Fasting in Ayurveda

Very interesting article about fasting in Silicon Valley today that reminded me a bit of the attitude towards Fasting in Ayurveda.

Fasting in Ayurveda

Ayurveda, and Yoga, its sister science, are quite keen on regular fasting to promote health and wellness. Fasting in Ayurveda is seen as a way to rest our gut and allow our digestive fire, called Agni in Ayurveda, to rekindle itself.

Health Benefits of Fasting: Build Agni

Agni is both our digestive and metabolic fire. It is one of the bases of health in our body. When Agni is strong it is much harder for Ama, a kind of toxic sludge at the root of much disease, to collect in the gut and lungs.

If Ama is allowed to accumulate in the Lungs or gut over time it migrates into the tissues of the body associated with either Kapha, Pitta, or Vata doshas, causing the doshas to elevate and disease to form.

Agni is the basis of all transformation in the body. This is why it is associated with Pitta dosha, and why it is involved in all metabolic processes, physical and mental.

When we take a break from eating, especially in wealthy developed countries where we routinely eat too much food and the wrong kinds of heavy and cold foods, its like giving the fire in the wood burning stove the chance to burn up all the fuel there. For a time the fire burns hot and strong.

This makes regular fasting a good therapy for chronic congestive constipation, where constipation is a function of sluggish Kaphic digestive tract.

Intermittent Fasting versus Radical Fasting

Another thing about fasting, which explains why spiritual seekers through history have also used fasting, is that once we remove food and digestion from the picture, our mental faculties become temporarily clearer.

Let's be clear--Ayurveda is a middle path and does not advocate for radical fasting. But regular limited fasting, which can even mean fasting from certain foods while keeping others, can help clear the mind and eliminates one of the pleasurable distractions that can keep us from being mindful. 

Buddhist monks don't ordinarily fast, but they do eat nothing after sunset. Some Buddhist monastics only eat one meal per day, and at noon.

Most healthy people can fast for 24 hours once a week. Even weak people can do a Mono-diet fast or cleanse in which they eat only unsalted liquids or plain unsalted food like rice with watered down yogurt, or fruits and boiled raw milk, over the course of a day.

Fasting in Ayurveda and the Doshas

Of the doshas, Vata is the weakest and must be most careful about fasting, usually needing some kind of nutrition. Pitta already has strong Agni, and needs to have some kind of cooling beverage when fasting, like coconut water in summer, or lime juice lemonade in other seasons. Kapha, espcially Kapha-Pitta types can handle hard fasting, even drinking just water.

For more on fasting in Ayurveda, see this link.

And today's article from the Guardian newspaper, on intermittent fasting in Silicon Valley, have a look here ,

copyright eyton shalom, L.Ac. San Diego, CA Sept, 2017 All Rights Reserved, Use With Permission Ayurveda, Acupuncture, and Chinese Medicine in San Diego