Thursday, September 07, 2006

Learning The Five Tibetans from a Book

Books from most recent:

(a) T5T: The Five Tibetan Exercise Rites, (Penguin) & b) The 10-Minute Rejuvenation Plan (Random House) by Carolinda Witt. A modern 'manual' with core stability and breathing published 2006 & 2007 (204 photos, 176 pages)- having originally learnt and taught from the books above, I became very aware of their limitations as well as their benefits. I consulted with the health practitioners mentioned in (b) above. We 'took apart' each posture and found ways to keep the integrity intact, whilst eliminating the elements that could create injury. Core stability was added to protect the spine, and a step-by-step process to build strength from the inside out. Lots and lots of photographs of 'how to do each posture' are included, as well as 'how NOT to do each posture' - and all the common problems and solutions are included. A number of clinical studies have proven that how well you breathe can literally dictate your lifespan. Methods for natural full, deep, slow breathing is included in depth, and practised between each Rite. As the ancients understood the world in 5 elements, an element has been assigned to each Rite, to increase their metaphorical power. See previous post on this blog titled 'What is the difference between T5T and the Five Tibetan Rites' for further information.

(b) The Five Tibetans, by Christopher Kilham. Kilham is a yoga teacher whose popular book has helped increase knowledge about the Rites. It was published in 1994 (14 photos, 84 pages) and gives a brief outline of the original story of the discovery of the Rites. True to the original text, his brief descriptions and photographs are similar to those of the original author, Peter Kelder. He also provides additional information, regarding the human energy system, kundalini, the chakras, breathing and meditation. Same as (b) above with regard to the postures.

(c) Ancient Secret of The Fountain of Youth, by Peter Kelder. The updated version published in 1985 (18 photos, 105 pages)- updated and re-written by the same author as the original story, which includes an extra chapter on the 6th Rite previously omitted. The monks advise celibacy to practice the 6th Rite, so is only of use to those who are abstaining from sex. The text and the photographs are limited, and do not adequately convey the flowing movement of the Rites, nor do they tell you what NOT to do which is just as important. Some of the postures are also performed in a manner which (in the opinion of the physiotherapist, osteopaths, chiropractors, occupational health instructor, breathing expert, Feldenkrais and Pilates and other yoga teachers I have consulted) have the potential to cause lower back and neck strain/injury - in those with no training in the correct way of performing each movement - and those who are unfit - (most modern sedentary Westerners).

(d) The Eye of Revelation, by Peter Kelder. The original story published in 1939 (9 drawings, 30 pages) - tells the story of how Colonel Bradford discovered the monks who taught him the 'secret' of their youthfullness - and brings this knowledge back to the West. Good to read to learn the history of the Rites, but is very simplistic in terms of learning the postures

Here is a comment I received from my website (and my answer) which raises an interesting point.

Hi SON. This is for you to follow up with Carolinda and if you have further interest in undergoing this VERY USEFUL system and that takes less than 25 mins of your time but rejuvenates body-mind and soul. I am sure it will be convenient for you to visit a T5T centre; there is no substitute than to learn it from the exponent and to be a direct disciple. My personal experience tells me that SELFHELP BOOKS/CD's/DVD's are of very little help or frankly NO HELP at all. The technique of physically doing any exercise incuding the proper breathing is both a science as well as an art and the books etc. are compendium of information for reference but ONLY AFTER HAVING LEARNT IT IN THE PHYSICAL PRESENCE OF THE MASTER. This is, in my considered openion, a very fine art and if done inconjunction with PRANAYAM ( again a set of five breathing techniques) completes and does not need any thing else for perfectly heathy living and what I cal l"LIFE LIVED". You may continue with your GYM also, ift hat is a must - but all this should be done judiously and in consultation with your master and trainer.Take care and greetings...............DAD

Hi there!

Thanks for forwarding me your letter from your father. I'm glad he approves of the system, I certainly do!

Regarding his comments about learning from books etc - I would have to agree that in an ideal situation it is of course better to learn directly from a reputable and knowledgeable teacher, and then use the book as a source of ongoing information. However, this isn't always possible, and all yoga is good yoga - certainly better than no yoga at all! The key of course is the awareness and consciousness that it is practiced along with the yoga. That is a whole other subject.

