When I first heard about the Five Tibetan Rites, I was intrigued that the benefits of yoga could be distilled into one daily, 10-minute practice. As much as I’d love to practice 70 minutes of vinyasa every day, it’s just not realistic with my hectic schedule.
Having just turned 40, it also didn’t hurt that the Five Tibetan Rites are thought to have anti-aging effects and have even been touted as the “Tibetan Fountain of Youth.”
In his 1939 book, The Eye of Revelation, American mystic Peter Kelder claims that the rites had been passed down by an order of Tibetan lamas known for their extraordinary youthfulness and longevity.
While their true origins are subject to debate, the exercises do strongly resemble some 2,500 year-old Indo-Tibetan yoga practices. More importantly, practitioners report increased energy, strength, flexibility, mental peace and clarity.
After six months of practicing the rites more or less consistently, my smile lines haven’t gone anywhere. However, the practice has jump-started my morning routine, like a shot of espresso for mind, body and spirit. I’ve also noticed an improvement in strength and stamina during my regular vinyasa practice.
What makes these five simple postures so powerful? Each rite targets a different chakra system, modulating the flow of energy to the corresponding endocrine glands, which are responsible for regulating bodily processes like mood, metabolism, libido, growth and yes, aging.
Start by performing each rite just two to three times. Eventually, you may work up to the recommended 21 repetitions.
- CLOCKWISE SPIN — Extend your arms in a “T” and turn in a clockwise direction, palms face down. Avoid dizziness by focusing your gaze on a fixed object, such as the middle finger of your right hand.
- LEG LIFTS — Begin lying face up on the mat with your arms at your sides, palms face down or under the sacrum for additional lower back support. As you inhale, tuck your chin toward your chest and raise both legs until they are perpendicular to the floor. Knees may remain bent. Exhale and return to the starting position. rite
- KNEELING BACKBEND — Kneel with your hips and shoulders in line with your knees. Tuck your chin and press your hands to your sacrum or hamstrings. Firm your abdominals as you lean back, arching your upper back and chest toward the ceiling. Allow your head to drop back, as long as it doesn’t create discomfort in the neck. Exhale and repeat.
- MOVING TABLE — Sit with your legs extended straight on the floor in front of you, feet flexed. Tuck your chin and press your palms into the floor or blocks (staff pose). With the inhale, lift your torso into a table position, allowing your head gently to drop back. Ex-hale as you lower to the starting position. rite
- MOVING DOG — Start in upward dog, with toes tucked and shoulders over wrists. Exhale and push back into an inverted “V” shape, straightening your legs to the degree that’s comfortable (downward dog). Repeat.
Photo by Linus Mimietz.