What is Agnisar Kriya Pranayama
Agnisar Pranayam (अग्निसार प्राणायाम) or Agnisar kriya, also known as Agnisara dhauti or “purification by fire”, is one of the many pranayamas such as Bhastrika, Kapalbhati, Bahaya, Anulom-Vilom, Bharamri, Udgeeth Pranav. This particular pranayama helps the digestive system function at its best. It is a cleansing exercise known as “kriya,” which helps remove waste products from the body naturally. The Hatha Yoga Pradipika, a classic book of Hatha Yoga, guides you through six kriyas (Shat Kriyas). Kriyas are very helpful for people who find weaknesses in their bodies and how they function overall. Agnisara Kriya is not one of the six main Hatha Yoga Kriyas. Still, it is the preparatory practice for Nauli – churning of the muscles practiced by many yogis for thousands of years to improve the digestive process. Most people practice Agnisara Kriya for a few weeks to train the abdominal muscles for the practice of Nauli.
“There is a rule in Yoga that each muscle should move at least once a day. This brings our energy back into flow and releases blockages. Energy is like water. Water that stands still becomes impure and putrid. On the other hand, flowing water always remains pure. This is the reason we should always move the muscles of our abdomen and intestines daily.”– Swamiji
Agni (अग्निसार), in Sanskrit, translates as ‘fire’; Sar means ‘essence’, and kriya means’ action.’ Agnisar kriya is known as Vahnisara (fire) dhauti (cleansing action) or अग्निसार क्रिया. Fire, here, is referencing the fire chakra (Manipur Chakra) found at the navel. The focus is to get the abdominal muscles functioning properly by “fanning” our digestive system – arousing the muscles to move and promote the best possible digestive process.
Agnisar Kriya Pranayama Steps (अग्निसार प्राणायाम कैसे करें)
- Stand on your mat with your feet about 12-16 inches apart.
- Keep your knees loose and bend them slightly.
- Place your hands on your knees and keep your elbows as straight as possible.
- Breathe in deeply.
- Exhale completely, and eliminate as much air as possible from the lungs.
- While exhaling, suck in your abdominal muscles and pull your navel back towards your spine. This is Uddiyana Bandha (navel lock).
- Bring your chin to the chest to do Jalandhara Bandha (chin lock).
- Begin to soften the abdominal muscles when the exhale is complete. Without taking a breath, start to move your muscles in and out at a fast pace.
- It cannot be easy to keep a smooth pace initially, but this will get better with practice.
- Continue this movement for as long as you can hold before needing to breathe again. Make sure not to strain or over-exert yourself.
- When you need to inhale, loosen both the navel lock and the chin lock.
- While inhaling, come back to a standing position. Continue with a few natural breaths until the breathing gets back to normal.
- Repeat steps 2 to 12 a couple more times.
- If you ever feel tired, light-headed, or out of sorts in any way – stop the practice and relax.
Agnisar Kriya: A Methodical Approach
Agnisar Kriya, a yogic practice offering holistic well-being, is often prescribed in its traditional form, where “pressing the navel knot or intestine towards the spine” is recommended for a significant count of one hundred times. However, for those starting this journey, a prudent initiation involves practicing Agnisar Kriya for a more manageable number of 50 repetitions.
To make the most of this practice, consider the following structured approach:
- In the initial phases, begin with a minimum of ten abdominal snaps per cycle in Agnisar Kriya, gradually increasing this count to a maximum of thirty.
- In the winter season, the prescribed practice entails 25 cycles of Agnisar Kriya. In summer, it is recommended to accompany Agnisar Kriya with ten rounds of Sitali Pranayama.
- Beginners should commence with five cycles and incrementally progress to performing up to 15 cycles as proficiency grows.
- After completing the practice, it is advisable to take a moment of rest before transitioning to Shavasana.
Practical Guidelines for Performance
To ensure an effective practice of Agnisar Kriya, consider these practical guidelines:
- Ideally, perform Agnisar Kriya in the early hours of the morning after ensuring your bowels are cleared and your morning routine is complete. If you opt for an evening practice, allow a minimum of four hours to elapse after your last meal.
- In alignment with the seasons, it is recommended to follow the traditional procedure for Agnisar Kriya during winter. In the summertime, complement your practice with ten rounds of Shitali Pranayama to harmonize with the changing climate.
Benefits Of Agnisar Pranayama (अग्निसार क्रिया के फायदे)
Studies show that pranayama or yogic breathing exercises help keep stress levels in check and strengthen abdominals and lungs. A research study written in 2013 in the International Journal of Yoga concludes that the practice of Agnisar Kriya and the correct medication can help in reducing the symptoms of GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease). Instead of prescribing proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs), medical practitioners are more interested in strengthening the muscles and balancing the digestive system with breathwork. PPIs work well in the short term, but they mainly suppress an underlying problem. Doctors also claim that long-term consumption can cause other disorders such as anemia and osteoporosis. Another possible negative outcome is once you have completed the treatment with PPI’s, your body may rebound and provoke GERD further. So why not use a more natural method? Agnisara pranayama not only helps with GERD but also:
- Stimulates appetite and improves digestion.
- Massages and strengthens the abdominal muscles.
- Relieves depression, dullness, and lethargy.
- Energizes the Manipura chakra.
- Increases blood circulation to abdominal muscles, tissues, organs, pelvic muscles.
- Stimulates digestion and metabolism, which allows maximum nutrition intake from food.
- Reduces gas in the stomach and aids with hyperacidity.
- Tones the abdomen walls.
- Kidneys, the small and large intestines are activated and cleansed.
Agnisar Kriya Pranayama Precautions
- Practice this pranayama carefully during the summer months. Your body heat increases, and so does your blood pressure.
- Follow the practice with a cooling pranayama such as Shitkari or Shitali.
- Anyone with high blood pressure, heart disease, glaucoma, hiatal herniam acute duodenal or peptic ulcer, overactive thyroid, or chronic diarrhea should avoid doing this kriya.
- Best to practice on an empty stomach and avoid it during pregnancy, menstruation, or after recent abdominal or spinal surgery.
- We advise speaking to your doctor first if you have any disease of the intestine or pancreas.
- Do not practice Agnisar if you have nervous system, or respiratory ailments.
Agnisar Kriya Side Effects
While Agnisar kriya can have many benefits for the body and mind, it can also have some side effects, including:
- Dizziness or lightheadedness: The vigorous movements involved in Agnisar kriya can cause dizziness or lightheadedness, particularly if you are not used to this type of exercise.
- Nausea: Some people may experience nausea or vomiting during or after performing Agnisar kriya, particularly if they have digestive issues.
- Abdominal discomfort: The rhythmic contractions and release of the abdominal muscles during Agnisar kriya can cause discomfort or cramping in the abdominal area, particularly if you have digestive issues or abdominal pain.
- Fatigue: Agnisar kriya can be a physically demanding practice, and it can leave you feeling tired or fatigued after performing it.
- High blood pressure: Agnisar kriya involves holding the breath while performing the contractions and release of the abdominal muscles, which can cause an increase in blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, you should avoid this practice or perform it under the guidance of a qualified yoga teacher.
It’s important to practice Agnisar kriya under the guidance of a qualified yoga teacher to ensure that you are doing the practice correctly and safely, and to avoid any potential side effects. If you experience any discomfort or unusual symptoms during or after performing Agnisar kriya, you should stop the practice and consult a healthcare professional.