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Using The Ayurvedic Agni Sara Exercise for Digestive Function - a Case Study



Agni Sara, a traditional yogic practice rooted in Hatha Yoga, is dedicated to fortifying the body's digestive fire or "agni." This technique involves rhythmic contractions and releases of abdominal muscles, akin to an internal organ massage that primarily targets the digestive system. The purported benefits include improved digestion and overall gastrointestinal health, alongside the belief that it energizes the Manipura Chakra associated with personal power and self-esteem.


Delving into the research aspect, a study enlisted 12 healthy volunteers (including 8 women) to perform the Agni Sara yoga exercise 100 times. They utilized ultrasound to examine blood flow in the superior mesenteric artery (SMA) both before and after these repetitions. The SMA supplies oxygenated blood to significant abdominal organs, including the small and large intestines. The study revealed a notable increase in SMA diameter, peak systolic and diastolic velocities, and overall blood flow post-Agni Sara exercise. Consequently, the researchers concluded that properly executed Agni Sara enhances blood flow to digestive organs, potentially leading to improved digestive function.


Traditionally, this exercise is conducted by standing with feet shoulder-width apart, slightly bending the knees, and placing hands on the thighs for support. The process includes taking a deep breath through the nose, followed by a complete exhalation through the mouth, holding the breath out with empty lungs. During this breath-holding phase, one contracts and lifts the lower abdomen inward and upward, involving a robust abdominal muscle movement. This contraction is maintained for several seconds (initially around 5 seconds, with gradual increases) while still holding the breath out. Subsequently, one releases the contraction, allowing the abdomen to relax, and finally inhales slowly and deeply through the nose. It's worth noting that traditionally, this exercise is recommended on an empty stomach or after several hours post-meal.


Study:

Minvaleev RS, Bogdanov RR, Kuznetsov AA, Bahner DP, Levitov AB. Yogic agnisara increases blood flow in the superior mesenteric artery. J Bodyw Mov Ther. 2022 Jul;31:97-101. doi: 10.1016/j.jbmt.2022.04.004. Epub 2022 Apr 7. PMID: 35710229.


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