THE FIVE TIBETANS
I was first taught these five exercises in 1978 in an evening class called ESP!
The teacher emphasized their ability to strengthen the psychic muscles. Originally known as the Five Rites of Rejuvenation from a book written by Peter Kelder in 1939, they are said to open up and balance the mind/body energy system – to increase strength, energy, and mental alertness, and stem the aging process.
The story goes that Kelder had been taught five yoga movements by a retired British army officer who had learned the exercises from some Tibetan lamas in a monastery in the Himalayas.
My teacher, who was a sprightly senior citizen at the time, had learned the Five Tibetans at the Institute of Mentalphysics in Los Angeles, founded in the 1930s by Edwin Dingle, who had himself been taught by a high lama in Tibet in the 1920s.
The important thing is that they are easy to do and only take a few minutes out of your day – for enormous benefit.
Each exercise should not be repeated more than twenty-one times. You can start by doing about 3 repetitions until you have learned the movements. Then build up to 7, 10, 12 etc. until you can do 21 each per day. And as they say in yoga class – remember to breathe.
TIBETAN # 1
Stand up straight with your arms outstretched to the sides. Fingers are together; palms are open and facing downward. Holding this arm position, spin full circle in a clockwise direction. (to your right) Repeat this spin for up to 21 times without a break.
When you finish spinning, stand with your feet together and your hands on your hips. Take a full, deep breath, inhaling through your nose. Exhale through the mouth with your lips pursed in an O shape Repeat the inhale and exhale, completing two full breaths before moving on to Tibetan # 2.
It is normal to experience some dizziness at first, but this exercise actually strengthens the balance mechanism inside the inner ear. This is the same motion practiced by ecstatic whirling Dervishes, the Sufi mystics who twirl rapidly for extended periods. Just start with a few spins then built up the repetitions as your body adjusts itself to the motion. Eventually your movements will become fluid and easy, even while spinning quite rapidly. For me this feels like flying.
TIBETAN # 2
Lie on your back on a mat or rug. Your legs are fully extended, ankles flexed and touching. Arms are by your sides with the palms flat on the floor. Inhale through your nose, lift your legs a little past a ninety-degree angle, and raise your head, tucking your chin into your chest. This is all done in one smooth motion. Your toes point toward the sky; your lower back should remain flat on the ground.
Exhale through either your nose or mouth, bringing your legs and head down to the starting position – completely flat on the ground. Repeat the entire motion 21 times, inhaling as you raise your legs and head, exhaling as you bring them down.
When you are finished, stand with your feet together and hands on hips. Take 2 full deep breaths, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth, with your lips pursed in an O.
TIBETAN # 3
Kneel with the balls of your feet resting on the ground. Your knees are about 4 inches apart. Place your palms against the backs of your thighs just below the buttocks. Your spine is erect, with your chin tucked into your chest.
Inhale through the nose, arching back from the waist. Drop your head as far back as you comfortably can. Your hands will support you as you lean back. Then exhale through either the nose or mouth, as you return to the starting position. Repeat the entire motion 21 times in a steady, unbroken rhythm.
When you finish, stand with your feet together and your hands on your hips. Take 2 full deep breaths, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth, with your lips pursed in an O.
TIBETAN # 4
Sit up straight with your legs outstretched in front of you. Place the palms of your hands flat on the ground beside your hips. Positioning of the hands is very important; they must be placed exactly alongside the hips. Tuck your chin into your chest.
Inhaling through the nose, raise your hips as you bend your knees, bringing the soles of your feet flat to the ground and dropping your head all the way back. You will come into a position in which the trunk is parallel to the ground while the arms and legs are perpendicular. Exhale through either the nose or mouth as you come down to the starting position. Repeat this motion 21 times in a steady, unbroken rhythm. Do not let your feet slide. The feet should stay in the same place through this whole exercise. Also, the arms should not bend; the movement is instead accomplished by pivoting at the shoulders.
Stand when you are finished, feet together and hands on hips. Take 2 full deep breaths, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth, with you lips pursed in an O.
TIBETAN # 5
Begin this exercise by supporting yourself on the palms of your hands and the balls of your feet. Both the arms and the legs are about 2 feet apart. You head is up and back. Keeping your arms and legs straight, inhale through the nose as you raise your buttocks and tuck you chin into your chest, bringing your body up into a perfect triangle. Exhale through either your nose or mouth as you swing back down to the starting position. Except for the palms of your hands and the balls of your feet, your body remains off the ground during the entire exercise, and your arms and legs do not bend at all. Repeat the entire motion 21 times in a smooth, unbroken rhythm.
Then stand with your feet together and hands on hips. Take 2 full deep breaths, inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth, with your lips pursed in an O.
When you have finished all 5 exercises, lie down on your back and relax for several minutes. Let the breath be gentle and easy. Notice any new sensations in your body and energy field.
My personal interpretation of these exercises is that the focus is not so much on the physical body, but its energy systems – the chakras. It is more about feeling the energy flowing within and around you – s
o try focusing on the spiritual rather than the physical and see what happens.
Enjoy and Namaste!