CONCEPT OF AGNI AND ITS IMPORTANCE IN AYURVEDA
The Ayurvedic concept of Agni or fire is critically important to our overall health. Agni is the force of intelligence within each cell, each tissue, and every system within the body. Ultimately, it is the discernment of Agni that determines which substances enter our cells and tissues and which substances should be removed as waste. In this way, Agni is the gatekeeper of life. In fact, according to Ayurveda, when the Agni is extinguished, death soon follows. Ayurveda identifies a vast range of functions for which Agni is directly responsible, but it also teaches us that impaired Agni is at the root of all imbalances and diseases. Ayurveda identifies 13 distinct subtypes of Agni in the body, each defined by its specific physiological function as well as its location in the body. The mother of all of them is Jathara Agni, the central digestive fire that governs the digestion and assimilation of food. But there are many other fire components in the body’s cells, tissues and organs that govern things like sensory perception and the nutrition of specific tissues. Localized manifestations of Agni also determine which substances can cross cell membranes and maintain cellular memory in our DNA. A poor diet, an unsupportive lifestyle, and unresolved emotions can easily hinder Agni by dampening any of these qualities throughout the system. Similarly, nurturing the qualities of Agni in a very general way has the potential to benefit Agni throughout the body. Hence understanding of Agni in one of the important concepts for the understanding of disease process as well as to prescribe principles of treatment.
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