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Title: Tummo  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Karmamudrā, Yoga, Chakra, Six Yogas of Naropa, Lung (Tibetan Buddhism)
Collection: Buddhist Practices, Tantric Practices, Tibetan Buddhist Practices, Tibetan Meditation
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Tummo (Tibetan: gtum-mo; Sanskrit: caṇḍālī) is a form of breathing, found in the Six Yogas of Naropa, Lamdre, Kalachakra and Anuyoga teachings of Tibetan Vajrayana. Tummo originally derives from Indian Vajrayana tradition, including the instruction of the Mahasiddha Krishnacarya and the Hevajra Tantra. The purpose of tummo is to gain control over body processes during the completion stage of 'highest yoga tantra' (Anuttarayoga Tantra) or Anuyoga.


  • Nomenclature, orthography and etymology 1
    • Orthography 1.1
  • Practice 2
  • Kundalini and tummo 3
  • Overview 4
    • Scientific investigation 4.1
  • See also 5
  • Notes 6
  • References 7
  • Further reading 8
  • External links 9

Nomenclature, orthography and etymology

Tummo (gTum mo in Wylie transliteration, also spelled Tumo, or Tum-mo; Sanskrit caṇḍālī) is a Tibetan word, literally meaning fierce [woman]. Tummo is a Tibetan word for inner fire.[1]


Tummo may also be rendered in English approximating its phonemic enunciation as 'Dumo'.[2]


During a deity visualization, the physical human body is visualized as completely hollow, made of light and has no internal organs. Furthermore different systems have different visualizations. In actuality, the "center channel" (dbu ma or avadhuti) is the whole arterial system, or more specifically the aorta.[3] The two "side channels" are the venous system (roma or rasanā) and the spinal column and nervous system (rkyang ma or lalanā).[4] A chakra is any place in the body where there are clusters of arteries, veins and nerves.

After familiarity in trul khor, there is the practice of tummo. In the practice of tummo, the visualization of lower ends to the three channels is primarily used to focus body awareness in the subnavel area.[5] Breath retention, mulabandha and uddiyana bandha force vāyu (wind, air) and ojas into the arterial system.[5] The heart rate slows, the karmic winds suspend and the venous blood returns less impurities into the blood stream. This leads to longevity. Ojas itself has two stores within the body—the heart and brain.[5] Thus there is the visualization of blazing and dripping.[5] When the vāyu moves very little, that is considered subtle mind. This is because the mind is inexorably linked to the winds, or even considered synonymous with the winds. Sutrayana has no comparable methods to reduce the movement of vāyu to a significant extent.

Kundalini and tummo

Miranda Shaw clarifies:

Kuṇḍalinī-yoga offered a range of techniques to harness the powerful psycho-physical energy coursing through the body... Most people simply allow the energy to churn in a cauldron of chaotic thoughts and emotions or dissipate the energy in a superficial pursuit of pleasure, but a yogi or yogini consciously accumulates and then directs it for specified purposes. This energy generates warmth as it accumulates and becomes an inner fire or inner heat (candālī) that [potentially] burns away the dross of ignorance and ego-clinging.[6]

Numerous non-buddhist tantras of the Shakta and Shaiva traditions (generally termed Hindu by westerners) speak of Kundalini, which is generally described as a coiled energy at the base of the spine,[7][8][9] at the first chakra.


Kurt Keutzer (2002) discusses the Kundalini yoga, Vajrayana, Nath Sampradaya, Mahasiddha and Milarepa:

Kundalini yoga in the Natha Sampradaya and Vajrayana in Tibetan Buddhism both take their origin from the Mahasiddhas who were active in India from the 8th century to the 12th century. Kundalini yoga practices formed the core of the teachings of a number of these Mahasiddhas and are strongly represented in both Tibetan Buddhist practices and contemporary kundalini yoga practices. Kundalini yoga was spoken of as "Candali yoga" by these Mahasiddhas and became known as gTummo rnal 'byor in Tibet. Candali yoga was a key practice of the famous Tibetan yogin Milarepa.[10]

Modern western witnesses of this practice include the adventurer Alexandra David-Néel (David-Néel, 1971), Lama Anagarika Govinda (Govinda, 1988), and anthropologist Dr. John Crook. Dr Arya (2006) in discussing the winds (Tibetan: rLung) states that historically: "The rLung practitioner (yogi) uses special colors of clothes to improve the power of the Tummo fire."[11]

Dr Arya (2006) also states:

The psychic heat Drod is produced by the space particles and the heat manifested from the friction of the wind element. This is another fundamental element as it supports and gives power to the consciousness, like the power of the fire that can launch rockets to space. The power is called medrod or 'digestion fire' in medicine and Tummo in yoga tantra. The heat (fire) sustains life and protects the body/mind. The psychic fire increases the wisdom, burns the ignorant mind of the brain and gives realization and liberation from the darkness of unawareness. That is why yoga describes Tummo as the aggressive fire which ignites from below navel, pierces the chakras one by one and reaches the sky of the crown chakra. The tummo burning arrow married with the celestial bride leads to enjoy the life of transformation of samsara. They give birth to the son of awareness from the blissful garden of Vajrayogini.[11]

