Despite the many excuses we can make about not exercising, the Five Tibetans is a convenient daily ritual that navigates around the most common excuses.
The Five Tibetans, also known as the Five Tibetan Rites, are a series of five continuous movements done repeatedly and reported to have started 2,500 years ago. Performing these rites on a daily basis was/is believed to restore health and thought to be a fountain of youth.
Peter Kelder wrote a book about the Five Tibetan Rites in 1939, The Eye of Revelation, after learning of a group of old men who were rumored to become inexplicably healthy and strong resulting from practicing these rites that kept their chakras tuned. Chakras are the centers of the body that regulate the flow of life force (or prana). The lamas (Tibetan or Mongolian Buddhist monks) said to teach the rites to the men described the chakras and the inherent benefit of the rites as:
“seven spinning, “psychic vortexes” within the body: two of these are 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.”
I learned of the Tibetan Rites in Nancy Gerstein’s book Guiding Yoga’s Light. She writes,
“The Five Tibetans are a series of exercises that are said to hold the key to lasting youth, health, and vitality because they keep the chakras spinning.”
Gerstein lists some specific benefits of The Tibetans including:
- Balancing hormones
- Enhancing bone mass
- Draining the lymphatic system
- Increased energy
One can do as many repetitions of each rite as their fitness level allows, up to the full 21 repetitions of each. Beginners are recommended to start with 3-5 reps a day for the first week and increase by 2 reps every week until they reach the full 21 reps. Doing 21 reps of each of the Five Tibetans takes about 20 minutes
Click here to see a demonstration of the Five Tibetans (Rite 1: Spinning, Rite 2: Leg Lift, Rite 3: Camel, Rite 4: Table Lift, and Rite 5: Updog and Downdog).
My favorite part of this series is that it is feels AMAZING and is so easy to do at least 5-6 reps of each anytime, anywhere. They don’t require special equipment or much space, nor do they require an advanced level of fitness so they are inviting to the people most likely to make excuses not to exercise.
Give them a try. Even if they aren’t the literal fountain of youth, you’re sure to feel some benefits.