Sunday, October 25, 2009

Do you want to look younger, wake up feeling refreshed and energized? Try the Five Tibetan Rites.

Do you want to feel more refreshed, have a better memory, improved physical strength and vigor, feel and look younger, as well as, wake up being refreshed and invigorated? I have taught these five Tibetan rites at the start of several of my yoga classes, and some of the participants have asked me to put them into writing so that they can practice them at home. They are easy to accomplish, and you do not need to have any special equipment.
The five Tibetan rites are a set of five exercises that were shared with a British army colonel by Tibetan monks back in 1935 and brought to the United States through a book by Peter Kelder The Ancient Secret of the Fountain of Youth. The Tibetan monks believed that these five exercises done on a daily basis would keep us young and awaken the energy systems in our bodies. It is also suggested that you combine these five movements with a 30 minute walk each day to improve your overall health and well-being.
Your breath is the MOST important part of any exercise; never, never, never hold your breath as you move into an isometric exercise. It will raise your blood pressure, and it is very dangerous to any person at any age.
Exercise 1:
Emphasis: balance
Stand a "T" position with your feet hip distance apart on the floor with no objects nearby. You can stand on your yoga mat or any flat surface. Focus your gaze over your middle right finger and keep it there until the exercise is complete. Inhale as you step into your right foot, exhale as you step into your left foot going in a circle as slowly or as quickly as you feel comfortable. The most important part is breathing and keeping your gaze focused on that middle right hand. 21 revolutions completes a set, but I have done them in my classes in 3 sets of 7 revolutions each to modify. This exercise strengthens the vestibular apparatus in your inner ear and keeps our sense of balance strong. When you have completed your 21st revolution, continue to stare at your middle right finger until the world stops spinning. Stretch out in standing extended mountain pose after you have completely stopped reaching your hands up towards the heavens and lengthening both sides of your waist; shake out your arms afterwards to relieve any tightness.

Exercise 2:
Emphasis: Core strength
Lying down on your mat or floor, bring your arms along side your body with your palms facing up. Inhale completely on the floor, and then you will exhale as you push your navel down into the floor and lift your head, neck, shoulder blades off the floor along with your feet and arms. It is similar to a crunch. However, the important part is not to over arch your neck and exhale as you lift. Keep everything in a nice long line and lift into a slight V position. Inhale on the way down; exhale again as you do the repetition 21 times. Remember you can always do 3 sets of 7 repetitions. Afterwards, stretch out in supine (laying down) extended mountain pose reaching your arms up above you and your toes lengthening away from you.

Exercise 3:
Emphasis: Upper body endurance
Come to hands and knees (quadriplex) on your mat. Stacking shoulders over wrists and knees under hips. You will do what I call the "inchworm" posture in yoga by dropping your chest and chin towards the floor with your elbows close into your sides. Lengthen your whole body onto the mat with your hands close to your ribcage and lift inhaling your upper body into a "cobra" pose as you claw all ten toes down into the mat. In cobra pose your head lengthens towards the top of the mat and then lifts off the mat to the front. Exhale back down onto the floor and push back up with a modified push-up into extended child's pose with knees slightly apart and your hips back over your calves. Remember the key here is elbows close to your body like wings as you keep your body into good alignment. Inhale as you lift into cobra; exhale as you come down and push back up into extended child's pose. Do this 21 times or in three sets of seven. Rest in extended child's pose afterwards.

Exercise 4:
Emphasis: Lower body strengthening
Come to a seated position on your mat with your knees in the air and feet flat on the mat hip width apart. Bring your hands back behind you, but this is most important! Your fingertips are towards your hips. Inhale in this neutral position, and as you exhale lift your hips, thighs, and abdominal region up towards the ceiling or sky as you keep your head in line with your spine (not allowing it to drop back and droop low). As you lift, tighten the muscles in your glutes, quads, and abs to strengthen your lower body. After 21 repetitions or three sets of seven, you may want to rest with your back on the floor and your knees on your chest as you circle your knees counterclockwise and clockwise in the air.

Exercise 5:
Emphasis: Improved physical stamina and vigor; better dorsal flexion and plantar flexion of the feet
This is the most energetic of all the exercises! I love it the best! From all fours or quadriplex, tuck your toes under and lift your hips into downward facing dog. Remember in down dog, your hands are flattened to the floor or mat with the weight bearing on your index fingers and thumbs (not the pinkie finger side of your hands) and on your feet which are hip width apart (about 2 fists distance). Your sit bones are lifted high into the air as you make an inverted "V" with your body. This is a great stretch for your hamstrings and gastrocnemius/soleus muscles in your calves along with your Achilles tendon. It is wonderful for runners, walkers, and cyclists. Make sure that your back is not the highest point. You exhale into downward facing dog, and on the inhale you roll over your toes into upward facing dog. If it is too much to roll over the toes, to start off with just, simply adjust your feet from toes down toward the mat in updog/heels and toes flat on the mat in downdog; you will get better at the roll-over with additional practice. In upward facing dog, your hands and the tops of your feet are touching the floor, your thighs and chest are lifting away from the floor as you gaze forward or up without crunching the neck.
Rest in savasana or corpse pose afterwards for five minutes as you close your eyes and completely relax your body.
These five exercises can be combined with a 30 minute brisk walk each day to enhance your cardiovascular health, your energy, and your total well-being. If you would like to see it in action, please "google" the Five Tibetan Rites and find Sarah Kline demonstrating it with a pro surfer and pro snowboarder. She does an excellent job explaining it, and a picture is worth a 1,000 words.

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