Tummo breathing is a technique used within Tibetan Buddhism practices, in which a rhythmic breathing technique is used combined with visualization to achieve a meditative state. Tummo is Tibetan for “to get hotter” or “to get angry” and its name comes from the yogic belief that anger was one of the most powerful emotions for building inner heat.
Practicing Tummo Breathing is said to enable the meditator to increase their body temperature, so much so, that there are reports of Tibetan monks who are experts in this method of breathing, in being able to dry a wet towel wrapped around their bodies just from this increase in body temperature.
The breathing technique (described below) is combined with the visualization of a fire within the body to bring about this remarkable increase in temperature. As with most other types of meditation and breathing techniques, tummo breathing is also a useful technique in controlling stress and anxiety, which is why we thought it might be interesting to The Stressless Mind readers.
As with any type of meditation, there are many different techniques you can use to engage your tummo energy, but practicing tummo breath is widely considered to be an excellent way to start your journey into meditation or spiritual exploration.
In fact, the practice of tummo breathing itself, as explained in this article, is considered to be a highly effective form of spiritual practice because the breath is considered to be a “gateway” (or bridge) between this life and the next life as well as a pathway for inner transformation and psychic awakening.
What Is Tummo Breathing?
Rather than meditating or practicing yoga to enter into a deep state of relaxation and blissful rest like other types of meditation, tummo (or Tibetan style) meditation specifically involves rhythmic and sometimes forceful breathing that works with psychic energy in order to expand your consciousness.
This is done through an intense combination of mind control, breathing control, and physical exertion that works to energize the body, usually followed by a period of meditative calm to let the energy permeate your mind and body.
The main purpose of tummo breathing is to awaken your inner fire – this can then translate into controlling your body temperature, which is why this technique (or similar) is often used in the Wim Hof Method.
Tummo breathing has its origins in Tibet, which can get very cold, so it’s no surprise really that Tibetan monks had to come up with a novel way of warming up their bodies, controlling their temperatures, and ultimately finding inner peace.
Tummo Breathing Techniques
Tummo breathing techniques can vary slightly, but the basics are fairly straightforward. Here’s how to try Tummo breathing yourself:
Begin by sitting in a comfortable position – you can use the typical cross legged, yoga lotus position if that is comfortable for you. It’s important to clear stagnant energy from the lungs by forcefully exhaling before you begin your tummo breathing session. Once you’re comfortable and ready follow these steps:
- Put the palms of your hands together in front of you and rub them together vigorously.
- This should warm up your hands. Once your hands are warm, put your left hand on your navel, and then your right hand on top of it. Your hands will stay in this position for the rest of the session.
- Begin your first tummo breathing sequence: take a deep breath in while pulling your shoulders back and letting your rib cage expand.
- As you inhale, visualize a fire in your belly – see the fire grow as you feed it oxygen from your inhalation.
- As you exhale loudly and forcefully, drop your shoulders forward.
- Repeat this sequence of inhaling and exhaling 3 or 4 times.
- Take a few seconds break in which you will switch to gentle breathing.
- Begin the second sequence by again inhaling deeply while visualizing the fire in your body.
- This time, hold your breath for 2 or 3 seconds while keeping your shoulders square.
- Let your shoulders relax as you forcefully exhale and push out your abdomen.
- Repeat the inhale-exhale sequence 2 or 3 more times.
- Again, switch back to gentle breathing for a few seconds.
- Repeat the sequence 5 times.
- Before your final exhalation, try to hold your breath for 2 seconds, then exhale slowly.
Experienced tummo breathers will often work up to holding their breath for longer periods in the sequence. While holding their breath and visualizing the fire within, some people will begin to experience a sensation of heat in various parts of the body or feel an extremely hot type of energy or “voltage” building up within their body. If you achieve this state, here is more of what you can expect:
You may feel a burning sensation in your head, arms, and shoulders, which is believed by many practitioners to be a toxic accumulation of jealousy and anger acting as a drain on the nervous system. Both of these are considered to be the root of psychic energy in the body.
As you continue to hold your tummo breath, you can expect to experience a very uncomfortable sensation of heat that intensifies the longer you hold it. Individual experiences will vary, however, this is all part of the process of practicing tummo breathing.
Usually, you are advised to keep working at it until certain physical manifestations occur so that you can truly understand how tummo breathing works. This might include sweating profusely, feeling dizzy, or even becoming nauseous, but all of these point to the existence of tummo energy in your body.
Most of these sensations occur because tummo breathing practitioners are attempting to multiply their normal body heat by inhaling more energy than they need. This is the same way in which food is processed in the body, but with tummo breathing, you are trying to increase your body heat rather than provide nourishment.
Tummo techniques are very similar to other meditative practices, the only difference being you are attempting to consciously bring more energy into your body through enhanced respiration.
This means that the increased heat generated in tummo breathing works without you having to expend any sort of bodily effort beyond simply sitting in a comfortable position while enjoying your practice.
Tummo Breathing Benefits
There are several benefits that result from practicing tummo breathing including increased energy, mental clarity, improved immune system function, enhanced sense of well-being, and improved interpersonal relationships. Not only can you expect to feel more energetic after sitting for a while, but tummo breathing is also believed to have an effect on your emotional state.
