Agnisara dhauti is one of the dhauti (purification) practices - it falls under the six “shatkarma” in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. It means "fire purification."
Agnisara dhauti is a powerful purifier of the entire abdominal region and visceral organs - it stimulates the digestive system, improves nutrient absorption, is profoundly helpful in relieving constipation, oxygenates the cells, eliminates carbon dioxide and other gaseous wastes from the organs of digestion and elimination. It can help to prevent prolapse of the bladder, rectum and uterus. It strengthens the abdominal musculature and tonifies the entire pelvic and abdominal regions.
Mental clarity and acuity improve due to detoxification of the nerves that innervate the abdominal and pelvic regions. This practice can significantly raise energy levels and prevent depression and lethargic states of mind.
Subtle Body Benefits
Uddiyana bandha and agnisara dhauti dhauti are some of the most important practices in hatha yoga. The abdomen is the seat of power in the body and the location of manipura chakra. The abdominal lift in uddiyana bandha/agnisara dhauti transfers this powerful pranic energy to higher centres—to the heart chakra and upper extremities so that it dawns on you to lovingly give of your work and talents to the world; to vishuddhi chakra and ajna chakra, the head and neck to empower your sense of direction, leadership and discriminating wisdom - the ability to determine what to give up and what to take up; and ultimately to sahasrara chakra and the final goal beyond the realm of body and mind.
When we consciously and conscientiously perform yogic practices that support the purification of our nadis (subtle energy channels) we induce more pranic energy (shakti) to enter sushumna nadi - the central channel. This raises our “we” consciousness by raising us up out of mere “me” consciousness. Karmically, this shift to having a heightened awareness of others and their needs creates the causes for us to eventually understand and meet the needs of all beings - the career path of a Buddha or fully enlightened being.
Agnisara dhauti is only performed on a complete exhalation retention.
Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulders’ width - hands on thighs just above knees, knees slightly bent.
Exhale forcefully through the mouth, ensuring that all air has been expelled. Hold the breath out.
Push hands down on thighs, bend the head forward, drawing sternum up to chin, chin pressing into sternum - jalandhara bandha. This will induce uddiyana bandha -navel will draw in towards the spine.
Release the abdomen, letting it fall, then draw it up and in, repeat several times, pumping the belly out and in, out and in.
Repeat just a few times initially, taking care not to hold the breath out so long that you cough or gasp.
Eventually, work up to 5-30 belly pumps.
Relax the belly, stand up straight and inhale.
Breath naturally for a few cycles before repeating - do 3-5 rounds.
Tips From Deep Retreat
The best time for practice is first thing in the morning, with completely empty stomach, bladder and preferably after a bowel movement.
Precede agnisara dhauti practice with Swana Pranayama - dog panting breath:
Sit in Bhadrasana - kneeling with toes touching, knees wide - and place your hands on knees.
Relax momentarily. Begin panting like a puppy dog - open your mouth wide, stick out your tongue and breathe in and out through your mouth!
Straighten your arms and lean forward but keep your head erect.
When practicing agnisar dhauti, if you hold your breath at your glottis on the exhalation, it will be more comfortable to drop your chin toward or into the little hollow just above your sternum. This is jalandhara bandha, the chin lock.
Exhale completely, totally, absolutely!
At the end of the exhalation, begin to draw the chin in toward the sternum - this will spontaneously activate uddiyana bandha - the navel will draw in toward the spine.
The more practiced you become at uddiyana bandha, the easier agnisara dhauti will be.
My best advice for this practice is to develop a daily habit - I used to do it while the kettle was boiling, before I had anything to eat or drink.
Agnisara dhauti and uddiyana bandha are only done on an exhale retention, never after inhaling. Don’t practice agnisara dhauti if you have high or low blood pressure, overactive thyroid, abdominal surgery, heart disease, hiatal hernia, ulcers, or are pregnant or menstruating. Always learn agnisara dhauti and other yogic practices directly from a qualified teacher. Never try to learn these practices from a book.