Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Are The Five Tibetan Rites Suitable For You?

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.

This unique sequence of 5 yoga 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.

Click here to Download your Free T5T: The Five Tibetan Rites Poster

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 benefits of the Rites on the internet - designed to entice buyers to purchase downloadable e-booklets - the credibility of the Rites has come under question. This is unnecessary, because once armed with a dose of reality; The Five Tibetan Rites of Rejuvenation are genuinely beneficial, and fit easily into daily life. I and thousands of other practitioners would certainly never stop doing them. To find out the truth about what benefits you can realistically expect read The Five Tibetans - What's Real & What Isn't?

Once you have read what you are likely to achieve from practicing the Rites, the next question to ask yourself, is "which method of learning the Rites should I adopt?"

The following questions, points and tips will help you assess what approach to learning The Five Tibetan Rites is best suited to you individually. If you have any doubts, or are beginning a new exercise program - you should consult your doctor.

About You?

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?

Have You Done Yoga Before, 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, whilst 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? Carry out the Breathing Tests on T5T's breathing consultant and expert Michael Grant White's website, to assess yourself correctly.

What You Need to Know Before Beginning The Rites

Because of the Rites historic reputation for anti-aging, many marketers naturally target people who have noticed the first signs of aging and want to do something about it. This group is highly motivated to ‘stop-the-clock’ and are very susceptible to claims that this product, or that service, that will halt their physical and/or mental decline. This is however, the very group of people who need to pursue any form of new exercise with safety and caution.

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 way for this group of people (or indeed most other groups) to learn the Rites. Peter Kelder's original book "The Eye of Revelation" is a great read (which I recommend) about 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 backwards as far as possible"

However if you follow these instructions to the letter, you are going to 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 soon noticed a similar percentage of people developing back or neck ache.

I consulted physiotherapists, chiropractors, osteopaths, occupational health and other health practitioners to develop 'T5T' (my abbreviation for The Five Tibetans) which is a much safer and easier way to learn and practice the Rites both short and long-term. The integrity of the original movements remains intact, and the problems of the past have been almost totally eradicated.

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. 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 to 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 whilst 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 both 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 10 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 dark red below is what we teach in T5T. 'T5T' is used to identify the modified system of the Rites that I developed in consultation with other health practitioners - 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 bad posture is 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 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 learnt helps expand your breathing capacity, slow down your breathing rate and improve vitality in your entire body/mind.

So, now you’ve read all this – what do you do next?

I recommend you read the original story of the discovery of the Rites which describes their unique history in the language of the time. Online e-booklets cost USD $19.95, but you can also purchase the legitimate printed version from the publishers, Borderlands Science directly, which costs USD $5.95. The booklet contains 30 pages and 9 illustrations.

What about T5T?

T5T contains all the modifications, adaptations, common problems & solutions that have been tried and tested over thousands of students, through workshops, books, DVD etc. It is a modified version of the Rites that includes a step-by-step strength development system that incorporates core stability, and breathing. The T5T Books contain 176 pages and 202 photographs.

Becoming an Instructor.

Consider becoming a Registered T5T Instructor, so you can also help others improve their health and vitality.

What other learning choices are there
  • Find a yoga teacher who has trained in core stability, neutral spine etc
  • Find a Pilates teacher and run through the routine with her/him
  • Learn about all the books that are available on the Rites by reading my Blog post, Learning the Five Tibetans From Books

If you wish to publish this article on your website, you may do so provided that you assign copyright to the author, exactly as written below.

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


Jeanne said...

Dear Carolinda,

Thank you for your new book on T5T. I began doing the five rites a number of years ago and frankly, when I started, I was only able to do about 3 of each. I doggedly kept at it and I well remember the sense of accomplishment the first time I achieved 21 repetitions of each rite.

However, as life would have it, I drifted away from the practice. When I came upon your new book recently, it inpired me to begin anew. For the last month, I've been practicing nearly every day and have worked back up to 16 repetitions.

I have a few observations:

1. Persistence and patience are the best friends of this practice,

2. Excessive concern about the number of repetitions can blind you to reaping the rewards of this quiet refreshing time with yourself,

3. Since it sometimes cold in the AM when I do the rites, I've found that placing a regular heating pad on 'low' on my yoga mat and under the towel I place over the mat is warming until the rites warm me up themselves,

4. I have noticed that I am less hungry when I practice the rites (and I've always been a very hungry person!)

5. I am not able (by any means) to do the rites in 10-15 minutes. I find it takes me more like 30 minutes. Perhaps as my aptitude and strength increase I can do them more efficiently.

6. I notice a subtle affect of my day progressing more smoothly and with less upset when I practice.

Thank you for renewing my motivation with your new book.


Carolinda Witt said...

Hi Jeanne,

Thank you so much for your comment and the tips and observations you gave about your own practice. I'm sure a lot of people can identity with your experience.

I like the heating pad idea on the yoga mat! Very smart!

I am so glad you have begun practicing the Rites again, it certainly is a challenge to build up to the 21 - but what a sense of achievement when you do! I imagine you find the T5T version quite a bit different? And, I hope you have noticed that your core muscles are getting stronger and stronger? Very important for everything we do.

Don't worry about them taking you longer, it is better to be concerned with alignment, control and core stability. There is a lot to think about isn't there?

10 - 15 mins is just the average but I do know other people who take 20 mins and have done the routine at that pace for years. It does speed up as your strength and memory of the fine steps improves but ultimately it depends on the pace you set yourself. I have days where I go awfully slow, because I am enjoying the breaks in between or maybe being a bit lazy!! Most of the time though it takes me 9.5 to 10 mins.

