Tummo: Fierce Lady of Yogic Heat

Talk on the Tibetan yogic practice of tummo, as part of the Buddhism & Breath Summit. See the talk, “Tummo: Fierce Lady of Yogic Heat” along with the full resource including questions for reflection and a brief bibliography on the The Jivaka Project website. The event was co-sponsored by the Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation Centre for Buddhist Studies at the University of Toronto and Jivaka.net.

Abstract: The contemplative technique of tummo (gtum mo, caṇḍālī) – literally, the “fierce lady” – is a consummate practice of Vajrayāna Tibetan Buddhist yoga. To understand this somatic yoga and breathwork practice, this presentation discusses (a) tummo in the context of a Buddhist tantric practice curriculum; (b) the philosophy and practice of inducing yogic heat and rapturous bliss described in classical Tibetan yoga manuals, including a discussion of subtle body physiology, thermogenesis, and the correlation of tummo with sexual yoga; (c) popular depictions that introduced tummo to the modern Buddhist imagination, including drying wet sheet ceremonies in Tibet and contemporary spin-offs; and (d) scientific research on the neurophysiological effects of arousal induced by tummo on core body temperature, cerebral blood flow, and cognitive correlates. The presentation concludes with reflections on working with technologies of breath in yogic Buddhism.