Agnisara Kriya is a quintessential yogic practice involving pranayama and asana. It targets regulating and purifying the Manipura chakra by removing the toxins out of the body.
In hatha yoga, Agnisara is performed by retaining the breath out (Bhaya kumbhaka) and then rapidly moving the abdominal wall in and out. Besides stimulating the digestive fire, it ignites the hidden fire within you and cleanses the fire chakra.
This practice enhances all the major systems of the body and enables the practitioner to harness the inner strength fully.
Agnisar Kriya Meaning
The term “Agni” refers to “fire” and “Sara” means “essence”. This “Agni” denotes the internal elemental fire which regulates digestion, elimination, and transformation. “Sara”, however, shows the significant function that the fire regulates.
Agnisar Kriya strengthens mainly the core muscles which eventually elevates the digestive organs.
In Hatha Yoga Pradipika, it is mentioned by the name Vahnisara Dhauti, where “Vahni” also refers to “fire” and “Dhauti” means “cleansing”. Hence, Agnisar Kriya not only creates heat in the body but also purified the fire chakra, solar plexus. However agnisar purifies the digestive system, but still, it’s not a shatkarma rather it’s performed as a preliminary practice to prepare the body for Nauli Kriya (one of 6 shatkarma).
Besides this, the breathing sequence involved in it eliminates toxins and prevents several ailments. Thus, it also improves the functioning of the immune system.
Agnisar Kriya Steps
- Stand with legs slightly apart, take a deep breath in through the nose.
- Exhale it out fully through the nose. Exhalation should be deep enough so your abdominal wall goes inside as much as possible.
- After this step, the air should not be entered into your body via breathing. Placing both the hands on the thighs, micro bend the knees and lean slightly forward.
- Relax the abdominal muscles and then draw the navel in and upward towards the spine.
- Bring your chin to your chest performing the Jalandhara bandha.
- Begin snapping the abdominal muscles back and forth 10-15 times holding the breath out.
- Then, inhale releasing the abdomen back to center, and breathe normally.
- This is the completion of one cycle of Agnisar Kriya.
Note: Some sources also mention that this practice can be done in a comfortable seated pose. Placing hands straight on the knees exerting slight pressure contracting the abdomen.
Duration of Agrisar Kriya
For the duration of Agnisar Kriya, Gheranda Samhita mentions, “Press in the navel knot or intestine towards the spine for one hundred times.” However, for a beginner, practicing it for a maximum of 50 times is more than enough.
Follow the given instructions for easily yielding benefits from this practice as per the duration and number of repetitions.
- It is suggested to snap the abdomen at least 10 times in one cycle of Agnisar kriya increase it up to 30.
- During winters practice 25 cycles of the kriya and in summers, Agnisar Kriya must be followed by 10 rounds of Sitali Pranayama.
- Beginners can initiate by practicing five cycles and gradually increase it up to 15.
- Once completed with the practice, rest for a while then perform Shavasana.
Anatomy of Agnisar Kriya
Agnisar kriya improves the physiology of the practitioner by improving digestion, metabolism, eliminating toxins, and energizing the body. Its anatomy can be understood under the following sub-heads:
1. Removes waste out of the body
In the Agnisar Kriya, the focus is kept on holding the breath out and snapping the abdominal muscles and organs. The vigorous contraction an expansion of the stomach stimulates the bowel movement and removes the stagnant food and stool from the gastrointestinal tract
2. Nourishing the entire body
The removal of stool (toxins) from the body initiates the process of assimilation. It causes better digestion of food material in the intestine and the nutrients get absorbed by the body. It nourishes every cell of the body and promotes the formation of new cells.
3. Stimulates digestive fire
The contraction and relaxation of the abdomen during Agnisar Kriya puts pressure on internal organs. It strengthens the abdominal muscles and organs thereby facilitating their proper functioning.
This further helps in inducing the secretion of digestive juices which provokes the digestive fire. It further causes the assimilation of nutrients from the food.
4. Promotes better metabolism rate
Most of the catabolic and anabolic process within the body occurs and gets affected during the process of digestion. Since the digestion is improving as described above the metabolism rate is also improved by practicing the Agnisar Kriya.
