Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Five Tibetans and The Five Elements

Extract from book T5T - The Five Tibetan Exercise Rites

At the time of the development of the Five Tibetan Rites of Rejuvenation, the ancients believed that their world was composed of Five Elements; water, earth, air, fire and spirit (energy). In psychology the Five Elements are used to personify different human traits, such as the personality types categories by Carl Jung (feeling, sensing, intuiting, and thinking) and those associated with the astrological signs of the zodiac. I experimented with the concept of assigning an element to each of the Rites, and found the results to be amazing.

In each case, the physcial movement of the Rite was a metaphor for what we were trying to achieve mentally - awareness in a different aspect of life. For example the Spin takes the element energy, and the vortex that the movements create allows you to replenish your body from the larger energy all around us. The Tabletop takes the eleement earth, and its movements focus on stability, foundation and balance, giving us a solid base from which to form new ideas.

In holistic exercise it can sometimes be hard to marry the physical state with the mental state, and having a metaphor helps people enormously to align the two, and to present a clear picture of what they are working towards.

Having assigned an element and a modern name to each Rite, I then experimented with creating an affirmation that expressed the 'energy' of each movement. The result is a method of reinforcing and focusing upon the positive benefits of each Rite physically, mentally and spiritually. This has a ripple effect on every area of your life.

Rite No 1 - The Spin - I am full of energy
Rite No 2 - The Leg Raise - My mind is clear and calm
Rite No 3 - The Kneeling Backbend - I am flexible and receptive
Rite No 4 - The Tabletop - I am strong and balanced
Rite No 5 - The Pendulum - I am positive and motivated

If you wish to publish this article on your website or use the the modern name for each Rites with their associated affirmation - you may do so - provided you assign the correct copyright and accreditation exactly as shown below:

Copyright (c) 2005 Carolinda Witt - author T5T - The Five Tibetan Exercise Rites and The 10-Minute Rejuvenation Plan


Anonymous said...

Thanks, I enjoyed reading your blog.

zupanka said...

Hi Carolinda,
I absolutely agree with you. It is working like this and even more :))5 guys can show and tell you everything about the life on our earth.
Zuzana from Slovakia

Carolinda Witt said...

Hi Zuzana - We make everything so complicated, but the more simple things are - the more powerful they are! Thanks for visiting my blog - do you do the Five Tibetan Rites?

Carolinda Witt said...

Hi Joe, your picture is so funny! Perhaps he should do The Five Tibetan Rites!!!!

Anonymous said...

have been doing tft for a decade. am in my forties and live in bombay, india. i always feel so powerful and invincible. maybe, its the tft effect!! it takes no time and can be done anywhere. make sure though that you do it on an empty stomach and after a good bowel movement. now its an addiction and i do it even in hotel rooms when i travel. you can mail me at rajenmenen@hotmail.com peace!

Carolinda Witt said...

Wow! A decade! Well done Rajen. Do you do any breathing with your routine? I have found that incorporating a breathing exercise in between each Rite is even more powerful. Great for calm as well. Let me know if you want more information. All the best - Carolinda

Carolinda Witt said...

Hi Rajen,

I've got your 2 messages from the website and one on the blog which I have replied to. In a few months I will have a DVD and Distance Education Training Progrm for people who want to become T5T Instructors.

I used to teach the Rites from the original book, but found that modern sedentary Westerners were getting lower backache and neck ache. I went and consulted with physiotherapists, osteopaths, chiropractors, occupational therapists, Pilates and Feldenkrais Practitioners. I also consulted with a breathing expert from the USA who helps people restore their natural deep, easy and full breath. T5T is therefore different to the original Rites in the way different muscles are used. I have incorporated core stability which is so important to protect the spine in movement, and to give people strong lower abdominal muscles. Since then the problem with the backache and neckache has virtually disappeared. The breathing in between the Rites is making huge differences to people's energy, health, calmness and wellbeing.

Who introduced you to the Rites?

Nelson said...

Hi Carolinda,

Your experience of associating an affirmation to each of the five rites is wonderful and strikes a sensitive chord with me!

I have been doing the 5 rites for two years. Is so happens that at the time I was introduced to the 5 rites I was also using Deepak Chopra's book on Synchronicity and using the sutra that he recommends.

I noticed that while I practice the 5 rites stray thoughts come to my mind. They often have something to do with my plans for the day, or anything that happens to be affecting is my emotions negatively or positively. I wondered at a time whether I was giving the negative emotions mor power by letting them creep into my routine of the 5T.

