His bare skin was draped in a blanket that had been submerged in a frigid, mountain stream. In order to pass the test, the young monk must completely dry the blanket using only his body heat. Once he accomplishes that, he will be challenged to dry two more saturated blankets. Only then will he be declared proficient in tumo.

In my book, INTO THE LAND OF SNOWS, Blake has the opportunity to watch young monks practicing tumo. Mesmerized by what he sees, Blake wants to join in. He soaks his own repa garment and begins to imitate what he sees the adepts do. But Blake hasn’t had the training necessary to accomplish the generation of body heat and he soon is in the throngs of hypothermia.

Tumo requires a lengthy training process of three years, three months, and three days. Those who complete the training and maintain it, sometimes meet in high mountain snow fields to compete against one another. The monk who melts the largest circle of snow beneath his body is declared the winner. Without any preparation, Blake is lucky to survive his attempt to dry his repa.

Like many Tantric practices, tumo requires the passing of an empowerment from master to student. The spiritual bond between these two is characterized by a telepathic link which even survives the death of the master. In this way, the master always remains available to the student. In the esoteric practice of tumo, a monk will learn to generate heat at the base chakra by practicing elaborate visualizations, advanced breath work, and body posturing. In 1982 researchers who studied yogis in India, reported that the tumo practitioners could raise the temperature of their fingers and toes by as much as 8.3°C.

Additional reading:

Occult Tibet by JH Brennan

The Bliss of Inner Fire: Heart Practice of the Six Yogas of Naropa by Lama Thubten Yeshe


Filed under Books

33 responses to “ON BODY-HEAT YOGA (TUMO)

  1. This is great. I was somewhat familiar with some of the practices in theory and from reading about it through research papers but you state it so well. Thanks for the post.

  2. Wow ! I am from India. This is the first time i have come across something like this. It must be akin to Reiki and Yogic practises. Thanks for opening a window in my mind

  3. Too tedious a process but it must be meaningful and result oriented.

  4. A Dog With Fleas

    Thank you so much for reading my blog. I have begun to read yours and was so impresssed with what I’ve read and can’t wait to catch up and read more. Thanks!!

  5. Thank you so much for liking my blog post! I came to your site and was so impressed! I loved this post – absolutely fascinating! I look forward to reading your book. Congratulations on your wonderful accomplishments! 🙂

  6. Great post and thanks for stopping by and liking my blog. What a process though, drying a blanket, not one but two with just your body heat. I am impressed! Don’t think I will give it a go anytime soon though! 🙂

  7. Hello! 🙂 You have been nominated for the Super Sweet Blogging Award. For the details, visit: http://lotustarotblossom.com/2012/08/22/super-sweet-blogging-award/

  8. Cheryl Turtlemoon

    Wonderful post – it shows how much more we can do, with the aid of belief and discipline. Thanks for liking my posts!!

  9. I love how you include this esoteric practice in your book and share it with us. Thank you!

  10. Interesting subject, on the edge of possibilities, expanding into new experiences.

  11. This is fascinating, it’s also very empowering if we think about it.

  12. Wow, the masters can raise their body temperature in their extremities by over 8 degrees?! That’s incredible! Thanks for bringing this information to our attention.

  13. It is fascinating the treasures to discover, as a member of the blogging community. Thank you, ellisnelson!

  14. I found this really interesting. Do they still think that we only use a small portion of our minds? We might be capable of much more than we ever imagined…but we’re not there yet.

  15. I’m just reading a book by Anodea Judith about the chakra’s, which is fascinating. Even more fascinating are the possibilities when you know how to utilize that power, such as with tumo (which I had never before heard of). I enjoyed reading it and I’m going to try and find one of your books in the library 🙂 Because you write so well, I have nominated you for the Sunshine Award http://dutchwitch.wordpress.com/2012/08/18/sunshine-award/ Congratulations!

  16. Sounds great! Thanks the * (like) on my last post. 😉

  17. We in the west are so arrogant about the powers of the rational and linear mind. Thanks for this post. I’ve been into native american and nature/quantum philosophy for awhile now – here’s to the power of the intuitive mind! Congratulations on your new book BTW!!, Raiana

  18. I think it’s mildly amusing that scientists strive to unlock the power of the mind, while people like martial artists, American Indians, and monks have succeeded at it for centuries….great post!

    • It’s going to take science to legitimize these practices for the west. That’s where our mind set is. Actually there is a fascinating collaboration going on between an organization called Mind & Life to study Tibetan monks meditation process and it was initiated by the Dalai Lama. The DL however doesn’t think that all life’s questions can be addressed by science. It’s a nice tool but it is limited.

      • I agree. The wonders of the mind – and the appreciation of it – can’t be unlocked by someone who is viewing it from such – foreign, if you will – perspective…

  19. I hadn’t heard of this practice before, but have known of the great ability to control the body through the mind to change breathing and heart rate etc. Very interesting post!

  20. I’ve always found this practice fascinating and daunting, and was so grateful that a group I studied with only required fire-walking… don’t think I could have survived that cold!

    • All Tantric practices are considered dangerous and require the guidance of a master. Although the two books I’ve mentioned contain specific practice instructions, I wouldn’t try them with a willy nilly attitude. Healthy respect is always advised.

      • I think from your reply that you might have thought that I was being flippant. No indeed. The disciplines I’ve been involved in were always under the guidance of a master, and I agree that healthy respect and a degree of reverence are part of the rites of passage. And these practices are only steps along the Way, and are not an end in themselves.

      • Sorry, I didn’t intend that. I just wanted to make a point. It probably would have been better made in the original post. I’m glad you want to share your experiences here.

  21. The mind is the last great frontier! This is amazing…

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