Agnisara Kriya, Fire Pump Pranayama to Purify Abdomen

Author: Randeep Singh / go to all Techniques of Yoga articles

Agni means fire,

and Sara stands for movement;

Agnisara Kriya is the process of cleansing

or purifying the organs of the abdomen,

by the heat ( fire) generated during

the practice of this breathing technique.

It comes under the vitalizing ( heating effect)

category of breathing techniques of Yoga,

as opposed to the cooling effect,

the tranquilizing category of pranayamas impart to the practitioner.

It falls under the Dhauti, meaning cleansing, action out of the six actions, shatkarmas, as mentioned in hatha yoga pradipika. Thus it is also known as vahnisara dhauti which means activating the digestive fire. Vahni also means fire. 

Sara also means the essence, agni Sara here means the essence of fire which is normally attributed to the digestive process.  When the digestive fire or the energy of the abdominal organs whittle out, the digestive process goes sluggish, agnisar kriya helps fan the digestive fire back to its full potential. Agnisara kriya is also known as Agnisara dhauti or purification by fire.

In order to grasp the procedure of agnisar kriya pranayama one must begin by practicing Swana pranayama as a preliminary activity. It is the simple form of agnisar dhauti itself. Swana means “panting” like an animal or like dog pants – it breathes by short, fast breaths with its tongue hanging out of its mouth.  In Swana pranayama one learns to coordinate abdominal movement with oral breathing. Agnisara dhauti uses Sunyata -suspension of breath after exhalation – while making the abdominal movements, whereas in Swana pranayama one breathes rapidly while making similar movements with the abdomen. Here the abdominal muscles are used instead of the diaphragm as in normal breathing

Preliminary to Agnisar Kriya -Swana pranayama

  1. To begin with, one can sit in Bhadrasana – place the hips between the thighs on the floor from Vajrasana with toes touching and knees apart -by placing the palms on the respective knees, or  like in Simhasana with the palms on the floor between the knees and the fingers pointing towards the pelvis
  2. The elbows are held straight with the torso slightly leaning forward, relax for a while by breathing normally, inhale slowly & deeply through the nose by keeping the head and the back straight, open the mouth wide and extend the tongue out to the maximum possible length,  use force to  inhale and exhale at least up to 10 breaths, this is one round the movement of the abdomen is coordinated with the breaths; abdomen  moves in while exhaling and out while inhaling
  3. The movement must be rhythmic and harmonious, gradually increase the number of  breaths per round to 25, practice 5 rounds with normal breathing in between the rounds

People suffering from stomach, intestine ulcers, hypertension must not do this practice hernia, hyperthyroidism, or chronic diarrhea must avoid doing this practice. It helps heal digestion, constipation, flatulence and low appetite issues. Swana pranayama also helps tone the muscles, nerves and blood vessels of the abdominal region, it clear the lungs of stale air and removes extra fat deposits from the abdominal region. 

Agnisar Pranayama Steps 

Agnisar Kriya Technique
  1. Stand erect with the feet wider than the shoulder width, bend the knees slightly, bend forward a bit and place the hands with palms down on the thighs  just above the knees, relax the abdominal muscles 
  2. Take a short inhalation, then make a prolonged, smooth exhalation  till the last lungs go nearly empty,  slowly pull the abdominal muscles in while exhaling till the navel appears to be touching the spine, suspend ( hold) the breath here as in Sunyaka pranayama,  holding the breath after emptying the lungs is also known as Uddiyana bandha 
  3. Now press the palms on the bent knees and drop the head down to tuck the chin into the upper edge of the sternum ( chest), this is known as Jalandhara bandha
  4. Release the abdominal muscles for a while on a short inhalation, again exhale and draw it in as in uddiyana bandha, keep  making these abdomen in and out pumping motions for about 8 – 10 times ( one round) initially, as the capacity to  hold the abdomen tight after an exhalation improves gradually  move to 20- 30 times in one round, after one round stand up erect while inhaling and breathe normally before starting the next round

Agnisar Dhauti Kriya how often?  When to do?