I believe that the books on the Rites including mine, introduce a whole new group of people who would never attend a yoga class, due to poor self image or false expectations about it being religeous or having to be a vegetarian etc. Having taught so many people, I know that this is the case. Then there are others who can't afford the classes. The Rites are these people's introduction to a whole new world!

I believe the Rites make people better people - more powerful, self disciplined, less emotionally volatile and more conscious. The more people who do them the better - it all contributes to a better, more peaceful world.

I am reminded of the ancient masters who did not have books or other teachers to learn from, who developed these movements in response to their inner guidance and self-healing. In the same way, it is entirely possible for someone who has learnt from books/CD's etc to gain degrees of self-awareness that is generated from within themselves.

Regretably, we only have the original manuscript regarding the Rites, and no Tibetan Lama to teach us. Without the books, this wonderful system would have totally disappeared from our world - too great a loss!

Books have replaced the oral traditions of the past - they are people's desire to record the knowledge and wisdom they have discovered for the use of future generations. It is a noble desire.

The knowledge contained within books has been considered so dangerous in the past, that several rulers have tried to burn and destroy them.I think we have to read and have access to knowledge so that we can take it to new levels. The world cannot stay still!

Best regards,Carolinda

If you wish to publish this article for your website - you may do so, provided you assign the correct copyright and accreditation exactly as shown below:

Copyright (c) 2006 Carolinda Witt - author T5T - The Five Tibetan Exercise Rites (Penguin) and The 10-Minute Rejuvenation Plan (Random House)


Anonymous said...

learning from books is fine. thats why books are written. it depends on the book and how much you can absorb as a reader and learner. even authors of these books are learning all the time.

Carolinda Witt said...

Well said!

Imagine where we would be without books? No records of the words of Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, let alone Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Zen Tzu, Confucius and so on!

Anonymous said...

are these the only books on the five rites?? there are thousands of yoga books and just three books on the rites?? wow..we are privileged.

Carolinda Witt said...

They are all I have been able to find. If you do a search yourself on the internet you will come up with the same names.

There are translations in other countries, but essentially from what I can establish they are all from the original source - the author Peter Kelder - who learnt about the monks from Colonel Bradford.

If you do a search on the internet it can appear that there are more books available. However upon closer inspection, most of these are websites offering an e-version copy of the original manuscript by Peter Kelder which was published in the late 1930's. According to the publisher of the Ancient Secret of the Fountain of Youth - Book 2 published in 1999, they say that Peter Kelder is still alive. Copyright expires 50 years after the author's death, so you have to wonder how long these copied versions will be available!

It is highly questionable how many of the purveyors of these copies have any actual teaching practice of the Rites. From the experience of us teaching the Rites using the T5T (The Five Tibetans & Energy Breathing Method) it takes around 6 hours to teach the Rites in a way that makes them safe/achievable for modern sedentary Westerners. This slim volume does not offer any modifications, adaptations or a progressive build up of strength and flexibility. It also does not visually depict the actual flowing up into one part of the posture and down into the other part of the posture. The great thing about it though, is the way the story is told. It is a good book to read to learn about the history of the monks and Colonel Bradford, but is not so good at actually teaching you how to do the Rites - although many people have learnt them this way!

It is important to establish what you want to get out of the Rites before selecting which book to use. If your desire is to have a daily ritual that you can do to keep yourself healthy, happy, calm, strong and flexible perhaps for the rest of your life - it is worth doing it right from the start.

I would be very interested to learn about any other books - so please let me know if you hear of any.

Anonymous said...

whats your fitness regimen? in addition to the 5 rites do you do anything else, does your family do them too?

Carolinda Witt said...

I walk my dogs am and pm - around 45 mins per day. I also walk to the shops and back - a round trip of about another 45 mins, every chance I get, say at least twice a week. I do the Rites every day in the morning. That's it!

My eldest daughter does them everyday too, and is training to be a Registered T5T Instructor. The other two don't (one lives overseas)and neither does my partner. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink!

How about you?

