“The rule in Yoga is that every muscle in the body should move at least once a day. This helps to bring our energy back into flow and releases any blockages. Energy is like water which needs to flow constantly as water that stands still becomes impure and putrid. Flowing water always remains pure so we should always move the muscles of our body, abdomen and intestines daily.”
Agnisara Kriya is strictly not one of the 6 main Hatha Yoga Kriyas but is the preliminary practice for Nauli – churning of the stomach muscles. It’s good to practice Agnisara Kriya for a few weeks to strengthen the abdominal muscles for the practice of Nauli. Agni means fire and Sara means wash so it literally means to wash the fire chakra (Manipur Chakra) located at the navel centre. The exercise also stimulates the immune system, increases the power of digestion and increases the heat in the body, burning off toxins. It is also helpful for diabetes.
Doing the Pose
Agnisara Kriya (activating the fire)
Sit in bhadrasana with the big toes touching, or 1n
Exhale, emptying the lungs as much as possible.
Lean forward slightly, straightening the elbows.
Push down on the knees with the hands and perform
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.
Duration: 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.
Awareness:Physical – on the abdominal movement.
Sequence: Practise 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.
Precautions: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.
Contra-indications: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.
Benefits:Agnisara kriya stimulates the appetite and improves the digestion. I t 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.
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.