Thank you again for your comment, it is so nice to hear how people are going.

All the best,


evision said...

i have gone through this blog. i found it really interesting fot my job and my future career

online business

Carolinda Witt said...

Hi Evision. Thanks so much for your comments. A lot of effort goes into things that we do and it is always appreciated to get some feedback. All the best with your career too!

Debbie said...

Thank you so much for your informative blog and website. I read about the Five Rites in Detox Your World by Shazzie and started incorporating them into my daily routine. However, although I do have a background in pilates, I haven't done much core stability work for several years and I really struggled to keep good form while doing the second exercise. I have just ordered your book and I hope that with the help of your advice and modifications, I will soon be strong enough to perform the rites correctly :)
Kind regards


Carolinda Witt said...

Hi Debbie.

How great it is to meet someone who 'gets' the importance of incorporating core stability into the Rites! There is no doubt you will increase your core strength very effectively! As you have probably noticed on our website, we have Pilates instructors who are very enthused about the core strength development steps in T5T.

As you know core strength develops best by beginning with low loads and increasing repetitions. In the T5T method of learning the Rites, we start with just 3 repetitions per week and add 2 more reps per week until you are doing the required 21 repetitions in around 10 weeks time. This is exactly what was recommend by Colonel Bradford who discovered the monks BUT in T5T we also slightly change the 2nd Rites (The Leg-Raise) every week for 10 weeks. This increases the muscle load to the core muscles and ensures the strength development that is necessary for what you refer to as 'good form'.

We activate the core stabilizers throughout the entire process. You will find the book gives detailed explanations.

Good luck with your T5T - it is a lifetime habit of mine.

All the best, Carolinda

fiona said...

hi, its very informative, Neck Ache , thanks

Diana said...

I started T5T with great gusto and got to 12 repetitions quite quickly. However I found that despite feeling very energized during the day I did continue to feel slightly bilious and dizzy behind the eyes. Toxins being released I thought.
I have done a lot of dance and yoga and so thought I would be O.K but I have had to desist and hence looked up the contra-indications.
I am 72 and do a lot of physical work which I enjoy.The spinning did make me quite dizzy as well and 12 times was too many.
Perhaps I should start with 3 and add 2 per week.

Carolinda Witt said...

Diana, you have answered it yourself. I have taught yoga teachers who have taken six months to build up to the 21 reps of the spin because of the symptoms you describe. Colonel Bradford recommended starting with just 3 reps in the first week, then adding two per week for the next 10 weeks when you will be doing the required 21. This works best to allow the body time to adjust. You can progress with the other four movements while you slowly catch up with the Spin. Here are some suggestions about the Spin http://www.t5t.com/article_info.php?articles_id=6

Unknown said...

Hi Carolinda
I have been doing the rites for about 14 weeks. I am having a lot of trouble with the 2nd rite, the Leg Raise. I have had four caesarians (last one 6 years ago) and have weakness in my lower body. When I do the lowering of the legs it pulls on my neck (old whiplash injury). I believe this is because of the lack of muscle in my lower belly. At any rate the pain in my neck and head is now so bad that I've stopped doing the rites. Is there a substitute for the leg raise that I could do instead. I am clear in myself that my body cannot do the leg raise.
Thank you so much. Looking forward to hearing your response as I am very reluctant to stop doing the rites.

Carolinda Witt said...

Hi Unknown. You've done the right thing to stop and seek advice. You are not alone in this as a certain percentage of all would-be practitioners suffer neck or lower back pain for a number of reasons including muscle weakness, lack of core muscle strength and a previous history of injury. For your neck - I would prop your head on three medium sized books and leave it there while you lift your legs. However, you are correct that you are probably not able to use your core muscles and this requires building up their strength.
In the method that I teach, the first step is to be able to feel and identify the very deep core muscles that wrap around and protect the spine Step 2 is to build up their strength gradually as these muscles are built for endurance (to hold and stabilize). Like any muscle development you don't go straight to the gym and lift the heaviest weights first, you build gradually. I do this by following Colonel Bradford's system of starting with 3 reps, then adding just 2 per week until you are doing 21 in ten weeks time - HOWEVER I add a muscular challenge to the Leg Raise (Rite 2) every week, to build up the core muscles. Like guidewires on a tent, this helps to strengthen the muscles in the lower abdomen, just like a natural weight belt. Unless there is extensive damage/history of lower back pain, this method normally makes it possible for a far greater number of people to do the Rites safely and easily.
The other issue with the original method of the Rites is that there is over extension of the spine in the backbend in Rite 3 and Rite 5, and the neck or spine is not kept lengthened and collapses, compressing the vertebrae and discs. In the Leg Raise, it is better not to bring the legs back over the stomach as it takes the spine out of its natural curves (neutral spine) which is the optimal position for the core stabilizing muscles to protect the spine. Unfortunately it is impossible to outline these methods here simply because of the extent of information but I highly recommend you use my illustrated book or DVD which are both available on Amazon or my book (paperback or Kindle. I worked with many health practitioners to develop this method for the reasons mentioned above and we have had a great deal of success with it. See http://amzn.com/B003NIANM6 for the DVD
Kindle - Illustrated Five Tibetan Rites - https://amzn.com/B01GPDY8SK
Paperback - Illustrated Five Tibetan Rites - https://amzn.com/0987070312
Hope this helps as I understand you don't want to give up.