Tummo Breathing – An Ancient Tibetan Secret To Hack Your Health

Tummo Breathing – An Ancient Tibetan Secret To Hack Your Health

The way you breathe influences your physical and mental state. What would you say if we told you that a certain breathing technique can even help you raise your body temperature and optimize your health? Today, CARE will teach you about the ancient secret of tummo breathing. Born in the mountains of Nepal by Tibetan monks who practice Buddhism, the benefits of the tummo breathing technique are scientifically proven.

Blog Author Elena Health Coach at CARE
Elena Iagovitina

Health Coach

Published in General Health
8 min read · Mar 18, 2024

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What Is Tummo Breathing?

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Tummo breathing, often referred to as “inner fire meditation” or “tummo meditation,” is an ancient breathing technique from Tibetan Buddhism that you can use to tap into your body's internal energy and biological processes. [1]

Tummo is a Tibetan word that translates to “inner fire.”

Have you ever wondered how Tibetan Buddhist monks, who only wear a red woolen cloak, can survive the freezing temperatures in the Tibetan mountains without modern clothing or heating in the temples? Likewise, mysterious tales of monks in Tibet who could dry wet sheets wrapped around their naked bodies during a Himalayan ceremony have intrigued scholars and scientists for a century. The answer to these mysteries has finally been unveiled: tummo breathing, a specific form of Tibetan meditation.

When you practice Tummo-style breathing, you engage in controlled breathing methods scientifically recognized for their ability to raise core body temperature and increase blood flow, as evidenced by studies on Tibetan monks. In fact, tummo breathing can raise the body temperature to the temperature of a mild and moderate fever. [2]

The tummo technique combines deep breathing and visualization, where you imagine a flame at your navel, growing with each breath. Research has proven that Tummo breathing can indeed positively influence the autonomic nervous system, explaining its effects on body temperature regulation and stress reduction. [1] [2]

The capacity of Tummo breathing to boost thermal energy in your body without physical exercise is a fascinating area for scientific investigation, particularly in the fields of thermogenesis and human physiology.

Tummo is not just a breathing technique to raise your body temperature; it's a holistic approach that integrates spiritual and mental disciplines that allow you to develop inner warmth and spiritual awakening within you. [3]

Even if you don’t consider yourself a yogi or Buddhism doesn’t resonate with you, you can benefit from this meditative state to light your inner fire and reap the numerous health benefits associated with this meditation technique.

But what exactly are the benefits of tummo breathing, and how do they occur?

What Are the Benefits of Tummo Breathing?

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Tummo breathing benefits are better stress resilience, improved thermoregulation, improved mental focus, and possibly increased immunity. [1] [2] [3]

We will now explain these benefits in a little more depth and look at the biological processes that allow tummo breathing to have a positive impact on our health.

  1. Better Stress Resilience:

    Tummo breathing enhances stress resilience by activating your parasympathetic nervous system, reducing cortisol levels, and increasing endorphins, thus aiding in managing acute stress and promoting long-term emotional balance. [3]

    This physiological change reduces the likelihood of stress-related health issues and contributes to a more balanced emotional state.

  2. Improved Thermoregulation:

    Through activating the sympathetic nervous system and increasing the metabolic rate, Tummo breathing enhances internal heat production, improving your body's ability to regulate temperature in various environments. [1]

    This helps in withstanding cold and contributes to overall improved bodily function and temperature regulation.

  3. Improved Mental Focus:

    Tummo breathing's intense concentration and visualization exercises enhance cognitive control and mental focus, improving neural connectivity in brain areas associated with attention.

    The practice leads to enhanced clarity of thought, better problem-solving skills, and increased mindfulness, contributing to your overall cognitive performance. [2] [3]

  4. Increased Immunity:

    A study suggests that regular Tummo breathing practice can enhance the immune response by lowering stress, reducing inflammation, and improving overall immune function. [1]

    The activation of the sympathetic nervous system, combined with improved bodily functions and homeostasis, further bolsters your body's natural defenses against pathogens.

How Does Tummo Breathing Work? — A Step-By-Step Tummo Guide

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Tummo breathing, through rhythmic, diaphragmatic, and deep inhalations and exhalations, stimulates your sympathetic nervous system, leading to increased heart rate and metabolic activity if practiced correctly. [3]

Below, CARE has summarized a step-by-step instruction for the correct practice of tummo:

  1. Find Comfort and Focus:

    Begin by settling into a comfortable position. Close your eyes gently and place your hands softly on your stomach. This posture should feel natural and relaxed.

  2. Calm Your Mind:

    Take a moment to calm your thoughts, aiming for a state of mental tranquility. Allow any external distractions to fade into the background as you center your focus inward and onto the present moment.

  3. Ignite Your Inner Flame:

    Envision a vibrant flame near your navel, inside your stomach. Imagine yourself as a hollow vessel, like a balloon, with this warm, glowing fire at its core. Maintain this vivid imagery, this psychic heat, throughout your meditation session.

  4. Inhale Deeply with Visualization:

    Now, inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, slightly arching your back. As you do this, picture your breath as fuel, intensifying the brightness and heat of your inner flame. Your chest and torso should expand as you breathe in.

  5. Exhale with Intention:

    Purse your lips as if blowing through a straw and exhale forcefully. Simultaneously, curl your spine forward, visualizing the flame's warmth dispersing throughout your body, bringing energy and vitality.

  6. Breathe In a Rhythmic Pattern:

    Repeat the above breathing pattern five times. With each inhalation, imagine the heat building more intensely and your inner heat rising. After the fifth breath, swallow gently, focusing on anchoring the breath below your diaphragm. Engage your pelvic floor muscles, creating a gentle hold between the diaphragm and the pelvic floor.

