Meditation has been around for thousands of years and has gained popularity in the West for the past decade or two. Hundreds of meditation techniques have been tried, with some established in pop culture.
Take the Wim Hof technique — an athlete who climbs snowy mountains in a single breath wearing only bathing shorts. Or Tibetan meditation, known as Tummo (a temperature regulation technique), can bring practitioners physical warmth despite the chilling alpine air.
But which method is better? I will present both methods, their differences and similarities, and help you decide which method to choose.
What Is Tummo?
Tummo is a Tibetan word meaning “inner heat.” In Tibetan Buddhism, it is a practice used to generate heat in the body through concentration and visualization.
Tummo is one of the six yogas of Naropa, a set of meditation practices associated with the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. It belongs to the generation stage, which focuses on developing one’s meditative experience by visualizing deities and Buddhas.
The practice of tummo involves sitting cross-legged and focusing on the subtle energy channels (nadi) in your body, as well as your breath. By doing so, you can generate heat that can be used to melt snow and ice to survive cold conditions.
Benefits of Tummo
Tibetan monks have used Tummo meditation for thousands of years to harness the power of the human mind. Not only does it has many physical benefits, but it also has mental and emotional benefits as well. The practice helps you gain control over your mind and body so that you can:
- Increase your metabolism
- Reduce stress levels
- Experience increased energy levels
- Decrease chronic pain
- Increase self-confidence and self-esteem
Techniques Used in Tummo
The practice of Tummo involves various techniques aimed at generating inner heat and promoting meditative experiences. Some of the techniques used in Tummo practice include:
- Energy channel awareness
- Mantra chanting
When practiced with discipline and guidance, these techniques are intended to awaken and harness the inner heat, facilitating spiritual progress and physical well-being within the context of Tummo practice.
What Is Wim Hof?
The Wim Hof method (developed by Wim Hof, a Dutchman) is based on breathing exercises, meditation, and cold exposure.
The practice involves deep breathing exercises to induce relaxation and increase oxygen flow to the brain. This helps the body release endorphins, relieving pain and reducing stress levels.
It is based on the idea that we can train the body to control its autonomic functions, such as heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature. By learning how to control these functions, we can also learn how to control our emotional state and even our mental capabilities.
Benefits of Wim Hof
Wim Hof’s ability to withstand extreme temperatures has been attributed to his “extreme breath training practice.” He has gained fame for teaching others his methods, which he claims can help people overcome their fears and improve their physical and mental health.
Here are some of the benefits that Wim Hof claims can be gained from practicing his breathing exercises:
- Improved immune function
- Improved digestive health
- Reduced inflammation
- Increased circulation and oxygenation of the blood vessels
- Lower heart rate and blood pressure
- Decreased anxiety and stress levels
Techniques Used in Wim Hof
As we discussed, the Wim Hof method consists of exercises combining breathing and cold exposure designed to stimulate your immune system. This is a long-term strategy for staying healthy, being productive, and having more energy so you can worry about bigger things like the state of the world today.
The Wim Hof method incorporates several techniques to achieve its claimed effects, such as:
- Breathing exercises
- Cold exposure
- Meditation and focus
- Mindset and visualization
- Gradual progression
By combining these techniques, the Wim Hof method aims to enable individuals to influence their autonomic nervous system, increase their resistance to stress, and potentially enhance their overall well-being.
Tummo vs. Wim Hof: Which Practice Is Right for You?
Is Tummo or Wim Hof better?
It’s a common question without a clear answer. There are many variables to consider when answering this question.
For example, what are your goals – fat loss, endurance, meditation? Do you need a passionate teacher who will help you every step of the way? Or would you rather have an online course that teaches you Tummo independently? Each option has benefits and drawbacks. But I’m here to help figure it out!
Here are some considerations to help make an informed decision:
1. Do you have a busy schedule? If so, then Tummo may be best for you. Because of its shorter duration and ease of practice, Tummo is a great option for those short on time.
2. Are you looking for a more complete experience? Wim Hof Method offers more than just meditation and breathing exercises; it also includes cold training and exposure therapy, which can increase your ability to handle stressful situations.
3. Do you want to train your mind and body? Wim Hof Method is designed to help you get in touch with your feelings and connect with your inner strength through breathing and movement practices. The goal is to improve your mental clarity and physical strength while cultivating compassion and empathy toward others.
Here’s a quick overview of their similarities and differences to help you choose one:
|Similarities||Both practices involve breathing techniques and meditation.||Both practices have been shown to have physical and mental health benefits.|
|Differences||Tummo is an ancient Tibetan Buddhist practice that involves visualization and yoga poses, while Wim Hof is a more recent method that involves cold exposure and specific breathing exercises.||The techniques used in Tummo and Wim Hof differ, with Tummo involving visualization and yoga poses and Wim Hof involving specific breathing exercises and cold exposure.|
|Pros||Tummo has been shown to have physical and mental health benefits, including improved immune function and reduced stress and anxiety.||Wim Hof has been shown to improve the immune system, increase energy, and reduce inflammation.|
|Cons||Tummo may be difficult for beginners and require a teacher or guide to learn properly.||The Wim Hof Method may not be suitable for everyone, especially those with certain medical conditions. Cold exposure can be dangerous if not done properly.|
Conquering the Mind Through Breath
A ton of information is available on both topics, but the most practical path is to assess your needs first. Take an honest look at your goals and how dedicated you can be to your regular practice.
Tummo and Wim Hof’s techniques are not the same. Although they are both effective methods for controlling the human body, there is enough difference between them that one cannot claim superiority over the other. Each technique was designed to accomplish different goals.
Some people will benefit more from one, and others will benefit more. One is not necessarily better than the other—it all depends on the goals of each individual. Both of these practices have great potential to improve overall health, but you should choose which ones to devote yourself to based on what purpose you seek to accomplish.
- Kozhevnikov, M., Elliott, J. M., Shephard, J. M., & Gramann, K. (2013). Neurocognitive and Somatic Components of Temperature Increases during g-Tummo Meditation: Legend and Reality. PLOS ONE, 8(3), e58244. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0058244
- Wim Hof Method. (n.d.). Meditation exercises. Wim Hof Method. https://www.wimhofmethod.com/meditation-exercises
- Buijze, G. A., De Jong, H., Kox, M., Van De Sande, M., Van Schaardenburg, D., Van Vugt, R., Popa, C. I., Pickkers, P., & Baeten, D. (2019). An add-on training program involving breathing exercises, cold exposure, and meditation attenuates inflammation and disease activity in axial spondyloarthritis – A proof of concept trial. PLOS ONE, 14(12), e0225749. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0225749