June 5, 2019

Rite No. 5, The Five Tibetan Rites. Heels On or Off The Floor?

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  • Rite No. 5, The Five Tibetan Rites. Heels On or Off The Floor?


You can perform the 5th Rite exactly as instructed in the original 1939 book, The Eye of Revelation (download free here), with the heels raised above the floor. 

In the second part of the movement, which is a very common yoga pose, known as Downward Dog, you can also lower your heels to the floor to increase the stretch and stability of the movement. See the images below.

It won't make any difference to the intended purpose of the Rites, which is to get the chakras spinning more rapidly so Qi (life-energy) can circulate freely throughout the body.

eye-of-revelation-upward-downward-dog
t5t-the-five-tibetan-rites- should-the-heels-touch-the-floor-during-5th-rite

This woman is very flexible! Don't expect to look like this when you begin. In yoga, this pose is known as Downward Dog.

yoga journal downward facing dog

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 the 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 can comfortably lower their heels to the floor - which increases the beneficial effects of the stretch.

However, everyone's skeleton is unique, including the size and proportion of their bones. In some people, the bones of the ankle and the foot compress as they try to lower their heels to the floor, which prevents any further movement. Once bone and bone compress, there is nowhere else to go. You can release tension in the muscles, but you can't stretch bone! These people (like me) will never be able to place their heels flat on the floor - because that is the way we were born. 

For fascinating information on compression and tension - and why some people can't do certain yoga postures the same way others can - see Paul Grilley's "Anatomy for Yoga" DVD.

Downward Dog is recommended 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," published by Snow Lion Publications - the text and the corresponding illustration instructs students "to place the heels on the floor."

Therefore I suggest you make a personal decision as to 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. 

During the 2nd part of the movement in the T5T® method, we avoid doing the posture on our tiptoes (as illustrated in The Eye of Revelation) to avoid compression of the vertebrae and discs.

rite-no-5-upward-dog-five-tibetans-t5t

Note heels pressed back to avoid compressing the lower back

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 20 years. She is one of the world's foremost experts on the Five Tibetans Rites. She has further developed the original teachings to create a safer, more complete version of the Five Tibetan Rites called T5T® (The Five Tibetans.)


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And yes it's free! We want to help you get started with these simple but life changing movements today. 

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