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.
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;
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.
- 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