Five Tibetan Rites
Other names: Five Tibetans, T5T, The Five Rites of Rejuvenation, Fountain of Youth
Photo of Maggie Anderson taken by Maggie Anderson
The Five Tibetans Rites is an ancient Tibetan practice known as the Fountain of Youth and is reportedly 2,500 years old. (Click on the image to the right to see larger in a higher resolution.)
I practice the Five Tibetans every morning. It just feels so good! The Five Rites emphasize “a continuous sequence of movement” (Sanskrit: Vinyasa).
“The five Tibetans are a unique sequence of yoga poses reputed to be the key to longevity. According to legend, the sequence was created by Tibetan monks in a Himalayan monastery and then brought into the world by British Army Colonel Bradford. The colonel was amazed by the monks’ vitality and superior health. They credited their religious observances, simple diet and the five Tibetans.” ~ Naturalnews.com
“The Five Rites speed up the spinning of the chakras, coordinate their spin so they are in complete harmony, distribute pure prana energy to the endocrine system, and in turn to all organs and processes in the body. This is one of the major requirements for vibrant health, rejuvenation and youthfulness. This program is often described as a modified yoga program. Simply put, yoga is a science that unites the body, mind and spirit. Today this is often called Mind/ Body Healing. The author of the book believes that yoga was brought to Tibet from India in the 11th or 12th century and that Tibetan monks over time developed modified these exercises and developed an effective program of exercises that western society now calls the “Five Tibetan Rites”. The rugged mountainous conditions these monks live in may well account for their particular emphasis on vigor. Many of the yoga exercises and practices being taught in the western world today are very new. The “Five Tibetan Rites” are exactly what the ancient Tibetans developed over many centuries of time. Therefore it’s very important to do the “Five Tibetan Rites” exactly as they are presented without altering the form or sequence to achieve some of the benefits accrued to these “Rites”.”
~ Mary Kurus, www.mkprojects.com
Directions on how to come into this sequence:
Please, also, click on the image above to follow along visually how to come into this pose. For full text directions read below. Also, click on the individual pose links for a deeper look and direction into each pose:
To receive the fullest benefits of the Five Tibetans, it is recommended that we practice 6 days a week and do 3-21 rounds for each of the 5 Rites. Preferably practiced in the morning prior to breakfast, if not accessible anytime throughout the day will do. Skipping more than one day a week will diminish the benefits.
Do only what you feel comfortable doing. That may be only one of each exercise for the first week. Build up to two of each exercise the second week, three of each exercise the third week, etc. or at a faster pace only if your body does not hurt when you do these exercises.
21 is the maximum of each exercise you should ever do. If you want to enhance your program, do the exercises at a faster pace, but do not do more than 21 of each exercise each day. Doing more than 21 repetitions of each exercise in any day will affect your chakras negatively and can create imbalances in your body.
CAUTION: Spinning and stretching through the following exercises can aggravate certain health conditions such as any type of heart problem, multiple sclerosis, Parkinsons’s Disease, severe arthritis of the spine, uncontrolled high blood pressure, a hyperthyroid condition, or vertigo. Problems may also be caused if you are taking drugs that cause dizziness. Please consult your physician prior to beginning these exercises if you have any difficult health issues or if you have any other concerns.
RITE #1 – Spinning
To begin, stand erect with arms outstretched horizontal to the floor, palms facing down. Your arms should be in line with your shoulders. Spin around clockwise until you become slightly dizzy. Gradually increase number of spins from 3 spins to 21 spins.Inhale and exhale deeply as you do the spins.
RITE #2 – Leg Raises
Begin in lying flat on the floor, face up. Fully extend your arms along your sides and place the palms of your hands against the floor, keeping fingers close together. Breathe in, then on your exhale raise your head off the floor tucking your chin into your chest. Neck is relaxed throughout. Simultaneously, feet flexed, lift your legs, knees straight, into a vertical position. Press your lower back into the mat. (If this isn’t feeling accessible, take your palms and place them under your hip bones to allow for better lower back alignment.) Press the navel towards the spine. If possible, extend the legs over the body towards your head. Do your best not let the knees bend. Then, inhale, slowly lower the legs and head to the floor, always keeping the knees straight. Allow the muscles to relax a moment, and repeat.