  7. Hold Your Breath and Release:

    Hold your breath for a comfortable duration, feeling the energy and heat contained within. When you're ready, exhale slowly, releasing the tension and relaxing your muscles.

  8. Repeat:

    Repeat this entire pattern a few times at your pace. Each cycle should deepen your sense of relaxation and inner warmth.

You might want to keep a few things in mind when using this step-by-step instruction on tummo breathing.

Things to Keep In Mind When Performing Tummo Breathing

CARE has curated some refined tips for your tummo breathing session to keep in mind to ensure a safe and effective Tummo breathing experience:

  • Gradual Progression: Ease into Tummo breathing, especially if you're a beginner. Start with shorter sessions and incrementally increase the duration to adapt to the technique comfortably. It should not be your goal to increase your body temperature drastically during your first try.

  • Optimal Setting: Select a tranquil, cozy spot for your practice, free from interruptions. A serene environment enhances focus and deepens your meditation.

  • Proper Posture Is Key: Adopt a comfortable yet upright sitting position. A straight spine is crucial for efficient breathing and maintaining concentration, so you should always practice tummo while sitting upright.

  • Enhanced Visualization: Central to Tummo breathing is the art of visualization. Imagine a vibrant flame at your navel, intensifying with each inhalation, to augment your focus and the efficacy of the practice.

  • Conscious Breathing Technique: Pay detailed attention to your breathing rhythm. Ensure your breaths are deep, steady, and synchronized with your visualizations for the best outcome.

  • Hydration Matters: Hydrate before and after your session. Tummo breathing is an intense practice, and staying hydrated is essential for maintaining overall balance.

  • Attune to Your Body's Signals: Be aware of your body's responses during the practice. If you encounter any discomfort or light-headedness, gently pause and return to normal breathing.

  • Avoid Excessive Strain: Given the physical intensity of Tummo breathing, it's crucial not to overexert yourself, particularly in the initial stages, to prevent adverse effects.

  • Regular Practice for Mastery: Consistency is the key to mastering Tummo breathing and reaping its full benefits. Aim to integrate it into your daily regimen for a comprehensive experience.

  • Professional Guidance for Assurance: If you have doubts about the technique or specific health considerations, seek advice from a seasoned instructor in Tummo breathing.

Bear in mind Tummo breathing transcends mere physical exercise; it's a journey that encompasses mental and spiritual exploration. Approach it with patience, respect, and an open heart for a truly enriching experience.

Maybe you already have experience with the Wim Hof method, another technique that focuses on breathing. So, how is Wim Hof breathing different from Tummo breathing?

Difference Between Tummo Breathing and Wim Hof Breathing

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The main difference between Tummo Breathing and the Wim Hof Method lies in their focus and techniques. Tummo breathing emphasizes internal heat generation and mental focus through controlled, rhythmic breathing and visualization, while Wim Hof combines rapid, deep breathing with cold exposure to enhance overall resilience and immune response. [4]

The following list highlights how each method harnesses breath to achieve different objectives, reflecting their unique origins and philosophies. [1] [2] [3] [4]


  • Wim Hof: Developed by Wim Hof, a Dutch extreme athlete.
  • Tummo: Originates from Tibetan Buddhist meditation practices.

Breathing technique

  • Wim Hof: Rapid, deep breathing, often followed by exposure to cold.
  • Tummo: Generates internal heat, enhances mental focus, and potentially boosts immunity.


  • Wim Hof: Less emphasis on visualization, more on physical sensation.
  • Tummo: Central focus on visualizing an inner flame at the navel.

Physical response

  • Wim Hof: Increases levels of epinephrine and reduces markers of inflammation.
  • Tummo: Increases core body temperature and improves thermoregulation.

Autonomic Nervous System Influence

  • Wim Hof: Activates the immune system and improves the body's response to stress and cold.
  • Tummo: Activates the sympathetic nervous system and increases metabolic heat production.

Spiritual component

  • Wim Hof: Focuses on the mind-body connection, less on traditional spiritual elements.
  • Tummo: Deeply intertwined with the spiritual and mental disciplines of Tibetan Buddhism.

Typical Practice Environment

  • Wim Hof: Often paired with cold exposure (cold showers, ice baths).
  • Tummo: Usually performed in a quiet, meditative space without environmental extremes.

How CARE Can Help You Optimize Your Health

Your health is your greatest asset. A membership with CARE enables you to stay up to date with the latest scientific discoveries and biohacking trends to optimize your health. With our regular health checkups, body composition assessments, and blood analysis you receive a comprehensive insight into your individual health status.

Your biomarkers and health data give you crucial information about potential health gaps or possibilities for optimization. Wouldn’t you optimize your health at all costs, if possible?

These present days are the time that influences how fit and healthy you will be as you grow older. Seize your health today, and take your preventative healthcare into your own hands by becoming a member of CARE!

List of References

Blog Author Elena Health Coach at CARE

Elena Iagovitina

Health Coach at CARE Zurich

About the author

Elena is an enthusiastic Health Coach and blog writer at CARE, with a passion for holistic medicine and health. Previously, Elena worked for almost five years as a coach leading retreats, workshops, and seminars. These included mind-body therapy: breath work, meditation, and massage; as well as energy force therapy: reiki, and qi gong; and third expressive therapy: movement, writing and support groups. Elena shares exciting articles on the blog, on the topic of where the alternative and traditional medicine intersect with Western Medicine. Elena is also the driving force behind the CARE community. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, traveling to remote locations and dancing. You might also see her on the lake of Zurich as a coast guard. Join her on her journey to learn more about health and discover the world of preventive medicine! Visit all articles written by Elena!