Tummo or (“inner fire”) is a form of tantric meditation that originated in Tibet. It literally means “fierce women”. Experts in this practice have shown the capacity to increase their core body temperature to a moderate fever which can have health benefits such as reduced stress, improved focus and physical health. The practitioners use a breathing technique called “the vase” and expand their bellies to take the shape of a pot. This is combined with visualizing an internal fire rising from the belly button to through the head while tensing muscles.
A 2013 clinical study monitored 10 Tibetan meditators (7 female) from the local nunneries and monasteries. Each person was monitored with an EEG and two temperature sensors. One was placed in the armpit to record core temperature and another on the left fifth finger for skin temperature. The study is broken into four sections:
- BFB – Baseline forceful breath
- BGB – Baseline gentle breath
- MFB – Meditation Forceful Breath
- MGB – Meditation Gentle Breath
The increase in temperature that occurs with a mindful forceful breath (MFB) is most significant in this case for participant #3.
After the core temperature had stabilized over a 10 minute periods with the sensor placed under the arm a reset period was used to establish a baseline. After the burn in the results of two participants can be seen here with as much a 1 degree celsius temperature jump in less than five minutes after the baseline was established.
The alpha brain wave power significantly increased for participants when the forced breath plus visualization were combined. Using only a baseline forced breath (no visualization) resulted in lower strength alpha waves.