The EUY present these recommendations; however, we strongly advise against conducting this practice on your own. Before embarking on any experiment, it is essential to ensure that your supervisor is adequately trained and knowledgeable in the relevant field.
Recommendations for tummo
by Anne Laurençon
Ice baths are gaining popularity, partly due to media coverage of the Wim Hof method. However, engaging in these practices without a well-understood approach can lead to injuries, with hypothermia being the most severe risk. To prevent accidents, it is crucial to strictly adhere to safety rules. Setting objectives related to cold exposure should only be done after gaining personal knowledge and mastering contact with the cold to ensure safety and avoid potential harm.
I draw inspiration from the teachings of Maurice Daubard, whom I have followed for about ten years. Maurice began swimming in the Allier River in 1956, at a time when ice cubes were floating in the water. At that time, he was facing desperation, attempting to combat tuberculosis, which was deemed incurable. His daily swims had a positive impact on his health, and he continued exposing himself to the cold until the final months of his life, often going outside undressed.
Indeed, Maurice Daubard’s teachings extended beyond the practice of immersing oneself in ice-cold water for potential physiological benefits. His wisdom encompassed a much broader understanding of human beings, with a strong emphasis on the psychology of individuals and the interconnectedness between our inner and outer worlds. He started teaching the practice of voluntary exposure to the cold, naming it Tummo yoga, in 1978. Initially, he conducted these teachings in Switzerland and later in Italy. Maurice derived some practices from Tibetan Tummo, hence he referred to them as Tibetan-inspired yoga. He emphasized the importance of connecting with something greater than oneself, something beyond our individual selves, during practices carried out in a natural setting so as to be able to connect with our deepest nature.
Before moving on to the recommendations, the first and essential preparation is to gradually integrate cold exposure into your daily routine. When autumn arrives, don’t throw yourself into your jumpers, consider taking a daily walk in shorts and a T-shirt. Or meditate in the morning on your balcony as bare as possible. These are just a few examples that Maurice suggested to help everyone make this daily encounter with the climate their own. There are as many formulas as there are lifestyles. It’s up to you to find the conditions that allow you to spend an hour a day with the elements, embracing the cold and the nature that surrounds us.
Exposure to the cold can be easily achieved through contact with air or water. I won’t go into the derivative techniques used by caregivers of top-level sportsmen and women, which involve exposure to pressurised gases for rapid body cooling. Instead, opt for exposure to the natural elements and venture out in all weather conditions. Maurice recommended a maximum of one hour a day in all weathers. Let the wind, rain or snow caress you. Whatever contact you choose, above all, you need to establish an inner state. Recollection and humility are the feelings you need to develop before coming into contact with extreme temperatures. Mentally preparing yourself is crucial to cope with the discomfort caused by the intense cold biting your skin.
Study the place where you think you will settle to meditate or to commune with the elements. Each place has its peculiarities and we are not all close to a natural space. You will need to have a clear idea of how long it takes to get back to a familiar place safely. It is also important to establish solid benchmarks so that you don’t stray on your return. These practices can indeed generate euphoric states that blur the consciousness hence the need to have beforehand to mark the path if it is not familiar to you. It is best to be accompanied by someone who will help you in case of difficulties.
NO HOT WATER on the body after exposure to cold
Perhaps you will be tempted by the contact of hot water on the skin: NO, you risk a serious vascular problem. In fact, cold water will look very hot if you have just plunged into ice water. You will need to warm up gradually.
Choose clothes that are easy to put on and close: no zip, no laces. Layer on top to cover your skin like onion peels. Your numb fingers won’t be able to attach sophisticated clothing.
Bring a thermos of hot water (herbal tea, tea, whatever you like) to warm up from the inside. Plan a simple system to open.
DURATION OF EXPOSURE
If you choose the cold water bath, stay in the water for 3 to 5 min, which triggers physiological responses. Allow 10 min maximum: it is rare that one is naturally able to stay long in ice water from the first bath. Be careful, you can find comfort in these extreme conditions and easily forget yourself until you exceed the chosen time limit. The price to pay is then severe!
The impact of too long exposure on our energy reserves will be very difficult to manage. Above all, do not try to beat any record, and rather listen to the physiological signs that settle in gradually. From one day to the next, fatigue and stress can change your ability to cope with the cold. Be attentive to your inner signals: Maurice recommended to be calm and attentive during baths and sitting meditations.
In conclusion, I want to emphasize that these activities are very demanding. We need all our strengths and a full capacity for concentration to address them. Overexposure, or a miscalculation of risk, leads us very quickly to feel that our physical strength is diminishing and to lose all lucidity. So no underestimation under penalty of putting oneself in danger or at least not getting any benefit from these practices.
Approach them with serenity and relaxation. It is imperative to control the situation: to welcome the present moment, yes, but without experiencing unexpected situations. Plan your outings the best way you can.