After practicing tummo breathing for a time you will begin to feel less depressed and anxious and will even notice improvements in your overall outlook on life. Of course, some people may experience headaches while meditating with this technique so it is advised not to practice it if you suffer from high blood pressure or headaches.
It is also believed that tummo breathing is a good way to clear toxins from the body that have been stagnating in your energy channels. When toxins are released from the body through this process, they are purified and then re-absorbed in order to create a state of self-healing and mental balance.
When you stop practicing tummo breathing, your consciousness will completely emerge from its altered state and you will feel refreshed and grounded, which is why many people choose to practice this technique before going to work or when they wake up in the morning.
Tummo Breathing Techniques For Beginners
The easiest way for beginners to start practicing tummo breathing is by learning the vase (or lotus) position as mentioned above. For those who aren’t familiar with yoga, this position involves sitting down with your legs crossed and your hands resting on your knees. When you meditate in this position you will be trying to block out external distractions and cut off any mental chatter that might be going on within your head.
The vase position helps you to focus your attention on your breathing and the rhythmic process of inhaling and exhaling. In this way, it is a great way to start practicing tummo breathing. You can also put your tongue to the roof of your mouth, but this is usually only done during advanced sessions to help you achieve a higher state of consciousness.
Once you have mastered the technique of tummo breathing, you can start looking at other ways to combine it with yoga or meditation or even just sit in one position for a while. The techniques below contain some basic information on both classical and modern practices that have been used by modern practitioners who practice tummo breathing at least once a day.
1. Classical Tummo Breathing
In the classical yoga style of tummo breathing, you lie down with your entire body curled up into a fetal position. Many people find it difficult to do this, but if you do you will be able to concentrate on breathing and blocking out any outside distractions. Throughout this process, you will need to ensure that your stomach is completely flat so that it doesn’t press on your diaphragm and restrict air intake.
When you start this tummo breathing practice, you should inhale and exhale completely. It is important to take in as much air as possible and only exhale when your abdomen and chest feel compressed and there’s no space left to take in any more air. You will find that by doing this, your body will begin to heat up very quickly.
At this point, you should try to imagine how it would feel to be in a fire or a dream where something was burning intensely. While imagining such a scenario, continue inhaling deep breaths until you reach a state of medium hypnosis where sensory perceptions are heightened.
This technique will allow you to reach the highest state of consciousness possible. Once you begin feeling hot or sweating heavily, you need to stop because it means that your body has already reached its limit. It is important to remember that tummo breathing should only be employed in moderation because too much heat can actually cause your heart rate to drop.
2. Modern Tummo Breathing
The modern technique of tummo breathing is very similar to vase breathing, but instead of sitting with crossed legs, practitioners are recommended to sit in a cross-legged position while resting their hands on their knees or in their laps. This breathing exercise should also be performed in complete silence so it may be helpful to use headphones or earplugs to cut down on outside distractions.
To begin, practitioners should start out by breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth as this will help you to relax your limbs and focus your attention on using your breath as a way of clearing away mental clutter from the body. As you watch the natural process of inhalation and exhalation, begin concentrating on a single point that can anchor your attention.
It is also a good idea to keep a piece of paper next to you that has a list of things written down that you want to accomplish during your session. This will help you to focus on your goals and to keep them in mind when your train of thought starts to stray.
In addition to the visualization techniques mentioned above, many practitioners also recommend using a mantra in order to create a rhythm in your breathing. Mantras are helpful because they can help you achieve a meditative state more quickly, but there are a few things that must be remembered when it comes to their use.
When you start meditating with a mantra, it is important that there is no other sound going on around you so that you can focus completely on the chanting of the mantra and not be distracted by outside noises. Furthermore, you should only repeat the mantra in the language that you are most comfortable speaking and understanding.
The reason behind this is that repeating a mantra in another language may make it harder for your brain to process the information. Instead, try avoiding foreign languages and sticking with your native tongue because it will allow you to focus more fully on the process of breathing and chanting the mantra.
3.Tibetan Tummo Breathing
Some experts claim that the earliest teachings about tummo breathing came from India and were brought over to Tibet by Buddhist monks who had learned them while traveling through Tibet during their exile from India. In fact, the original Tibetan name for this method of breathing is shan-tsal which translates as “the secret of the sky”.
In this practice, practitioners sit in a cross-legged position and lean forward to allow their chest to press against their thighs. Since this method involves a lot of bending and crossing the legs, it is a great way to open up your hips and give you a chance to benefit from the deep abdominal breathing that tummo breathing encourages.
While practicing this type of breathing, you should focus on inhaling and exhaling deeply and completely without holding your breath.
In addition to the techniques described above, it is also important to take note of all of the thoughts that are going through your head during this process. Chanting a mantra while you sit in a cross-legged position can help you to keep your focus on breathing while letting go of extraneous thoughts that may distract from the path of meditation.
With these three different methods for practicing tummo breathing, it is important to think about how each technique will benefit you personally. It is important to remember that the process of breathing is a very natural one for humans and is something that we all do every single day.
The way you breathe is a direct reflection of your overall state of mind and can be a major factor in helping you feel at ease, energized, or even anxious depending on how you choose to manage your breathing process.
As such, it makes sense that you should take some time to explore your personal relationship with the way you breathe and learn how to use tummo breathing as a supplemental tool for attaining meditation as well as other goals.
There are many benefits of practicing tummo breathing on a daily basis.