I have practiced the sutras that I found the Chopra's book so many times that I have actually memorized then and can recite them effortlessly. There are seven of them.

So I decided that to stay positive, why not mentally recite one of them in each of the 21 breathing cycles of each of the 5T?
For example, while doing the Tabletop, I would mentally say the first sutra whole breathing in and let it sit on my mind until breathing out. For the second repetition I would say the second sutra, etc. I you see what I mean.

I do not know what added advantage I have gained from doing this, but it has at least kept the negative emotions our my thoughts during my 5T time.

I am 51. I do not feel exeptional in any way for doing the 5 T. For example, I do continue to experience my bouts with acute gout now and then although they stayed away from me for a whole year in 2004; now they are back again and I do have to take medication to keep them at bay.

But I have noticed that people are always surprised when I tell them my age. My partner has told me that my sexual drive has dramatically increased since I started to do the 5 rites.

The 5T have now become part and parcel of by morning routine, and I intend to stay with them for the rest of my life. I will try your affirmations, too and see what results I get!

I am from the Democratic Republic of Congo. I discovered the 5T while working in East Timor. I am presently in Liberia, West Africa working with an Intenational NGO. Interestingly enough, one facilitator spoke about the Five elements you mention in a workshop that I recently attended! Talk about coincidence!

My email is

Carolinda Witt said...

Hi Nelson,

Thank you for your very interesting comment. What an interesting idea to try those sutras in the way you do them! I will go and get that book and have a look at them.
With regard to negative thoughts: I have recently attended a Dr John Demartini's 'Breakthrough Workshop'. He talks about how there is no loss without gain, no gain without loss. When we have issues in life (with people, situations etc) that carry a charge (positive or negative), we are either in a state of fantasy/illusion about it, or resentful/depressed about it. The best place to be is in the middle when we are in an equilibrated (balanced) state. In this way we balance out lop-sided perceptions, open our hearts, and awaken inner vision and creativity within ourselves. Basically negative thoughts are part of the duality of our existance. We cannot have one without the other. All negative thoughts are balanced by hidden happy thoughts. To discover these, take some time and think about the benefits to these negative thoughts! There is much more to it than this, but just asking yourself this is very helpful. He believes that negative thoughts help you to become more authentic, more true to yourself, as opposed to being in a state of illusion (fantasy or misperceptions/negativity) His exercise known as the 'Quantam Collapse Process' is a brilliant tool for everyday life and achieving your highest purpose. He has a book out on this process called "The Breakthrough Experience - A Revolutionary New Approach to Personal Transformation".
On another note, I find it interesting that those of us who have done the Rites for a long time, plan to do them forever - and yet we cannot pinpoint all the reasons why. I think this is because we have forgotten how we used to feel before the Rites, and our new state of being has become normal. I guess the only way to find out is to stop for quite a while - but I'm totally uninterested in that! I had a man at one of my classes once who did them for 8 years, then he got ill and stopped doing them for 3 years. He told me that within a fairly short amount of time of not doing the Rites, he noticed a dramatic decrease in energy, mental clarity and wellbeing! He also said he would never stop again!
It's so great to talk to someone from Africa, I was born in Kenya and educated there. We left after independence and went to Durban, Johannesburg and then UK, West Indies and finally Australia!
I am currently making a DVD for a distance education, T5T (The Five Tibetans) Instructor Training Program. The training involves doing a couple of book reports, some assignments and being able to perform the steps accurately as well as demonstrate an ability to communicate and instruct the methods clearly. The practical test is done by video or with a qualified instructor. I am hoping to train thousands of teachers all over the world, so people can take care of their own health, and vitality and get more life out of their lives! Perhaps you might want to take T5T to Africa?
All the best: Carolinda

Anonymous said...

you dont mention diet anywhere. whats your take on food and nutrition? and supplements? also, is it mandatory to be barefoot, can a person wear socks or shoes?

Anonymous said...

Hi Carolinda,

I am really impressed that you were actually able to get back to me in such a short time, and to share with me very useful insights about yourself, about what I wrote and also about your plans! This is much appreciated.

I have visited Kenya several times and have been to South Africa for two short-term contracts. I went to graduate school in the UK and have transited through Brisbane and Darwin in Australia on my way to East Timor. So we might have unknowingly crossed paths at some point in time!

