So this is the first ´episode´ of a few blogs about different breathing techniques as announced in last weeks´ blog!
I´ve decided to start with Tummo! Why? Well, mainly because it´s literally and figuratively speaking the ´hottest´ breathing technique in my life at the moment, since important elements of Tummo are integrated in the Wim Hof Method (which is applied in the realm of cold training).
A bit of background…
Tummo literally means the fierce goddess of heat and passion in Tibetan Buddhist tradition. This also explains why Tummo and ´inner fire´ are usually used in the same sentence. A purpose is to gain control over the body’s processes.
The teachings are based on the common belief that we as a human beings are born with free flowing energy and we waste it by worrying about different sorts of things in our daily life. So, instead of worrying Tummo meditation is practiced to concentrate and burn all those worrying thoughts in order to keep our mind and body healthy.
Tummo uses a system of visualisations and breathing techniques including ‘vase breathing’. Vase breathing involves breathing into the abdomen and then not releasing all of the air from the belly before taking another breath.
Tibetan monks practice Tummo meditation by drying wet clothes/towels placed on their bare bodies (usually in a cold environment).
Check out the video below to get an idea:
Benefits of inner fire meditation
Well, I figure that only a small minority will want to do Tummo meditation in order to dry wet towels… So then, why would you want to engage in this fascinating breathing technique? Well it´s said that it improves your concentration and memory power for one. It promotes emotional and mental balance. And, it greatly improves your ability to stay warm in cold weather.
That´s all very nice, but since the purpose of this blog is to disclose possibly interesting ideas with regard to improving our lung health, I have obviously tried to find information about the practice of Tummo in relation to lung diseases such as asthma. I did not come across specific studies as such, but I do feel confident enough to say that I think Tummo might have an interesting positive indirect effect on our lung health. How so? Well, since the inner fire breathing technique helps you to stay warm in (extremely) cold circumstances it is of value in combination with cold therapy. And because cold therapy reduces inflammation (and treating inflammation is key to managing for example asthma) Tummo can therewith prove to be of added value in the realm of alternative treatments for your lung disease.
Do try this at home – the actual method
The other day I came across the blog of somebody who studied Tummo for about 5 years at a Tibetan Buddhist centre. This guy has very clearly described the steps you ought to take when you practice Tummo Meditation.
So here we go:
1. sit in an upright and comfortable meditation posture. Visualise yourself as hollow, like a balloon. Your skin is glowing and brilliant and on the inside there is only empty space. Take a few moment to strongly establish this visualisation.
2. Visualise a ‘central channel’ about a 1cm thick from your perineum to the crown of your head and two ‘side channels’ going in through the nostrils up to the third eye or eyebrow level and then going down either side of the central channel merging at just below the navel. All the ‘channels’ are hollow like plumbing pipes. Take a moment to establish this visualisation, it does get easier and even instantaneous with practice.
3. Imagine your breath energy going down the two side channels and merging into the central channel just below the navel (about a few cm in front of the spine). Imagine a very small and very hot ball of light in the central channel and your breath ignites this fiery ball and makes it extremely hot. Now hold the breath there in that ball of heat at the navel, for 5-15 seconds (experienced yogis can hold the breath here for several minutes). WARNING: stop immediately and breath normally if you get dizzy or lightheaded.
4. As you are holding the breath inside the central channel at the small ball of heat just below the navel, draw energy up from below and down from above and lock and trap it in the ball of heat. Draw it up by activating the perineum muscle (like you are holding back from urinated), hold this muscle and lock it in. Simultaneously swallow some saliva down to get the feeling of pushing down on the ball of heat at the navel and lock it in. Experiment with this. You may wish to lock it in by drawing up from below first and then push down from above, or vice vera. Do what feels best for you to get the sense you are locking in a tremendous amount of energy in a tiny space at the navel.
5. Now release all the energy you have created – straight up through the central and bursting out the top of your head like a fountain. As the energy rushes up through the central channel it blows away any blockages and purifies your entire body mind system. You can also imagine releasing the energy into parts of your body you need to heal.
6. Repeat steps 2-6 …
They recommend trying Tummo meditation for 2-5 minutes to begin with. Do not practice for extended periods of time until you become familiar with the practise and feel confident and strong enough to do so. Needless to say that you have to be extra careful when you have a lung disease. I would recommend you talk to your doctor before you start experimenting with Tummo breathing.
Stay tuned for more info about breathing techniques!