RITE #3 – Camel
Kneel on the floor with knees hip distance apart and the body erect. Hip bones remain over the knees the entire time. Place your hands on your lower back (hands on the back of pelvis, bases of palms on the tops of buttocks, fingers pointing down) or the backs of your thigh muscles. Have your toes curled under pressing into the toes as you come into this pose. Incline the head and neck forward, tucking your chin in against your chest. We begin this pose by inclining/dropping the head and neck forward, tucking your chin in against your chest and then head comes up chin parallel to floor. Next, inhale, allow the head to flow backward as you open the heart more and more open, shoulder blades pressing against your back ribs. Keep pressing hips forward so that hip bones remain over the knees. Allow the neck to elongate and go slightly backward, arching the spine. As you arch, you will brace your arms and hands against the lower back or thighs for support. If your neck feels strained keep it lifted, chin near sternum. After the arching return your body to an erect position and begin the rite all over again.
RITE #4 – Dandasana to Reverse Table or Reverse Plank
Sit down on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you with your legs together or walking distance apart in Dandasana/Staff pose. Ankles flexed, pressing through the heels. Press hands palms down into the mat beside your hips. Elongate the spine tall as you inhale. Then tuck the chin forward towards the chest. Feet are about walking distance apart. Bend your knees, placing your feet flat on the floor. Heels are at least a foot away from your tailbone. Place hands 4-6 inches behind your hips, palms down, fingers pointing towards your feet. Now, pressing into your hands and feet, inhale and lift your hips up as high as they will go for you today, straightening the arms. Allow your head to drop back without compressing the neck. If this is uncomfortable you can keep the head slightly lifted. Press shoulder blades against your back torso to support the lift of your chest. Pause for a moment, tense every muscle in your body.If you’ve built strength, instead of coming into Reverse Table you can move into Reverse Plank from Dandasana pose. So instead of bending your knees, you will keep your legs straight, point your feet and lift the hips up nice and high, allowing the head to slowly drop back to where it is comfortable. Then allowing the muscles to relax, on an exhale, lower back down into the original Dandasana/Staff pose. Rest before repeating this Rite.
RITE #5 – Updog to Downdog
Lie down with your face down to the floor. You will be supported by the hands palms down against the floor and the toes curled under in the flexed position. Throughout this Rite, the hands and feet should be kept straight. With hands under your shoulders, slide hands back by the lower ribcage. Inhale, press head, neck and chest up to be in Updog position. Arms are perpendicular to the floor, and the spine arched. Elongate the neck with a slight arch upward without compressing the neck. Picture an orange behind the neck so that you don’t squeeze the orange, just a slight elongated arch in the neck. Exhale, bend at the hips, lift hips up, bring the body up into an inverted “V”, Downdog. At the same time, bring the chin forward, slightly tucked against chest. Remember the orange for the front of the neck here as well. Flow back and forth from Updog to Downdog for the number of rounds you are doing for the Five Tibetans today.
When not to do this sequence or to modify/Contraindications:
Contraindications and modifications for each individual pose within the Five Tibetan Rites sequence can be found on their individual pose pages (as linked above). Spinning and stretching through the following exercises can aggravate certain health conditions such as any type of heart problem, multiple sclerosis, Parkinsons’s Disease, severe arthritis of the spine, uncontrolled high blood pressure, a hyperthyroid condition, or vertigo. Problems may also be caused if you are taking drugs that cause dizziness. Please consult your physician prior to beginning these exercises if you have any difficult health issues or if you have any other concerns.
Check out my calendar for group yoga classes dates and time.