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I have heard, and seen in TV, that many gurus do meditation in the Himalayas, without wearing any garments.

An example is Tummo which is a meditation method from Tibetan Buddhism.

It's been claimed that Tummo is:

a form of Tibetan Buddhist yoga that preserves body temperatures through excessive production of internal heat despite the body’s exposure to extremely cold mountain climates.

Tummo in Practice Image, via Wikipedia, is from Spain, but demonstrates the claim.

Now I cannot understand, how do they manage to do this when the temperature is below freezing. If you ask them they would speak about spiritualism. But scientifically is it possible? Do they survive because they know some unknown trick or technique which helps them keep warm?

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@Mistu4u: off topic :) but now I understand what you were asking more clearly –  nico Nov 26 '12 at 8:15
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@Mistu4u : "But scientifically is it possible?" What does that sentence mean? Science is about making experiments to verify claims. Those yoga people do spend the time up there. They do the experiment. –  Christian Jan 20 '13 at 16:30
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I think [religion] is not an appropriate tag for this question. –  Dheeraj V.S. Jan 21 '13 at 17:27
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@Christian: They did the experiment? So where's the data?! (yes it still could technically be a personal experiment, but really, it's not relevant to this without data for us to use) –  NeuroFuzzy Jan 22 '13 at 0:32
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@Mistu4u : Basically the experiment of them going out and doing that yoga. –  Christian Jan 22 '13 at 1:01
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1 Answer 1

There seem to be a two studies that tested the ability of practioners of that method and it found that they can substantially influence their body temperature.

Benson et al 1982). Body temperature changes during the practice of g Tum-mo (heat) yoga. Nature, 295, 234-236. : We report here that in a study performed there in February 1981, we found that these subjects exhibit the capacity to increase the temperature of their fingers and toes by as much as 8.3°

The second study:

Cromie 2002: In a monastery in northern India, thinly clad Tibetan monks sat quietly in a room where the temperature was a chilly 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Using a yoga technique known as g Tum-mo, they entered a state of deep meditation. Other monks soaked 3-by-6-foot sheets in cold water (49 degrees) and placed them over the meditators' shoulders. For untrained people, such frigid wrappings would produce uncontrolled shivering.

If body temperatures continue to drop under these conditions, death can result. But it was not long before steam began rising from the sheets. As a result of body heat produced by the monks during meditation, the sheets dried in about an hour.

I personally don't find it surprising that trained monks can produce a lot of heat during meditation. I personally have been able to produce enough warmth during meditation to feel warm without in a room with an open window during winter. At the same time I did freeze with clothes. I didn't even have to do anything to intentionally raise my body temperature. At the time I had less than 250 hours of practice. You don't need any mysterious secrets to produce heat during mediation.

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"For untrained people, such frigid wrappings would produce uncontrolled shivering." Would have? So they didn't have a simple control? Sigh. –  Oddthinking Jan 22 '13 at 3:22
    
Just out of curiosity, you said heat produces if somebody meditates. So why or how does the heat produce? Is it due to less usage of fats etc. that keeps our body warm? –  Mistu4u Jan 22 '13 at 5:10
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@Mistu4u : (1) There are different ways to meditate, and I'm not claiming that every one leads to heat generation. The one I did comes my interpreation of a book from an Aikido teacher called Kôichi Tóhei. (2) There no straightforward way to measure how heat gets generated. I would guess that it's thermogenin based heat production but I'm not aware of specific research into the mechanism. Maybe take a look at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brown_adipose_tissue –  Christian Jan 22 '13 at 14:27
    
Very anecdotal: I did a bit of autogenic training which is probably somewhat similar to some meditation techniques. One of the first things one learns is imagining that your limbs are warm. They do get warm as a result after some training. To me it was explained that this is caused by muscles around(?) veins relaxing, leading to the veins expanding and letting more blood flowing through them thus warming the limps. Never checked how plausible that explanation is though. –  pandita Jun 14 at 3:49
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