The Five Tibetan Rites is a system of exercises reported to be more than 2,500 years old which were first publicized by Peter Kelder in a 1939 publication entitled The Eye of Revelation. In his booklet, Kelder claims that while stationed in India, British army officer Colonel Bradford (a pseudonym) heard a story about a group of lamas who had apparently discovered a “Fountain of Youth”. The “wandering natives”, as he called them, told him of old men who inexplicably became healthy, strong, and full of “vigor and virility” after entering a particular lamasery. After retiring, Kelder’s Colonel Bradford went on to discover the lamasery and lived with the lamas, where they taught him five exercises, which they called “rites”. According to the booklet, the lamas describe seven spinning, “psychic vortexes” within the body: two of these vortexes are located in the brain, one at the base of the throat, one on the right side of the body in the vicinity of the liver, one in the reproductive anatomy, and one in each knee. As we grow older, the spin rate of the vortexes diminishes, resulting in “ill-health”. However, the spin rate of these vortexes can be restored by performing the Five Rites daily, resulting in improved health. (Source: Wikipedia)
The five tibetan rites comprise five movements, to which a sixth one was later added. This last one often varies due to many personalized version of the sixth rite. Here, we will discuss the original five rites.
For beginning, three is considered an ideal number of repetitions of each movement, or rite. Then it is gradually increases till it reaches twenty one. Twenty one is considered an auspicious number for the Tibetans. The whole cycle, of the five movements, repeated twenty-one times each takes less than ten minutes in total. The entire process can be repeated two or three times over the span of the whole day easily.
Now let us learn the five movements of the five Tibetan rites step by step.
The Five Tibetans Rites- 1
Stand upright, extend your arms at shoulder level away from your body and spin clockwise (if looking at a clock face on the floor). Keep your eyes looking directly in front of you, do not focus on any one point, let your vision blur as you spin. Turn up to 21 times or until you feel unstable or dizzy. breath in and out of your stomach. When you stop spinning, breath even more deeply from your stomach until your head stops spinning and your balance returns to normal. Work your way up to 21 spins. Speed is not so important, just try to spin 21 times and stop. It is essential that the speed of the spinning is controlled, so that the body balance can be maintained easily.
The Five Tibetans Rites- 2
Lay down on your back with your arms to your side, palms up, keep your legs straight, begin your inhalation, raise your legs off the ground until as high as possible and pick your head off the ground, bending your neck with your chin falling toward your chest. Begin your exhalation and return to laying flat on the ground. Repeat up to 21 times. Breathe in while raising your legs and head and
breath out while lowering your legs and head. When starting out, bend your legs until your stomach strengthens. If your feel discomfort, place your hands (palms facing down) under your buttocks to support your lower spine. As you progress, straighten your legs and try to raise and lower them at the same speed.
The Five Tibetans Rites- 3
Kneel with your legs together, arms extended, palms of your hands on the side of your thighs, drop your chin to your chest, begin your inhalation, raise your head and lean back, move your hands to the back of your thighs and let them drop lower and support your weight, crane your head and neck backward, relax your lower spine. Begin your exhalation, start to come forward back to kneeling position with your head back up in the straight position. Repeat up to 21 times. Breathe in while going backward and breathe out while coming forward. When you start this exercise, use the weight of your head to come forward instead of forcing your chin to your chest with your muscles. When you lean back, avoid craning your neck; simply let it drop with its own weight. Eventually, you can bring your shoulder blades towards each other when you’re in the back position. Keep a steady movement while going backward and forward. Keep your eyes open to maintain balance.
The Five Tibetans Rites- 4
Sit on the floor, legs a little less than shoulder width apart, arms to your sides with hands extended flat on the ground and fingers pointed forward, drop your head toward your chest, begin your inhalation, raise your buttocks off the ground while bending your knees, shift your weight to your arms/hands and legs/feet, continue to raise your buttocks until your trunk and thighs are parallel to the ground, let your head fall back. Begin your exhalation and return to sitting position with your head dropped forward. Repeat up to 21 times. Breath in while rising off the ground and Breath out while returning back to sitting position. When you begin this exercise, just try to get from the starting to end posture. It’s easier to do it than read about it. In the beginning, you might not be used to your body weight on your wrists. Doing some wrist warm-ups before you begin can prevent discomfort.
The Five Tibetans Rites- 5
Lie down flat on the ground facing downwards with your hands supporting the body weight. Begin your inhalation, come up on your toes with weight in your arms, straighten your legs, arch your back, lean your head back, do not let any of your body touch the ground except for your toes and hands (Cobra in Yoga). Begin your exhalation, bend at the waist, bend your knees, push your buttocks up into the air, make an inverted V shape with your legs and arms straight, tuck your chin toward your chest (Downward Dog in Yoga), try to put your feet flat on the ground. Begin your next inhalation and repeat up to 21 times. Breathe in during the downward dog pose. Breathe out in the cobra pose.
After rite 5, lay flat on your stomach with your arms stretched out from side to side. Keep your chin on the ground and close your eyes. Wait until your heartbeat and breath returns to normal. Turn your head to one side and take a few deep breaths. Relax for 1 minute.
I apologise for the appalling pictures I managed to draw to help guiding the rites. I have tried my best to explain the sequence of movements, so please forgive me for the horrendous images. Hopefully the whole sequence demonstrated in the following video will help to explain the rites clearly.