In 1985, Tibetan exercises became mainstream through the publishing of Peter Kelder's book, "The Ancient Secret of the Fountain of Youth." Tibetan exercises have long been touted for improving health through weight loss, improving vitality, promoting pain relief and increasing muscle tone -- essentially all the benefits you expect from exercise. People who practice these unique exercises often report feeling rejuvenated as their bodies look and feel younger.
Relaxation: Crucial Before and After Tibetan Exercise
Tibetan rejuvenation exercises are a mind-body experience. Thus, relaxation pre- and post-exercise is crucial. Plus, it's a great way to de-stress and maximize the effect of exercise. As you're probably aware, lying down is an effective way to relax. Try the Tibetan position of lying on the ground with your palms facing up and feet facing outward. Breathe deep and in rhythm. Use the energy from the pull of gravity to relax you. After five to 10 minutes of relaxation, it's time to begin exercising.
Exercise: The Five Rites
Kelder describes the Five Rites as "the secret fountain of youth." The Five Rites were purportedly discovered by a British colonel staying in a Tibetan monastery. Tibetan monks have been performing these rites for thousands of years to increase health and longevity. Kelder recommends performing one to five repetitions of each rite. Every week add an additional two reps. The goal is to increase reps until you reach 21 for each exercise. This may seem like a lot of exercise, but the rites are pretty quick and easy. Work at each rite slowly to master one before progressing to the next. The premise of the rites is speeding up your inherent "vortexes" to increase health.
According to Tibetan beliefs, all living things have seven inherent vortexes. The vortexes are commonly identified by letters. Vortex A is located in the forehead, B at the back of the head, C at the base of the neck, D on the right side above the waistline, E can be found in the reproductive system, and F and G are located in each knee. All vortexes must revolve at great speed to function to their full capacity. Perfect health can be achieved when all vortexes rapidly revolve and in synchrony. If any of the vortexes slow down, health becomes threatened.
To perform this rite stand straight with your arms out to each side in line with your shoulders. Your palms must face the ground. Spin clockwise without becoming too dizzy while breathing deeply.
This rite requires you to lie on your back on the floor. Your arms should be at your sides with palms touching the floor. Next, lift your head by placing your chin on your chest. Simultaneously, lift your legs so they are perpendicular from the ground; as you lift, inhale deeply. Return to the start position with your muscles relaxed; as you lower, exhale slowly.
Kneel on the ground with your back straight. Put your hands on the back of your thighs, which will serve as support for later movement. Move your head forward by placing your chin on your chest. Next, move your head back until your spine arches. Inhale deeply. Brace yourself with your hands by applying pressure to your thighs.
This rite begins in a seated position with your legs straight ahead of you. Your arms should be at your sides with your palms touching the ground. Rest your head so that your chin touches your chest. Bend your knees and place your feet on the ground. Raise your body so that you are in a modified "bridge" position, but keep your stomach flat so that you form more of a "table." Relax your neck to drop your head back. Tense all of your muscles as you move into the position and hold your breath. Finally, relax and exhale to return to the starting position.
Place your hands on the ground, two feet apart, keeping palms down. Stretch your legs out so you may also have your feet flat on the ground. Your feet you should be two feet apart. Push up with your body to form an inverted "V" shape. Simultaneously, tuck your chin to your chest. Next, relax the body as if allowing your torso and pelvis to sag to the floor. At the same time, gently move your head back. As you rise, inhale deeply; as you lower your body, exhale slowly.
Always talk with your doctor before integrating a new exercise into your routine. This is most important if you are pregnant or have had recent abdominal surgery, or if you have a hernia, arthritis of the spine, lower back pain, neck pain, shoulder issues, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease or carpal tunnel syndrome.
Jennifer Carr, MSHE specializes in health and wellness, fitness, nutrition, alternative medicine and treatment for substance abuse. She has served as a health-care communicator and recovery coach, providing support and guidance for individuals going through treatment for addictions. Carr completed her Master of Science in health education at Arcadia University. She graduated from Villanova University with a Bachelor of Arts.