Scientific investigation

A 1982 study[12] of the physiological effects of Tummo has been made by Benson and colleagues, who studied Indo-Tibetan Yogis in the Himalayas and in India in the 1980s. Conducted in Upper Dharamsala in India, it found that the subjects, three monks, exhibited the capacity to increase the temperature of their fingers and toes by as much as 8.3 °C. In a 2002 experiment reported by the Harvard Gazette,[13] conducted in Normandy, France, two monks from the Buddhist tradition wore sensors that recorded changes in heat production and metabolism. A 2013 study[14] by Kozhevnikov and colleagues showed increases in core body temperature in both expert meditators from eastern Tibet and Western non-meditators.

See also


  1. ^ Yeshe, Lama Thubten (1998). The Bliss of Inner Fire: Heart Practice of the Six Yogas of Naropa. Boston: Wisdom Publications. p. 22.  
  2. ^ Chang, G.C.C. (1993). Tibetan Yoga. New Jersey: Carol Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8065-1453-1, p.7
  3. ^ Gyatso, Janet (2004). "The Authority of Empiricism and the Empiricism of Authority: Medicine and Buddhism in Tibet on the Eve of Modernity". Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 24 (2). 
  4. ^ Gyatso, Janet (2004). "The Authority of Empiricism and the Empiricism of Authority: Medicine and Buddhism in Tibet on the Eve of Modernity". Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 24 (2). 
  5. ^ a b c d Lama Yeshe. The Bliss of Inner Fire. Wisdom Publications. 1998, pg.135-141.
  6. ^ Shaw, Miranda (1995). Passionate Enlightenment::Women in Tantric Buddhism. Princeton University Press. p. 31.  
  7. ^ Flood, Gavin. An Introduction to Hinduism. (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1996). ISBN 0-521-43878-0), p. 99.
  8. ^ Harper, Katherine Anne; Brown, Robert L. (2002). The Roots of Tantra. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press.  , p. 94
  9. ^ McDaniel, June (2004). Offering Flowers, Feeding Skulls Popular Goddess Worship in West Bengal. Oxford University Press. p. 103.  
  10. ^ Keutzer, Kurt. kundalini-faq Kundalini: Frequently Asked Questions and Selected References. Retrieved 2007-12-27.
  11. ^ a b Arya, Pasang Yonten (2009). Tibetan Tantric Yoga. Source: [1] (accessed: January 8, 2012)
  12. ^  
  13. ^ Cromie, William. "Meditation changes temperatures: Mind controls body in extreme experiments", Harvard Gazette, 2002-04-18. Retrieved on 2013-04-13.
  14. ^ Kozhevnikov, Elliot (2013). "Neurocognitive and Somatic Components of Temperature Increases during g-Tummo Meditation: Legend and Reality". PLOS ONE 8: e58244.  


  • David-Neel, Alexandra (1971) Magic and Mystery in Tibet. Dover Publications
  • Ding-E Young, John and Taylor, Eugene (1998) Meditation as a Voluntary Hypometabolic State of Biological Estivation . News in Physiological Sciences, Vol. 13, No. 3, 149-153, June 1998
  • Evans-Wentz, W. Y. Editor (2000) Tibet's Great Yogi Milarepa: A Biography from the Tibetan being the Jetsün-Kabbum or Biographical History of Jetsün-Milarepa, According to the Late Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup's English Rendering. USA:Oxford University Press
  • Govinda, Lama Anagarika (1988) Way Of White Clouds. Shambhala Publications
  • Mullin, Glen H. (2006) The Practice of the Six Yogas of Naropa, Snow Lion Publications.
  • Mullin, Glen H. (2005) The Six Yogas of Naropa: Tsongkhapa's Commentary, Snow Lion Publications.
  • Turner, Robert P.; Lukoff, David; Barnhouse, Ruth Tiffany & Lu, Francis G. (1995) Religious or Spiritual Problem. A Culturally Sensitive Diagnostic Category in the DSM-IV. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease,Vol.183, No. 7 435-444
  • Yeshe, Lama Thubten (1995) The Bliss of Inner Fire: Heart Practice of the Six Yogas of Naropa, Wisdom Publications.

Further reading

  • Mullin, Glen H. (2006) The Practice of the Six Yogas of Naropa, Snow Lion Publications.
  • Mullin, Glen H. (2005) The Six Yogas of Naropa: Tsongkhapa's Commentary, Snow Lion Publications.
  • Yeshe, Lama Thubten (1995) The Bliss of Inner Fire: Heart Practice of the Six Yogas of Naropa, Wisdom Publications.

External links

  • Harvard University Gazette - Meditation Changes Temperature
  • Chapter 5: The Art of Gtum-Mo or Heat Yoga, Esoteric Teachings of the Tibetan Tantra, by C.A. Musés, (1961), at
  • Literature from the Tibetan Tradition Relevant to Six Yogas of Naropa Practitioners - An Annotated Bibliography and Selected Excerpts
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