The Five Tibetan Rites of Rejuvenation have become a well-known anti-aging, health & fitness routine. Discovered in a remote Himalayan Monastery during the 1930’s by retired British Army Officer Colonel Bradford; they were introduced to the West in a book by Peter Kelder called The Eye of Revelation (Download Free Here).
This unique sequence of 5 yoga-like movements was developed by the monks to slow down aging, increase energy, calm the mind, and remain physically active and healthy well into old age. They take around 10 minutes per day to practice.
Many benefits are attributed to the Rites, such as improved energy, increased mental clarity, reduced stress, anti-aging, etc. However, due to exaggeration or oversimplification of the Rites' benefits on the internet, designed to entice buyers to purchase downloadable e-booklets - some of these claims sound rather like those of the snake medicine purveyors of the past!
The Five Tibetan Rites of Rejuvenation are genuinely beneficial and fit easily into daily life. Many hundreds of thousands of other practitioners and I would certainly never stop doing them. To find out the truth about what benefits you can realistically expect, read The Five Tibetan Rites' Benefits: The Truth Versus The Claims.
Once you have read what you are likely to achieve from practicing the Rites, the next question to ask yourself, is "What method of learning the Rites suits me the best?" The choices are:
- Learn the original method from one of the books, including The Eye of Revelation, (download free here) Ancient Secret Of The Fountain Of Youth – Books 1 & 2, and The Five Tibetans.
Note: ALL these books are essentially re-published versions of The Eye of Revelation above, and contain minor changes to technique - but remain very limited in both illustrations and instructions.
- Learn T5T - the in-depth method of learning & practicing the Rites. T5T (The Five Tibetans) focuses on correct technique, a step-by-step strength & flexibility build-up sequence, the addition of core stability to protect the lower back, and neck and natural full breathing to increase vitality. See our books, DVD, and our new Beginners Online Masterclass - Workbook & Videos.
- Learn the Rites from a qualified yoga teacher or T5T Instructor.
The following questions, points, and tips will help you decide what suits you best.
Have you ever done yoga before? What is your current state of fitness? How stiff are you? Are you overweight? Have you ever had a back injury or experienced back or neck pain? Do you have weak wrists or other muscular weaknesses?
Do You Currently Do Yoga, or Are You Reasonably Fit?
Is core stability part of your workout? Do you know how to establish and maintain neutral spine and neutral pelvis while keeping your head and neck in line with your spine?
How good is your breathing? Apart from being good at pranayama, do you know what natural, full breathing should feel like? Are all your breathing spaces able to open fully? Do you have tension in your breathing? How are your stress levels? Do you find yourself breathing rapidly in the upper chest, holding your breath, yawning or sighing?
What You Need to Know Before Beginning The Rites
Because of the Rites' historic reputation for anti-aging, you may be someone who has noticed the first signs of aging and wants to do something about it. If this is you, I do understand! You are probably highly motivated to try and ‘stop-the-clock’ and may be very susceptible to claims that this product, or that service, that will halt any physical or mental decline. If you have been largely sedentary (most Westerners are) - you will need to pursue any form of new exercise with safety and caution in mind.
In the opinion of myself and the many health practitioners I have consulted - the limited information/descriptions on how to do the Rites contained in one or two-page articles or slim little downloadable booklets is NOT the ideal way for sedentary people or those with a previous back or neck injury to learn the Rites. Peter Kelder's original book, which you can download here for free, is a great read, which I highly recommend. It tells the story of the discovery of the Rites, but it is not a good teaching aid. The instructions and illustrations are very limited, and some of the movements are performed in ways that are contradicted today for anyone but the long-term and regular yoga practitioner (and even they would probably modify the parts that compress the spine). Here's why:
As we get older, it is a natural part of life that we will experience varying degrees of degeneration of the spine, discs, and joints of the body. This includes calcification, bone spurs, arthritis, wearing down of the discs plus general wear and tear. In the original instructions contained in the booklet The Eye of Revelation, you are told to "throw your head back as far as it will go" - "allow your body to come slowly down into a 'sagging' position" and to "lean backward as far as possible". If you follow these instructions to the letter, you will compress the discs and vertebrae of the spine, which is generally contraindicated for the reasons mentioned above.
I used to teach workshops using the original version of the Rites from Peter Kelder's instructions and noticed that a small percentage of people in every class developed back or neck ache. I have since received numerous emails from people mentioning the same thing and asking for advice.
Before you panic and stop reading - it has to be said that the larger percentage of the class experienced no problems at all. However, I remained concerned about the effect of long-term practice and consulted with chiropractors, osteopaths, physiotherapists, Iyengar, Pilates & Feldenkrais practitioners to develop T5T (my abbreviation for The Five Tibetans). The result of this collaboration (T5T) is a much safer and easier way to learn and practice the Rites in both the short and the long-term. The integrity of the original movements remains intact, and the problems of the past have been eradicated – provided people follow the program as described!
It is worth remembering that the monks who developed the Rites would most likely have done these movements from a very young age. In addition, their lifestyle was much more menial than that of our modern western largely sedentary one - and I took this into account when developing T5T.