  • Agnisar kriya must  be done on an empty stomach, preferably after emptying the bladder and the bowels after one wakes up in the morning, there must be a gap od at least 4 hours after one has had a heavy meal before starting the practice
  • Beginners can start with 3 rounds of 10 repetitions each, which can be gradually increased to 50 repetitions as the abdominal muscles gain strength  
  • The time of holding the stomach in after an exhalation must also increase with the increase in the number of repetitions per round
  • While designing yoga sequences Agnisara dhauti kriya is best placed after the asanas and before one  does pranayamas

Agnisar Dhauti Kriya Precautions

  • Always learn agnisar kriya from a qualified teacher, and never by reading books
  • Try to hold the breath after the exhalation is complete at the glottis in the throat, this will make bending the head into Jalandhar bandha ( chin lock in the hollow of the upper chest) much easier
  • The lungs must be completely empty before suspending the breath into uddiyana bandha
  • The more one practices agnisar dhauti, easier it becomes to get into uddiyana bandha
  • If practiced during summers there is a high chance that the body heat will rise along with the blood pressure,   make sure to practice  cooling pranayamas like sheetkari or sheetali after practicing  agnisar kriya to cool the body down
  • The practice must feel relaxing and stimulating at the same time

Agnisara kriya pranayama Contraindication

Practicing Agnisara pranayama is not recommended in case these conditions are present

  • High or low blood pressure
  • Overactive thyroid
  • Recent abdominal surgery
  • Pregnancy ( more than three months)
  • During menstruation
  • Hiatal hernia
  • cardiac issues
  • Duodenal or peptic  ulcers
  • Slipped disc
  • Colitis 
  • Acidity reflux disease known as gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • In case of any intestinal, or pancreatic diseases  consult the doctor before beginning the practice of Agni Sara dhauti kriya

Agnisara Pranayama Benefits

  • Agnisara pranayama fires up the appetite and improves digestion, it is a significant technique for people looking for yoga for good appetite and healthy digestion
  • The pumping action of Agni Sara kriya provides good massage to the abdominal organs and the related muscles, this strengthens the muscles and improves the health of the abdominal organs​
  • It activates all the five prana, especially Samana which uplifts the energy levels of the body as a whole alleviating depression, and lethargy, it  a very effective technique for someone seeking to learn yoga for alleviating depression
  •  Practicing Agni Sara dhauti kriya regularly stimulates peristalsis action of the intestines which cures constipation, it promotes better absorption of the nutrients,  flushes the cells with oxygen, and aids in eliminating carbon dioxide ( especially the residual toxins in the lungs ) and other gaseous waste from the digestive tract
  • Practicing Agni Sara kriya regularly keeps the pelvic muscles toned, strengthened which prevents prolapse of the uterus, rectum, or the bladder
  • As the nervous system  becomes drained of toxins the mental faculties become sharp bringing clarity and acuity to the thought process
  • A detoxified nervous systems can now  keep the abdominal and pelvic organs innervated  more efficiently
  • The region of the body on which the Agnisara dhauti kriya works is where the Manipura chakra is located ( navel region),  the upward push provided  by uddiyana bandha  lifts  the energy of the Manipura  chakra higher into the heart chakra which induces the quality of generosity in one’s personality, one’s  sense of direction, discrimination , and expression improves  as this energy moves further up through the vishudhi  chakra and the Ajna chakra respectively, and finally to the Sahasrara chakra to help the practitioner realize the final goal of yoga  
  • As the nervous energy gets purified the prana begins to flow easily up the Sushumna nadi, the central channel through which the cosmic energy moves up for raising the conscious awareness of the being, the raised consciousness helps develop love and compassion for one’s fellow beings in one’s mind & the heart. Agnisara kriya is an important procedure which forms a part of the yoga for inducing the sense of love and compassion for fellow beings
  • Agnisara dhauti  prepares the practitioner for  performing Bhastrika pranayama and Kapalbhati kriya
  • It also prepares one for the practice of Nauli (one of the Shatkarmas) as it imparts the required strength to the abdominal muscles
  • It helps cure diabetes and also strengthens the immune system
  •  The small intestine, large intestine, pancreas, liver, kidneys, gall bladder, uterus, ovaries, adrenal glands, and the prostate gland directly benefit from practicing Agni Sara kriya on account of being located in the abdominal and pelvic regions, students who are designing the yoga program for a healthy uterus cannot afford missing out this technique 
  • As it aids in absorption fo the nutrients it is very good for people who remain malnourished  in spite of consuming nutritive food
  • It is beneficial in  treating obesity and helps slow down the aging process of the practitioner as it rejuvenates the entire body
  • Agnisara kriya helps  tighten up the abdominal and pelvic muscles as a part of postnatal care for women
  • It helps  alleviate the condition of hypoacidity as well as hyperacidity