Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Five Tibetan Rites - Should The Heels Touch The Floor In the 5th Rite?

It's up to you really! You can perform it exactly as instructed (heels raised above the floor) in the original book "The Eye of Revelation" - written in 1939 about the discovery of the monks - or you can lower the heels to the floor for the reasons mentioned below. It won't make any difference to the intended purpose of the Rites, which is to get the chakras spinning more rapidly so Qi can circulate freely throughout the body.

Image at right from "The Eye of Revelation" 1939 which you can
(Download Free Here)

This pose is made up of two parts. Downward Dog (upside down V shape) and a variation of Upward Dog as illustrated in the 2nd picture below.


Image at left with further instructions available from Yoga Journal







Image at left from www.T5T.com






Many yoga postures are derived from observing the movement of animals. Rite No 5 is a very common yoga posture known as Downward Dog or Adho Mukha Svanasana in Sanskrit. It resembles a dog stretching after a nap. In today's terms; having the heels elevated off the floor is a classic beginner's version of Downward Dog. Beginners leg muscles are often very tight and many would not be able to lower their heels to the floor without overstraining. Over time as muscles stretch, most people are able to comfortably lower their heels to the floor - and this increases the beneficial effects of the stretch.

However, everyone is built individually including the size & proportion of their bones. In some people the bones of the ankle and the foot compress, preventing any further movement. They will never be able to place their heels flat on the floor (I am one of them) - because that is the way they were born. Once bone and bone compress, there is nowhere else to go. You can release tension in the muscles but you can't stretch bone! For fascinating information on compression and tension - and why some people can't do certain yoga postures the same way as others - see Paul Grilley's "Anatomy for Yoga" DVD.

Downward Dog is recommended for:

  • for energising the body
  • Stretching the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands
  • Strengthening the arms and legs

Yoga Journal describes this 'Deepening of The Pose' as follows:

..."To increase the stretch in the backs of your legs, lift slightly up onto the balls of your feet, pulling your heels a half-inch or so away from the floor. Then draw your inner groins deep into the pelvis, lifting actively from the inner heels. Finally, from the height of the groins, lengthen the heels back onto the floor, moving the outer heels faster than the inner."...

A precedent for having the heels touch the floor can be found in the ancient 8th Century Tibetan Yantra Yoga as taught by the Master Chogyal Namkhai Norbu. On page 174 of his book "Yantra Yoga - The Tibetan Yoga of Movement"
published by Snow Lion Publications - the text and the corresponding illustration instructs students "to place the heels on the floor."

Therefore I suggest you make a personal decision as to whether you want to stick to the pure original or 'deepen the stretch' as we do in the T5T® version of The Five Tibetan Rites.

During the 2nd part of the movement in the T5T® method, we avoid doing the posture on our tip toes (as illustrated in The Eye of Revelation) to avoid compression of the vertebrae and discs.

To Download "The Eye of Revelation" Free - Click Here

To Learn T5T - and get your chakras spinning more rapidly - Click Here

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: A pdf version is available on request.

Copyright (c) 2005 Carolinda Witt - author T5T - The Five Tibetan Exercise Rites (Penguin/Lantern 2005) and The 10-Minute Rejuvenation Plan (Random House/Three Rivers Press 2007

2 comments:

sfauthor said...

Nice posting. Do you know about these yoga books?

http://www.yogavidya.com/freepdfs.html

Carolinda Witt said...

I think I have seen it before - great information - thank you!