The seminar on Personal Transformation that you attended sounds very interesting. I have been on the “path” of seeking personal transformation and prosperity manifestation for years. I have read several books and articles, and have put time into regularly practicing one or two methods. I do agree with Dr. John Demartini’s premise that there are hidden treasures in each seemingly negative experience. I have often verified this, but only in hindsight. I would not mind trying his Quantum Collapse exercise. As it apparently helps one to deal with negative emotions, thoughts and events “in the moment” (as opposed to “in hindsight”) it should help me to take the Quantum Leap that I feel my life needs! We do not have any bookshops in Liberia. So I will be watching out in the airports where I usually buy most of my books for his book on Personal Transformation. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and insights from the workshop with me.

What you say about the fellow who practiced T5T for eight year and then stopped for three only to realize that he needed to go back to the T5T routine makes me think of something interesting with my own experience of the 5T. My first 5T months were wonderful. I could see and feel the changes in my body and in my general outlook on life. When I performed the 5T after my then usual three-hour weekend routine of jogging and calisthenics they seemed to wipe out any sign of the tiredness that I usually experienced following the exercises. I would usually get over that only after a blissful nap. I no longer needed that nap! This is the single most dramatic change that I noted, and which convinced me that there really was something to the 5T! My batteries were actually recharged! After a few months I hit a plateau and did not notice any further changes. Then I started noticing that I would become more and more aware of a nice feeling, of a quiet and gentle awareness of how my blood was pulsating and flowing throughout my body. That feeling usually came some minutes after performing the 5T. One of my close friends described me as generally being more “awake” and alert.

As a Language teacher trainer I noticed a similar phenomenon in my language trainees: after a period of steady progress, they would plateau for some time at one level and, with steady practice they would leap up a level. What is interesting is that the further up they went the more time they generally seemed to need in terms of quality practice at the right level of challenge before they could “jump up” to the next level. Would you think that people who practice the T5T follow a similar “learning” curve? It would be interesting to see if that is indeed the case.

I have actually taught T5 to some people and would welcome the opportunity to take T5T to Africa as a certified instructor!

Warm regards!


Carolinda Witt said...

Barefoot, shoes or socks?
Here are the various pros and cons of them all.
I would say definately not. I did have one lady though with painful heel spurs who had to keep her shoes on. When you spin with shoes on, it is very clunky and hard to be smooth, which increases the potential for dizziness. When doing the Leg Raise with shoes on, it makes the weight you are lifting much heavier. This increases the need for your core stability muscles to be activated to wrap around and protect your spine. (Note: The use of the core stability muscles that wrap around and protect the spine like a natural corset is not part of the original text - see my article in this blog called What Is The Difference Between T5T and The Five Tibetan Rites? for more info.)When you kneel to do the backbend it is hard to flex the toes with shoes on - same with the last (5th)Rite. The easiest Rite to do with shoes on is the 4th (Tabletop).
I understand that people want to wear socks in colder climates. If your spin is controlled and you can remain in a small area without loosing balance or wondering across the room, I would say, yes you could wear socks. Yes for Rites 2 & 3 but definately NOT for Rites 4 and 5. In Rite 4, you want to be balanced with your centre of gravity in the middle of your body. It is a pose of stability, balance and foundation. If you have socks on, there is a tendency to slip or shift more weight back onto the shoulders to compensate - and now you are no longer balanced evenly between the arms and the legs. In Rite 5, you will limit the degree of potential stretching to the back of your legs and shoulders, if you are trying to prevent yourself from slipping. The movement of your feet within the socks prevents a sense of stability and foundation.
Being barefoot gives you this wonderful connection with the ground underneath your feet. When we have a sense of being 'rooted' into the earth, we work with gravity and allow our selves to lengthen and stretch, as opposed to being somewhat compressed. Growing away from the ground allows our bodies to free and open. Throughout the whole sequence we work with the ground, the foundation of all our movements, as we stretch away from it, and become balanced upon it. Yes - do it barefoot!!
Food and Diet
If you have read the original manuscript by Peter Kelder you will have noticed the dietary suggestions made by the monks. This is somewhat similar to a method of eating called 'Food Combining'. This topic is actually too large to answer in a comment - so keep tuned - we will be writing on this very subject in the next two weeks.

Carolinda Witt said...

Hi Nelson,

Great to hear from you again.

