The Six Yogas of Naropa

This is a short introduction to the Six Yogas of Naropa in general and the practice of Tummo in particular.

Mahasiddha Naropa (A Mahasiddha is one who attained enlightenment)
Mahasiddha Naropa

"Through practicing these secret yogas, vitality and wisdom circulate throughout the body and in this very lifetime, one arises as the primordially awakened Wielder of the Vajra."

~ Naropa


The six yogas of Naropa could also be called the six yogas of Tilopa, since it was actually Naropas teacher Tilopa, who put these practices together as the set as we know it today.

Tilopa (988 – 1069) collected different transmissions of the Buddhas teachings and extracted the essence from the Tantras (listed below) and passed this knowledge, known as the six yogas, on to his disciple Naropa. Naropa taught these yogas then to Marpa, the great translator from Tibet, who brought them to the land of snow, as Tibet is often called. Milarepa became his main lineage holder and undoubtedly the most famous Yogi of tibetan buddhism. His journey from a black magic sorcerer and murderer, to an enlightend being in one lifetime is famous throughout the world. Milarepas main practice was Tummo.

Gampopa became his student and through him this lineage spread to several students, who established different schools. Some of them are still alive today and thus these teachings have been brought down through the centurys, up until the present day.

There are also other lineages of the six yogas, like that of Naropas consort Niguma for example.

Overview & Origin:

The six yogas are: Inner Heat (tibetan: Tummo, Sanskrit: chandali = meaning: fierce feminine), Illusory Body, Clear Light, Phowa, Forceful Projection & Bardo Yoga. (Some traditions have dropped out the Forceful Projecion Yoga and made Dream Yoga, which originally is a part of Illusory Body, a separate Yoga, to have a total of six yogas).

There are many other ways to count these yogas (two yogas of Naropa, ten yogas of Naropa etc., according to how one is counting/ summarising). However the structure given above seems to be the most common that is known today.

These yogas (practices) come from three sources; the following buddhist Tantras:

Tummo comes from the Chakrasmavara and Hevajra Tantra (even though these are two sources of Tantras, they are counted as one, since their Tummo systems are identical)

Illusory Body and Clear Light come from the Guhjasamaya Tantra ( as well as Bardo Yoga, since it is, just as Dream Yoga, a part of Illusory Body practice)

and Phowa, as well as Forceful Projection come from the Four Seats Tantra (sanskrit: Shri Chaturphita Tantra)

The Six Yogas:

Every yoga has complex visualisation techniques and applications. What follows is a brief description and overview of the different practices.

Tummo (Inner Heat):

Tibets great Yogi Milarepa

Meditation on the essence of mind is good.

But for immediate results nothing compares with the yoga of inner fire.“

~ Milarepa

In the six