Monday, April 29, 2013

Introducing the Concept of Agni to your Yoga Class


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By: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed

“Agni” is a Sanskrit term that means fire. It also refers to the Hindu God, Agni, who is one of the most important of all Hindu deities. In fact, Agni is actually the very first word of the first hymn of the ancient Indian scripture, the Rig Veda. This is one of the foundational texts of Yogic philosophy. Agni is said to be the messenger and transporter, if you will, of the sacrifices of human beings made to the Gods and Goddesses, particularly during fire ceremonies. He is the very essence and fire that enlivens and imbues the sacrifices we make with power, energy and “shakti.”

As Yoga practitioners and instructors, the term “agni” is loosely used to refer to a really challenging sequence of Yoga asanas that leave you drenched in sweat! A Yoga class that has a lot of agni or fire will leave you not only drenched in sweat, but also light, invigorated and sattvic. The Sanskrit term “sattvic” refers to one of the three underlying qualities of energy of all material existence known as the gunas. According to Hindu belief, it is said that the energetic field of possibility, known in Quantum Physics as the Zero Point Field, has no qualities prior to solidifying into physical existence. When the energy of Brahman, God or the Great Void manifests on the material plane, each object is comprised of various energetic qualities or gunas. These gunas are tamas, rajas and sattva. 

Tamas refers to the qualities of denseness, heaviness and inertia. Rajas refers to the qualities of fire, movement and energy; the quintessential elements of agni. The sattvic guna is illuminated with lightness, purity and goodness. Tamas is often experienced as low energy, lack of motivation, heaviness, tension, and even depression. Many Yoga students and teachers begin practicing Yoga in order to lighten and enliven their bodies and minds. This lightening or release of darkness and inertia is accomplished by stoking the inner fire or agni through a regular, challenging practice of Yoga poses, breathing exercises and meditation techniques. 



These ancient Yogic practices help to infuse the body and mind with clarity and expansive well-being. One of the most effective ways of moving from a state of inertia and heaviness towards a light, sattvic state, is by increasing the transforming energy of agni within our own beings. Yoga asanas that are strung together through the breath in a continuous dance-like flow are sure to dislodge tamas and increase agni through the energy and movement of the rajasic dosha. By engaging in a regular Yoga practice or teaching a challenging Yoga class that is filled with movement and heat, you will be offering your students the experience of a sattvic state, filled with lightness, peace and purity. 

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4 comments:

David said...

Sounds like an interesting class to say the least. "Drenched in sweat" is always a good thing.

Param Yoga said...

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yoga teacher training said...

Informative and brief explanation of the term "Agni" and how it is connected with Yoga..
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parvezbdjsr said...

A Yoga class that has a lot of agni or fire will leave you not only drenched in sweat, but also light, invigorated and sattvic. Thank you Virginia Iversen for writing this nice article.