Many readers have been curious about the Tibetan Five Rites ever since I mentioned it as a simple way to get re-energised in one of my articles.
So here’s the gist of it.
The Five Rites are simple, yoga-based exercises that were published in a book by American author Peter Kelder in the 1930s. He had no idea his masterpiece, Eye Of Revelation: The Original Five Rites of Rejuvenation, would be much sought after and followed by millions worldwide.
It outlines how the Rites were brought from a monastery in the Himalayas to the United States. In the book, Kelder’s friend, a 60-something retired British Army colonel by the name of Bradford, decided to track down persistent rumours of a “Fountain of Youth” recipe that he heard about while stationed in India.
He returned four years later, completely transformed, and appeared to look no more than 35.
He claimed that these rites were all that were needed to slow down the ageing process and told Kelder about it.
Kelder then wrote the book, and according to him, Bradford’s stay in the monastery transformed him from a stooped, old gentleman with a cane, to a tall and straight youthful-looking man in “the prime of his life”.
He wrote: “I would like to make it clearly understood that these are not physical culture exercises at all. They are only performed a few times a day; so few that they could not possibly be of any value as physical culture movements.
“What the Rites actually do is this: They start the seven vortexes spinning at a normal rate of speed; at the speed which is normal for, say, a young, robust, strong, virile person of 25 years of age.”
These vortexes of energy, known as chakras or wheels of energy, have been mapped out in yogic literature for thousands of years.
These energy centres are the primary energetic interface between the individual and the larger universe. It is believed that when these energy centres are functioning properly, health and spiritual evolution will result – when the chakras are aligned, the body is tuned well.
A slow vortex causes that part of the body to deteriorate, while a faster one causes nervousness, anxiety and exhaustion. Abnormal vortexes produce abnormal health, deterioration and old age.
The Rites claim to normalise the speed of the spinning vortexes by keeping them spinning at the same rate and working in harmony.
Although the Rites have circulated amongst yogis for decades, sceptics say that Tibetans have never recognised them as being authentic Tibetan practices.
Among the benefits the Rites are believed to bring include: normalising hormonal imbalances; improving digestion; increasing energy; weight control; calmness; better sleep; less stress; mental clarity; lessening symptoms of menstruation and menopause; helping with depression; and developing core and arm strength. Some also claim to see a glow in their faces.
These five exercises can be practised by anyone, regardless of ability and age. All you need is 10 minutes a day to activate and balance the body’s energy points.
When performing the exercises, the main emphasis should be on breath synchronisation and flow, rather than on speed and number of repetitions. Ultimately, you want to build up to 21 repetitions of each Rite. I’m unsure why it is 21, but apparently, the Tibetans believe it is a mystical number. Anything more than 21 reverses the effect and is detrimental.
Start by performing one to three repetitions of each Rite. Do not be overly ambitious, and pay attention to the breathing pattern and what your body is telling you.
Do not strain or force your body into positions that causes pain as that could indicate a possible injury. A little soreness is perfectly fine, but you should start out slow enough not to have any physical hindrances the following day.
As in all forms of holistic exercises, the best times to perform these Rites are during sunrise and sunset, though I’d advise you to do it when your body is warm and limber.
I do it in the evenings or use it as a warm-up before commencing a workout. I’ve been performing them without fail for a few months now, and besides the physiological improvements, I also see a major difference in my fitness level – specifically, endurance.
It’s not necessary to do all five Rites, as you’ll still gain some benefit from doing only one.
For example, if you have a shoulder or wrist problem, then you won’t be able to do Rites three, four and five. So focus on doing the first two.
More importantly, follow the sequence correctly in ascending order – don’t start with number three, then follow with number two and five. The spinning should always come first.
The Rites are a great way to keep in shape when you have absolutely no time for a full workout. You’ll begin seeing results after one week of performing it consecutively.
However, you may feel dizzy, nauseated or exhausted the first few sessions. This is perfectly normal as it signifies the chakras are misaligned. Some people call this the detoxifying period, but after a few sessions, your body adjusts and the symptoms disappear.
The first rule to remember before commencing these exercises is to breathe deeply using the diaphragm, inhaling and exhaling through the nose (except for the last Rite).
When you cannot do anymore, stop. Instead of resuming after a pause, move on to the next Rite. The pattern and rhythm of breathing has to be continuous throughout each Rite and the flow should not be broken.
The writer is a certified fitness trainer who tries to battle gravity and continues to dance, but longs for some bulk and flesh in the right places. For further information, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader’s own medical care. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.
This involves spinning on the spot, clockwise. Spinning stimulates the body’s energy systems and awakens the chakras.
Stand with arms extended to the sides at shoulder level, palms facing down. Focus on a point in front, at eye level, and start spinning. Breathe evenly.
It’s only natural to feel dizzy, so stop when you feel it’s too much. Stand still or lie down, and take deep breaths to allow the dizziness to subside.
This is a core exercise, or as I learnt in primary school, the equivalent of angkat kaki.
Lie on your back with your arms at the side. Lift your legs and head off the floor at the same time as you inhale, and exhale as your legs and head return to the floor.
If your abdominal muscles are weak, bend your knees, and as you get stronger, straighten them.
If all those leg raises start to put pressure on your lower back, put your arms underneath your buttocks to support your spine.
If, like me, you have a long neck and it starts to strain, put your hands behind your head to support the neck while you perform the exercise. The arm position is not as important as the breath and movement.
This Rite is similar to the camel position in yoga.
Kneel on the floor, with knees slightly separated, hands below your buttocks to support your back, and tuck your chin towards the chest.
As you inhale, raise your head and lean back as far as you can go, relax the neck (avoid overstretching) and squeeze the glute (buttock) muscles to further protect your back.
Exhale as you bring your head and chin back towards your chest.
Most people have no problems doing 21 of these. If you have a knee problem, modify the exercise by sitting on a chair. Position the buttocks in the middle of the chair, place your arms on the upper butt, and begin.
On the muscular level, this Rite works your shoulders and triceps, although most beginners find it taxing on the wrists. Consider warming up your wrists by flicking your hands or doing some wrist rolls before you begin.
Sit with your legs extended in front, about a foot apart, and palms flat on the floor at the side of your hips, fingers pointing forward. Keep your back straight.
As you inhale, raise your hips off the floor while bending your knees until your trunk and thighs are parallel to the floor, i.e. the tabletop position. Tilt the head back, but don’t strain the neck.
Exhale as you return to the starting position. The arms and heels should be held firmly in one place throughout the exercise.
This is the only Rite where you inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. It bears resemblance to the Upward and Downward Dog in yoga.
Begin on all fours (quadruped position), palms flat on the floor, fingers pointing forward, and lift your knees off the floor, straightening your legs so that you’re in an inverted V position. Tuck your chin into the chest and press your heels onto the ground as much as possible. Inhale.
Exhale as you lower yourself by sagging or arching your back. Keep your chest open throughout and don’t allow the knees to touch the floor. Return to the initial position.
After you’ve performed all five Rites, lie down for a few minutes to relax and slow your pulse down. Then continue with your day.