Should The Heels Of The Feet Touch The Floor During The 5th Rites of The Five Tibetans?
It's up to you, really! You can perform it exactly as instructed (heels raised above the floor) in the original book The Eye of Revelation - written in 1939 about the discovery of the monks - or you can lower the heels to the floor for the reasons mentioned below. It won't make any difference to the intended purpose of the Rites, which is to get the chakras spinning more rapidly so life-energy (Qi, prana, etc.) can circulate freely throughout the body.
Rite No 5, is made up of two parts. Downward Dog as illustrated by the model above (upside- down V shape) and a variation of Upward Dog as illustrated below.
Many yoga postures are derived from observing the movement of animals. Rite No 5 is a very common yoga posture known as Downward Dog or Adho Mukha Svanasana in Sanskrit. It resembles a dog stretching after a nap.
In today's terms, having your heels elevated off the floor is a classic beginner's version of Downward Dog. Beginners' leg muscles are often very tight, and many would not be able to lower their heels to the floor without overstraining. Over time as muscles stretch, most people are able to lower their heels to the floor comfortably, which increases the beneficial effects of the stretch.
However, everyone is built individually, including the size and proportion of their bones. In some people the bones of the ankle and the foot compress, preventing any further movement. They will never be able to place their heels flat on the floor (I am one of them) - because that is the way they were born. Once bone and bone compress, there is nowhere else to go. You can release tension in the muscles, but you can't stretch bone! For fascinating information on compression and tension - and why some people can't do certain yoga postures the same way as others - see Paul Grilley's "Anatomy for Yoga" DVD.
Downward Dog is recommended for:
- for energizing the body
- Stretching the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands
- Strengthening the arms and legs
Yoga Journal describes this 'Deepening of The Pose' as follows:
To increase the stretch in the backs of your legs, lift slightly up onto the balls of your feet, pulling your heels a half-inch or so away from the floor. Then draw your inner groins deep into the pelvis, lifting actively from the inner heels. Finally, from the height of the groins, lengthen the heels back onto the floor, moving the outer heels faster than the inner.
A precedent for having the heels touch the floor can be found in the ancient 8th Century Tibetan Yantra Yoga as taught by the Master Chogyal Namkhai Norbu. On page 174 of his book Yantra Yoga - The Tibetan Yoga of Movement - instructs students to place their heels on the floor.
Therefore I suggest you make a personal decision about whether you want to stick to the pure original or 'deepen the stretch' as we do in the T5T® version of The Five Tibetan Rites.
Click links to Download
© This work is the intellectual property of its author and is fully copyrighted. It may not be copied or republished in any medium (including but not limited to electronic and print media) without the express permission of the author. All rights are reserved.