blocks to well-being. This is also why a dinacharya (following the rhythm of the day) is so important. Your daily rituals, including the meals you eat, directly impact the condition of your agni. 

If you’ve been experiencing digestive issues for a while, you may be thinking, how can I increase agni in the stomach? It’s not so much increasing as it is balancing and optimizing agni’s strength and functionality.  Fire creates change. It tones, cooks, or bakes what you consume. Sometimes it’s stopping or removing that which is getting in the way so the body’s innate wisdom can happen naturally. 

However if the fire is too much, the result in the body and mind can be burning urine or bowel movements, ulcers, blisters, dry mouth, frustration and anger.  The opposite is true when agni is weak. Food will sit, become stagnant or compress, and eventually create blockages which build ama or toxins. This is when you may experience constipation, stiffness in the body, allergies, chronic fatigue, dullness in the body and mind, and weight gain.

Therefore when you enhance the ability of agni to operate properly, the body and mind, as a whole respond. 

Now what?

We have a program called Agni Therapy, which focuses on healing agni holistically and naturally in 4 weeks. We also offer more advanced training, such as Ayurvedic Health Advisor or Ayurvedic Health Counselor. These explore the holistic nature of Ayurveda and Yoga and how you can apply them both personally and professionally.  


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Originally Published on

Myra Lewin Hale Pule Ayurveda and Yoga

Ayurvedic Practitioner and Ayurveda Yoga Therapist, Myra Lewin is a professional member of the National Ayurvedic Medical Association and a master yogini. Myra has amassed more than 100,000 hours of Yoga teaching experience spanning 30+ years of practice.

In 1999 Myra Lewin founded Hale Pule Ayurveda and Yoga.

She is the author of several acclaimed books on Ayurvedic nourishment including, Freedom in Your Relationship with Food , Simple Ayurvedic Recipes, Dine with Myra, and Simple Ayurvedic Recipes II. Myra is also the host of two remarkable podcasts on holistic healing, “Everyday Ayurveda and Yoga at Hale Pule” and “Spark Your Intuition”.

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