Anonymous said...

i have always been athletic. fancied muyself as bionic. my problem is i go overboard. for example, the first time i tried the 5 rites i could do any number i wanted. didnt start with three and then proceed to five and so on as normal people do. i started with 50 and brought it down to 21. i think it is my attitude. have fallen from hills hundreds of feet and nearly drowned in the sea. docs gave up but i survived. but all that was in my twenties and thirties. now in my forties i am more mature and sensible. i eat very little, take ayur and homeo supplements, drink loads of water, walk a mile every day and do the 5 rites every single day. i live with huge stress and every type of disease in the air. so i need to take great care. i believe modern man eats too much. actually, unless we do serious physical labour we need very little. my everyday food bill is around one dollar! add another dollar for supplements and maybe some wine. so 60 dollars a month is all!! truly yogic i think.
i have tried all sorts of things but i feel the 5 rites done properly suits my body and mind the best. easy, convenient, fast. followed by shavasan. i live in a city of 20 million people. so you can well imagine the pressure on time and space. my new interest is cellular yoga. i am learning. i also feel a yogic life is a life of freedom. true liberation comes from the liberation from the seduction of shopping malls. for me white is the colour of purity and freedom, and the sun is divinity. i was born on a full moon, on the birthday of the buddha! if you respect yourself, you begin to respect all life..plants, animals and last of all, but sadly, human beings who are hell bent on destroying the planet. whew, enough of me!!

Carolinda Witt said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Carolinda Witt said...

My goodness - a dollar a day for food! What do you eat for a dollar? I wish it cost that much here in Sydney!. Where do you live?

I enjoyed your tale of starting with 50 repetitions of the Rites, that's funny! I'll have to tell that to some of my students who are hell bent on getting to 21 repetitions in an afternoon! Did you notice any difference by the way? It's interesting that you have kept doing them. What are the benefits you get out of them and how long have you been doing them?

Have you seen Al Gore's film, "An Inconvenient Truth" - giving the real facts about global warming? It's very good and is beginning to wake those who are determined to remain asleep! He talks about how we have been deliberately confused by contradictory research, when in fact out of a 10% section he found all to be in agreement - that it IS happening - and we can do something about it.

Keep on spinning!

Anonymous said...

a dollar is a lot of money in the developing world. in india, for example, about 600 million people live on a dollar a day, all inclusive. i am, of course, not recommending that. it is a pathetic existence.

i feel very strong and powerful and full of hope after the 5 rites. good reasons to keep on with them. better than going to the gym or doing 500 press ups. its not difficult at all. i am surprised that people find it difficult.

the planet is in trouble. but i think it is also inevitable. there are beautiful, self sustaining and experimental commnities all over the world but they are tiny islands in the sea of chaos. have you travelled to the 'developing' world???

Carolinda Witt said...

I plan to be in India in February. My daughter will be in Mumbai or Goa at that time.

The only 'developing' world (if I have read your meaning correctly) that I have seen is China. The contrast between Hong Kong and the mainland of China is incredible.

I was born in Kenya, went to school there and even swam for Kenya! I left Africa with my family when I was 16 - seems a long time ago now!

Your analogy of islands in a sea of chaos is interesting. I call my daily practice of T5T "My inner rod of iron, around which the chaos of life revolves." That's why I'll never stop doing them!

Anonymous said...

my dear, china is way, way ahead of india, pakistan, bangladesh and several african, european and south american countries. it is the new super power in the making. in the countries i mention, millions of people have no food to eat even today. anyway, coming to the 5 rites, why is 21 a magical number, what is the next magical number and why?

Carolinda Witt said...

So true! Your question about the significance of 21, is a question I have too? I've posted some information on the blog - check it out.

Anonymous said...

the 5 rites cant be done in isolation. healing is always holistic. diet, thought and the environment play a vital role. simple food, clean thoughts and a non stressful enviornment are all vital. unfortunately, urban existence compromises all this.

Carolinda Witt said...

I Agree with you completely about the various factors that lead to holistic health.

I realise also that there is no healing without illness, no rejuvenation without degeneration, no stress without calm and so on. The one-sided viewpoints we all have at times, mean we are only seeing one side of the yin/yang coin. Both exist at the same time in order for either to exist. Nature and our bodies strive for balance, which is what we strive to do with our minds and emotions.

Anonymous said...

wish you a great 07. more power to t5t!!!

Carolinda Witt said...

Happy New Year to you too! It's going to be a busy year and very rewarding to see so many people gain the benefits that we who practice already experience. On April 3rd this year, the US version of the book is released called 'The 10-Minute Rejuvenation Plan'. At the same time we shall be launching an internet/distance based teacher training program. This will allow T5T to be taught all over the world. As you say, 'more power to T5T' and the people who practice it! All the best....