Agni Quiz: Discover Your Digestive Fire
In Ayurveda, we talk about the digestive fire, or agni, a lot—and for good reason, as it is considered absolutely essential to our health and well-being. Ayurveda teaches that our health is rooted in the strength of our digestion, from the nourishment of our tissue layers to the strength of our immune system—it all starts with agni. Similarly, impaired agni is the root of any imbalance.
So what has your own agni been trying to tell you lately?
Based on the strength and quality of the digestive fire, Ayurveda recognizes different types of agni: one type that is balanced, and three types that arise thanks to excess vata, pitta, or kapha.
Obviously, balanced agni is ideal, but the reality is that, for the vast majority of us, we experience some form of imbalance. But how do we know what type of digestive fire we have?
We created this fun and easy agni quiz to help you find out. When you’re done, keep reading to understand your results!
Variable Vishama Agni
Vishama agni is associated with excess vata. With vishama agni, vata’s dry, cold, rough, and mobile qualities show up in digestion, and perhaps elsewhere.
When thinking of the mobile quality, think of the wind. Just as the wind can either fan or snuff out a flame, vishama agni brings a sense of irregularity. Sometimes you are passionate about food with a hearty appetite to match, while other times you aren’t hungry or you honestly just forget to eat. This windy quality may also quite literally manifest as wind (i.e., bloating and gas).
Vata’s dryness and roughness might show up as dry, hard stools that can be difficult to pass and can tend toward less frequent eliminations. Or you can swing back and forth between not going enough and going too much (there’s the irregularity again!). Overall, it is an irregular, erratic type of agni that needs to be carefully tended.
As we are holistic beings, we can experience vishama agni outside of our digestive system too. It can show in our joints and mouths, for example, and in emotions of increased fear or anxiousness.
To come back to balance, vata does best with the qualities of warmth and nourishment, and a vata-pacifying diet brings in the qualities needed to ground this excess vata (that means no more living on cold, raw salads!). For more ideas to balance this type of agni, visit our guide to balancing vishama agni.
Hot and Sharp Tikshna Agni
Tikshna agni is associated with pitta, which is the dosha of fire and water—though with tiksha agni, pitta’s more liquid aspects take a backseat to its fiery, hot, sharp qualities. At first glance, tiksha might seem like the most desirable agni—after all, wouldn’t we want the fiery, hot qualities for a strong digestive fire?
But you know how they say you can’t fight fire with fire? In the case of tikshna agni, it can be too hot and sharp for our bodies to handle.
If you have tikshna agni, you couldn’t ever imagine skipping a meal or forgetting to eat. You have a ravenous, insatiable appetite and you get “hangry” if you go too long between meals.
The excess heat isn’t necessarily satiated by food though, as you may feel hungry shortly after a meal, and you may experience heartburn or hot, sharp sensations in your belly after eating. Tiksha agni might be causing your food to get incinerated and processed too quickly, without giving the body proper nourishment. This can mean you eliminate frequently, more than a few times a day, and it’s hot, loose, and not very pleasant.
Tikshna agni can also bring its heat to other places in the body, such as in the skin, and it can trigger emotions like anger, hate, aggressiveness, and harsh judgement.
To balance tiksha agni, it’s important to cool things down in your digestive tract. (That means no spicy salsas or hot curries!) Embracing a pitta-pacifying diet with soothing foods will go a long way in helping your digestion. For more tips, visit our guide to balancing tiksha agni.
Slow and Dull Manda Agni
Manda agni is associated with kapha, the dosha of earth and water. If you’ve ever tried to start a fire with a damp log while camping, you might see where we’re going with this digestion type. Kapha’s inherent qualities are important for overall balance, but in excess, they make for a difficult environment for the digestive fire to burn brightly.
If you have manda agni, your digestion leans toward slow and sluggish. Being slow, it might not be the digestive fire you start out with. For example, perhaps it’s the result of the eventual watery build-up of years and years spent with tiksha agni—the liquid residue left behind after those tiksha agni flames have finally burnt out.
With the heaviness caused by manda agni, you don’t forget to eat, but sometimes you don’t feel hungry (especially in the mornings), and you can feel heavy or sleepy after eating. You may also find you retain water and excess weight.
These heavy, slow, sluggish qualities continue with your elimination too, from how frequently you go to your experience when going, and your elimination may not feel complete.
Manda agni can spread its slow sluggishness beyond the digestive tract into other parts of the physiology. It can be behind the desire for excess sleep or the emotions of lethargy, boredom, attachment, greed, and possessiveness.
Manda agni can be the most difficult type to balance because of kapha’s stubborn nature, but committing to a kapha-pacifying diet of heating, invigorating foods can help get things moving a little more easily. Check out our guide to balancing manda agni for more ideas.
Balanced Sama Agni
If your quiz results show you have sama agni, congrats! You have balanced digestion, and you're in the category all the rest of us wish we were in. Sama agni is the digestion of perfect balance. It’s like the perfect campfire, staying at just the right size and just the right amount of warmth to do its job while you enjoy the elements around you.
This is the rarest type of digestive fire. Those with sama agni absorb their nutrients to the fullest with the most digestive comfort. As a result, other areas of the body will likely feel more balanced as well, including the mind, emotions, energy levels, and immune system.
Of course, like anything that is perfectly balanced, sama agni can become disrupted. Eating foods according to the season, and paying attention to your Ayurvedic constitution and state of balance, will help keep your digestion in that sweet spot of perfect equilibrium.
If you don’t know your Ayurvedic constitution, we encourage you to take our dosha quiz for more Ayurvedic insights on your own personal health.
Different Agni Types at the Same Time
So what happens if you sometimes feel the presence of more than one type of agni at once? For example, maybe you have an insatiable appetite but your digestive strength is irregular, and you experience bloating and gas after eating (tikshna-vishama agni), or your appetite is irregular and you feel heavy and sluggish after eating (vishama-manda agni).
When this happens, work toward supportive diet and lifestyle changes that can help balance those doshas. Even simple changes can make a difference!
Learning to Love Your Fire
These four agnis are simply a tool to better understand healthy agni from impaired agni and what could be behind the imbalance. The point of these types of tools is to help increase self-awareness so we can apply the wisdom of Ayurveda and begin to heal.
If you are experiencing some digestive imbalances, being able to identify the forces that have disturbed agni is the first step back to balance. Remember that even small changes can make a difference! And if you feel overwhelmed by the process, an Ayurvedic practitioner can help you.