This provides immense benefits to the body on the physiological and energetic levels.
Contraindications and Precautions
- People with high blood pressure, hernia, intestinal issues, and other ailments must avoid it.
- Do not practice Agnisar Kriya while recovering from abdominal surgery.
- Avoid it if you have ear, nose, and eye problems.
- Women during menstruation and pregnancy must not practice Agnisar Kriya.
- Practitioners must have only a light diet and avoid non-veg, fried, or oily food.
- Abstain alcohol and smoking if you are practicing Agnisar Kriya.
- Keep the back and head erect throughout the practice.
- Do not sink the chest or curve the back while exhaling the breath out before snapping the abdomen.
- Never pull in from below the sternum to contract the abdominal muscles.
- While contracting the abdomen, be cautious about holding the breath and avoid inhaling at all.
Agnisar Kriya Benefits
1. Strengthens the core muscles
Agnisara kriya works on the abdominal region and is executed by churning the belly. The abdominal organs contract and relax which strengthens the core internally and externally.
2. Cures digestive issues
Performing Agnisara Kriya leaves massaging and soothing effects on the abdominal organs. Thus, this practice is best to get relief from constipation, acidity, and other gastric issues.
A study in 2013 [efn_note] Can yoga be used to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3734640/ [/efn_note] found Agnisar Kriya with other pranayamas like Kapalbhati significantly relives gastroesophageal reflux disease. The study claims agnisar kriya induces diaphragmatic tone to increase LES tone (lower esophageal sphincter) which enables venting of gas from the stomach in acidity.
3. Cures dysmenorrhea (Menstrual disorder)
Along with the abdominal region, agnisar also stimulates pelvic floor muscles and reproductive glands. So, it alleviates menstrual discomfort by relieving abdominal cramps, heavy bleeding, and accompanying back pain.
4. Energetic and psychological benefits
While drawing the navel in it also stimulates the solar plexus (Manipura chakra). This boosts self-confidence, builds enthusiasm, and helps in getting rid of anxiety. [efn_note] Psychophysiological effects of yoga on stress in college students https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5868218/ [/efn_note]
5. Relieves respiratory disorders
Agnisar Kriya is a form of pranayama, hence serves as a gentle exercise for the lungs and entire respiratory tract. The vigorous inhalation and exhalation involved while flapping the stomach in and out remove any accumulated cough from the lungs. Therefore, it cures asthma, tuberculosis, and other lung diseases.
6. Agnisar kriya burns belly fat
Agnisar is a very powerful practice that stretches the abdominal muscles and burns the extra fat layer deposited around the abdomen and navel region. It tones the abdominal organs and muscles. So it can be practiced to get rid of obesity.
Research [efn_note] Yoga And Its Influential Factor Towards Obesity http://ijsc.net/docs/issue9/yoga-influential-factor-obesity.pdf [/efn_note] showed positive results towards weight loss incorporating three rounds of Agnisar Kriya daily with other pranayama technique. Yogis normally take 2 to 3 minutes to perform 100 strokes of agnisar daily and it’s said, doing this for just one month in this manner can reduce 2 to 3 centimeters of waist fat.
7. Therapeutic for diabetic patients
Agnisar Kriya squeezes and tones the internal organs including the liver and pancreas. It regulates the proper secretion of insulin and other enzymes by the liver. It also improves the metabolism rate of the body, hence provides soothing conditions that can cure diabetes.
8. Delays aging
Since it generates heat within the body it fuels the body providing and harnessing maximum energy. It rejuvenates the entire body from cells to organs, brings enthusiasm, and builds immunity against ailments. Hence, Agnisar Kriya delays the signs of aging and retains youthfulness.
Agnisar Kriya is a beginner level practice that anyone can perform to gain benefits from. It not only improves body functioning but also prepares it for advanced yogic practices like Bhastrika and Kapalbhati pranayama.
It doesn’t require much time but provides tonnes of health benefits. Spare a few minutes from your hectic schedule for Agnisar Kriya to live life to its fullest and to gain productivity.