The Dr John Demartini book I would recommend if you can't get to the seminar is "The Breakthrough Experience". He has a website too

Now, what an interesting topic you have raised about plateau's! I do know that most people who start an exercise program, do so with every intention of continuing - and with high expectations of a result. This is how they motivate themselves to begin in the first place! They go well for a while, they get their results but they still stop - why?

I believe that if you don't like the exercise you are doing, you will eventually stop. You have to fall in love with it. The more knowledge you have, the more you know why you must continue. You make a decision at a much deeper level when you decide upon a permanent lifestyle change -instead of a passing fad. When you have knowledge you have belief, and your belief has to become part of your mindset.

The universe is like a giant photocopying machine. Many people begin exercise programs, saying to themselves "I'll WAIT AND SEE if I get any results". The universe then says, "Oh, Ok - you want to wait and see - well here you are then" and dutifully delivers you more waiting and seeing - even as you jump from exercise routine to exercise routine. What they are looking for is right under their nose! All it requires is to be present NOW, not thinking of past failure or dreaming of future success. I don't know who it is that said, "Before enlightenment, peel potatoes. After enlightenment, peel potatoes", but it makes the point that it is all about awareness. Even doing the most humble task, enlightenment is possible - it is still all about awareness.

With the Five Tibetans; I have noticed that during the first few months when people are building up repetitions by just 2 per week, to get to the goal of 21 repetitions of each posture - they are in the honeymoon period - everything is great! There is something about becoming fixated on the goal and forgetting the journey. When they get to the goal, they have missed the journey and all the improvements they have attained, and then their motivation starts to slip.
That is the first so-called plateau. This is why I always encourage people to write a journal. How they were on day 1; what condition their body was in; how they felt before and after the postures; how was their emotional state before and after etc. At the end of the 10 weeks it takes to get to 21 repetitions, they will have forgotten all this, and their new daily state will be 'normal'. However, if they look back through their journal, it will remind them of just how much has changed.

Education, knowledge, belief, focused thinking, enjoying the journey not just the result and being present = those are the keys to continuing a long and happy association with the Five Rites.

Anonymous said...

Hi Carolinda,

Do you know how far the t5t are developed in the UK. I do practice since I learned them in Germany, but I wonder if I can find a place in London or elsewhere in the UK where they are offered in form of a training or as a group practice.


Andrea said...

Hi Carolinda,

I have learned the 5T 4 years ago in Germany. Now I moved to London and I wonder where I can practice them together with others or fresh up with another course.

Do you have any idea where to find courses in London or surroundings?

Thank you!

Carolinda Witt said...

Hi Leo.

It would be great to have teachers in the UK. I have been asked this quite a few times! However there is no instructor training program and the teachers that do teach the Kelder version mostly do it as part of their yoga classes as a warm up or home routine.

As you may have gathered from this blog's articles, I have taken it to a whole new level. The integrity of the original Rites remain but I have modified (in consultation with many health practitioners) certain aspects of them that were causing a pattern of lower back or neck pain. If you are to consider being a teacher, this is vital as I have found most people wanting to learn have had no background in yoga, are largely sedentary or have old injuries they want to do preventative exercise for. I have also added much more emphasis on breathing with three "Energy Breaths' included after each Rite. I worked with US breathing expert Michael Grant White on this. A number of clinical studies have shown that how well you breathe literally dictates your lifespan. Its worth knowing how to do it correctly!

I have literally just launched a distance/online instructor training program which you might be interested in. The nearest person to you currently training is in Copenhagen but I expect this to change now the program is available. Take a look at my website www.T5T.com under "Learn T5T" or copy and paste this link into your browser. http://www.t5t.com/learnT5T.cfm?Content_ID=11

This blog has lots of articles you may be interested in too.

Best wishes

Carolinda Witt said...

Hi Andrea,

What a coincidence, both you and Leo posted a comment within moments of each other! Both of you learnt the Rites in Germany and now both of you are interested in learning/teaching/sharing in the UK! If you want me to put you in contact with each other write to me at carolinda@T5T.com
Andrea, check what I said to Leo about my newly launched distance/online teacher training program.

Best wishes,


Anonymous said...

Hi there do ou know where I can find a teacher? I live in Wales, not that far from Cardiff. I have just ( 2 days ago :>) ) started practising The Rites but I'm practising from a book I got hold of in India.Any info would be great.Thanks a lot.

Carolinda Witt said...

So sorry I don't, but I do have a DVD which covers exactly what we teach in a class. Any good for you?