June 5, 2019

How To Breathe While Practicing The Five Tibetan Rites

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In T5T, we breathe in all the way up into the posture, and then we breathe out all the way down into the second part of the movement.

There are NO instructions for breathing given when practicing The Five Rites (movements themselves) in either the original 1939 or 1946 versions of The Eye of Revelation published by Peter Kelder.  It is only in later books by other publishers (including myself), that breathing is expanded upon.

There are two exceptions 

  • The 6th Rite, is a breathing exercise
  • On page 20, when asked if anything else goes with the Five Rites, Kelder writes, "stand erect with hands on hips between the Five Rites and take one or two breaths."

I included breathing simply because it is such a vital contributor to our overall health, energy, and well-being. 

Breathing is very significant during the 5 Tibetan Rites and also in your life. 

Breathing is so significant. It supplies life-giving energy (prana, chi) as well as oxygen to our bodies & removes wastes.

Most significantly, a number of clinical studies have proven that how well you breathe literally dictates your lifespan! Consider this:

The average person reaches peak respiratory function and lung capacity in their mid 20's. Then they begin to lose respiratory capacity: between 10% and 27% for every decade of life! So, unless you are doing something to maintain or improve your breathing capacity, it will decline, and with it, your general health, your life expectancy, and for that matter, your spirit as well. 

Did you know that given an optimal diet, the respiratory system should be responsible for eliminating 70% of your metabolic waste? The remainder should be eliminated through defecation 3%, urination 8%, and perspiration 19%. So, if you think that going to the bathroom every day is important, or that working up a good sweat now and then is healthy, think again about the value of full free optimal breathing!

However, despite clearly being able to breathe - most people do not breathe properly or effectively. They either over breathe or under breathe – using a fraction of their lung capacity.

When you are stressed or anxious, do you find that you take shallow rapid breaths from your chest or hold your breath? Do you yawn or sigh a lot?

Did you know that the way you breathe affects how you feel? Breathing rapidly is associated with the ‘flight and fight’ response of the body, whereas breathing slowly and deeply is associated with the ‘rest and relaxation’ response of the body. By adjusting your breathing, you can directly influence your mind.


It is very important to improve your breathing. The breathing muscles, like all the muscles in your body, need to be used! The better your breathing, the healthier you will be, and the longer you will live. Animals that breathe the slowest live the longest – think of tortoises, whales, etc.

If you are taking the time to do a daily energy raising exercise routine (5 Tibetans) – it makes perfect sense to include natural full breathing with the movements. Breathing in fills your body with life-giving oxygen, and breathing out eliminates toxins and wastes.

T5T® teaches you how to breathe slower, deeper, fuller, and with less tension. Our ‘Energy Breathing Technique’ is completed three times between each Rite. Plus, we instruct you on how to breathe correctly while performing the Rites.

So How Should You Breathe While Doing The 5 Tibetan Postures?

Once you have learned how to breathe fully using your diaphragm as the principal organ of respiration - with a full expansion of your rib cage wide to the sides and into the back - as well as into the upper chest; then you can use the breath as a source of energy and expansion in your movements. And as you breathe out you help mobilize toxins and wastes out of the body.

In T5T, we breathe in all the way up into the posture, and then we breathe out all the way down into the second part of the movement. 

We also breathe only from the nose.


Rite No 5 - Downward Dog

For people who regularly practice yoga, they will find this breathing method the reverse of how they were taught to breathe while performing Downward Dog (the upside-down V shape part of the posture). In moving into Downward Dog, practitioners usually exhale instead of inhaling as we do in T5T®. In traditional yoga, it is usual to breathe in when expanding and opening the body and to breathe out when closing the body inwards as in bending or folding.

There are advantages to both methods of breathing. The reason we breathe in during the downward dog part of the posture has less to do with downward dog, but more to do with the upward dog part of the posture! Upward dog places strong demands on the muscles of the lower back and abdomen. In T5T, we use our core muscles to protect and stabilize the spine, and this is easier to achieve & maintain on an out-breath. We consider the protection of the spine absolutely crucial when doing these movements repetitively, to avoid injury or strain over both the short and the long-term. Hence our breathing method.

Most people consider the breathing in and up and breathing out and down method ideal, but if you are used to breathing out when coming into downward dog, you may wish to stick with that. Be very conscious of extending the spine and avoiding compression in upward dog.

If you want to find how well you breathe – try breathing expert & contributor to T5T®’s breathing methods; Mike White whose free online breathing tests– have been done by around 85,000 people so far.

…"Breathing slower, deeper and easier is vital for longevity, health and vitality. I believe that T5T can help most people become more conscious of their breathing. It can also release tension in their breathing, and often gradually expand their breathing capacity as well as slow their breathing rate."… Michael Grant White, www.optimalbreathing.com 

For in-depth breathing information, products and study - see Anders Anderson's Conscious Breathing. 

What About Breathing Between Each Rite?

As mentioned earlier, we (T5T®) do what we call Energy Breathing between each Rite. This is our variation of the yogic three-part breath with some adaptations and a specific focus. Our focus is to remove tension from our breathing apparatus and open our breathing spaces. The aim is to improve the natural day-to-day breath as opposed to performing a ‘breathing exercise.' 

By repeating Energy Breathing on a daily basis the effect is cumulative, and overall natural breathing is improved. Proper instruction is required to learn how to breathe fully in this way.

  • *The Framingham study These researchers were able to foretell how long a person was going to live by measuring forced exhalation breathing volume, FEV1 and hypertension. We know that much of hypertension is controlled by the way we breathe. "Long before a person becomes terminally ill, vital capacity can predict life span." William B. Kannel of Boston School of Medicine (1981)
  • University at Buffalo. Schunemann HJ, Dorn J, Grant BJB, Winkelstein W, Jr., Trevisan M. Pulmonary Function Is a Long-term Predictor of Mortality in the General Population 29-Year Follow-up of the Buffalo Health Study. Chest 2000;118 (3)656-664.
  • University of Pavia, Italy, discovered that slowing the respiratory rate to 6 breaths a minute reduces shortness of breath, improves pulmonary gas exchange and exercise performance in patients with CHF. Practicing slow and deep breathing thus can be beneficial in heart failure or in other diseases. (Source: Lancet. 1998 May 2; 351(9112):1308-11.)

Click links to Download

  1. FREE eBook, The Eye of Revelation
  2. FREE Five Tibetan Posters
  3. Learn The Five Tibetan Rites

© 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.

Carolinda Witt

Author of a number of books about The Five Tibetan Rites, including "The Illustrated Five Tibetan Rites," and her bestselling T5T Five Tibetans DVD. Carolinda has been practicing and teaching the Five Tibetan Rites for 23 years. She is one of the world's foremost experts on the Five Tibetans Rites, and has further developed the original teachings to create a safer, more in-depth method of learning the Five Tibetan Rites called T5T® (The Five Tibetans.) Adding natural full breathing and core stability to increase vitality, and strengthen the lower back and neck.

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