Agnisara Kriya or Vahnisara Dhauti (activating the digestive fire or cleansing with the essence of fire) is a cleansing practice that focuses on stimulating the appetite and improving digestion.
How to do Agnisara Kriya Or Vahnisara Dhauti – Activating The Digestive Fire Or Cleansing With The Essence Of Fire
- Sit in bhadrasana with the big toes touching, or in padmasana.
- Inhale deeply.
- Exhale, emptying the lungs as much as possible.
- Lean forward slightly, straightening the elbows.
- Push down on the knees with the hands and perform jalandhara bandha.
- Contract and expand the abdominal muscles rapidly for as long as it is possible to hold the breath outside comfortably.
- Do not strain.
- Release jalandhara bandha.
- When the head is upright, take a slow, deep breath in.
- This is one round.
- Relax until the breathing normalizes before commencing the next round.
- Beginners may find this practice difficult and quickly become tired due to lack of voluntary control over the abdominal muscles. The muscles must be slowly and gradually developed over a period of time.
- Three rounds of 10 abdominal contractions and expansions is sufficient at first. With regular practice, up to 50 abdominal movements may be performed with each round. The time of breath retention should be gradually increased over a period of time.
- Practice after asanas. Agnisara kriya should be practised on an empty stomach, preferably in the early morning before breakfast, and ideally after the bowels have been emptied.
Agnisara Kriya Benefits
- Agnisara kriya stimulates the appetite and improves digestion.
- It massages the abdomen, strengthens the abdominal muscles and encourages optimum health of the abdominal organs.
- Agnisara kriya stimulates the five pranas, especially samana, and raises the energy levels markedly.
- It alleviates depression, dullness and lethargy.
Precautions while doing Agnisara Kriya
- During summer months, this practice should be performed with care as it may raise the body heat and blood pressure excessively.
- During this period, it should always be followed by a cooling pranayama such as sheetkari or sheetali.
- People suffering from high blood pressure, heart disease, acute duodenal or peptic ulcers, overactive thyroid gland or chronic diarrhoea should not perform this kriya.
- Women who are pregnant should refrain from this practice.
Preparatory Practice: Swana Pranayama (Panting Breath)
- Sit in bhadrasana, keeping the big toes in contact with each other. Place the hands on the knees and close the eyes.
- Relax the whole body for a few minutes, especially the abdomen.
- Straighten the arms and lean forward slightly.
- Keep the head erect.
- Open the mouth wide and extend the tongue outside. Breathe in a panting manner through the mouth, with the tongue extended.
- Contract and expand the abdomen rapidly.
- While contracting the abdomen, breathe out and while expanding the abdomen, breathe in.
- The breathing should be passive, only occurring because the movement of the abdomen is being accentuated. It should resemble the panting of a dog.
- Keep the chest as still as possible. Do not strain.
- Breathe in and out 10 to 20 times.
- This is one round. Practice 3 rounds.
- Relax and breathe normally between rounds.
- Physical – on synchronizing the breath rhythmically with the abdominal movement.
- Spiritual – on manipura chakra.
Practice note while doing Swana Pranayama – Panting Breath
- This kriya is an excellent practice to strengthen and develop control over the abdominal muscles and the diaphragm. It is also used as a preparatory practice for uddiyana bandha and nauli.
- The words agni and vahni both mean ‘fire’; sara means ‘essence’, and kriya means ‘action’ The essence or nature of fire is attributed to the digestive process. If the abdominal organs are not working properly, the digestive fire smulders and needs to be stoked or fanned to increase its power. Agnisara kriya does just that, as well as purifying the digestive system and its associated organs, and allowing the optimum assimilation of nutrients from food ingested.