In T5T, you are taught how to prevent compression and strain, etc. You are taught how to move correctly, how to align your body, how to build a strong foundation, have control of the movement, and protect your spine. You are also taught the common problems and solutions to each move, which makes it much easier for you to practice correctly. Only the T5T method of learning the Rites teaches you this.
Most people have experienced back or neck pain at some stage in their lives. Unless they have completely rehabilitated the site of the injury through exercise and the application of various therapies - there is going to be some degree of weakness in the muscles, tendons, ligaments of the spinal column. To protect the spine, T5T has introduced the use of core stability training while you perform the Rites
Core stability means to activate the deepest core muscles closest to the spine, which stabilize and protect it during movement. Core stability muscles, when activated CORRECTLY, act like a natural corset or weight belt. Core stability is not a feature of any of the earlier version of the Rites: However, through ultrasound experiments:
"Results suggest that the central nervous system deals with stabilization of the spine by contracting the multifidus and abdominal muscles before any limb movement. In other words, when you even just think of moving - the abdominal and multifidus muscles contract. They are the first muscles to contract even before the arms and the legs.” Hodges PW; Richardson CA SOURCE: Phys Therapy 1997 Feb; 77(2):132-42; discussion 142-4
What’s Involved in Learning The Rites?
The Five Tibetan Rites are a sequence of 5 movements, each repeated 21 times each. In my version (T5T), a breathing exercise called "Energy Breathing" is carried out between each Rite to further increase vitality and maintain health. A number of clinical studies have shown that how well you breathe literally dictates your lifespan. The whole T5T routine takes around 10 mins per day on average.
Colonel Bradford and I, recommend that when you begin learning, you carry out just 3 repetitions of each Rite per day for the first week. Then you simply add just two more repetitions per week, until, by ten weeks, you are carrying out the required 21 repetitions of each Rite.
To get this into perspective, let’s do some maths! If you do your 21 repetitions per posture every day for one whole year, you will have carried out 7665 repetitions of each posture – or 38,325 for all five Rites. Can you see how very important correct alignment, posture, control, balance, and the development of core strength is? Once again, only the T5T version contains this sort of information in depth.
Now I don’t want you to get frightened about the Rites, because they are absolutely wonderful, and people from 12 to 80 + practice them all over the world. However, I do want you to benefit from the knowledge and experience I have (and share with you below), so that you can make the best choices for yourself.
Note: The information in italics below is what we teach in T5T, and is not covered in any of the original texts on The Five Rites.
Do any of the following apply to you?
* Muscle imbalances, muscle weaknesses?
Yes? T5T teaches you what to look out for and how to measure your alignment. Otherwise, all you will do is compound your imbalances, eventually leading to injury or strain.
* Poor postural habits, sitting, lying, standing, moving and slouching: Rounded shoulders, or one higher than the other, etc.?
Yes? T5T teaches you how to determine what is good posture, what is bad posture, and how to maintain good posture throughout all stages of the movements. Another very important point - T5T teaches you how NOT to perform the movements.
* Wrist weakness or inflexibility? Do you find it a bit of a struggle to unscrew jars/bottles, etc.?
Yes? T5T teaches you how to build up your wrist strength & flexibility - and what adaptation or modification you can use in the meantime.
* Are you overweight?
Yes? T5T teaches you specific adaptations and steps to make the postures achievable and to avoid any potential for strain & injury.
* Largely sedentary? Are you at a point where you think you had better 'do' something now before it is too late?
Yes? T5T teaches you the Rites in a step-by-step progression, with alternatives to those who need additional support and strength development. You will gain strength from the inside out rather than being what Susie Lapin, Physiotherapist calls "a soft-centered-chocolate."
* There is no 'One size fits all' body.
Some people have long arms, some short arms, some longer legs. All these variations have an impact on the way the Rites need to be performed. T5T teaches you what to do and how to know when you have found your center of gravity, where your movement is most stable and pleasurable to perform.
* What are the common problems and the solutions to any problems?
For example, what do you do if you can't kneel on the floor? Or what solutions are there if you experience dizziness or nausea in the very early stages of learning the Rites? This information is comprehensively covered by T5T from observing the experiences of literally hundreds of students.
* How good is your breathing?
As we age, our breathing capacity reduces. Like any muscle, unless you use it, you lose it. In one study, researchers measured the forced exhalation rate of people in nursing homes and found they could accurately predict which people would live the longest.
In the original texts on The Five Tibetan Rites, it merely says, "Take a few deep breaths". Most people take breathing for granted and have actually no idea how to breathe correctly – "I'm alive, aren’t I"?
Telling people with limited knowledge how to breathe deeply is not sufficient. They need to learn how to breathe from the belly, ribs, back, sides, collarbones. Most people think breathing is an up and down motion only, which is incorrect. T5T's breathing method "Energy Breathing" once learned, helps expand your breathing capacity, slow down your breathing rate, and improve vitality in your entire body and mind.
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