Tibetan Yoga: 5 Rites and Principles

The Five Tibetan Rites is a system of exercises reported to be more than 2,500 years old. They were reportedly first publicized by Peter Kelder in a 1939 title, The Eye of Revelation. The Five Tibetan Rites are also referred to as “The Five Rites,” “The Five Tibetans” and “The Five Rites of Rejuvenation.”

The Rites are a form of Tibetan yoga similar to the yoga series that originated in India. However, the Five Rites of Tibetan yoga emphasize “a continuous sequence of movement,” whereas Indian forms focus on “static positions.” The Rites have circulated among yogis for decades, but skeptics state these as not being authentic Tibetan practices.

The first rite instructs you to stand erect with your arms outstretched, horizontal with the shoulders. You then spin around until you become slightly dizzy. There is only one caution: you must turn from left to right. A tip for this is to look at the end of your right hand as a reference point.

Moving to the second rite you lie full length on a rug or bed. Place the hands flat down alongside your hips. Keep your hands close together by turning the tips toward one another. Raise your feet to put your legs straight up in the air. If possible, extend your feet back a bit over the body toward your head, without bending your knees. Hold this position for a moment or two and then slowly lower the feet to the floor, and for the next several moments allow all of the muscles in the entire body to relax completely. Then perform the Rite all over again. While the feet and legs are being raised it is a good idea also to raise the head, then while the feet and legs are being lowered to the floor lower the head at the same time.

In the third rite, you kneel on a rug or mat with hands at sides, palms flat against the side of legs. Then lean forward as far as possible, bending at the waist, with head well forward—chin on chest. The second position of this Rite is to lean backward as far as possible. Cause the head to move still further backward. The toes will prevent you from falling over backward. The hands are always kept against the side of the legs. Next, come to an erect (kneeling) position, relax as much as possible for a moment, and perform Rite all over again.

In the fourth rite, you sit erect on a rug or carpet with feet stretched out in front. The legs must be perfectly straight, with the back of your knees down or close to the rug. Place the hands flat on the rug, fingers together, and the hands pointing outward slightly. Place your chin on your chest with your head forward. Now gently raise the body, at the same time bend the knees so that the legs from the knees down are practically straight up and down. The arms are also vertical with your body from shoulders to knees is horizontal. As you raise up, allow your head to fall backward so as to hang back as far as possible when the body is fully horizontal. Hold this position for a few moments, return to the first position, and RELAX for a few moments before performing the Rite again. When the body is pressed up to a completely horizontal position, tense every muscle in the body.

In the fifth rite, you place hands on the floor about two feet apart. Then, with the legs stretched out to the rear, feet also about two feet apart, push the body, and especially the hips, up as far as possible, rising on the toes and hands. At the same time, bring the head so far down that the chin comes up against the chest. Next, allow the body to come slowly down to a ‘sagging’ position. Bring the head up, causing it to be drawn as far back as possible. The muscles should be tensed for a moment when the body is at the highest point, and again at the lowest point.

The sixth rite should be practiced only when you feel an excess of sexual energy. Stand straight up and slowly let all of the air out of your lungs. Then, bend over and put your hands on your knees. With the lungs empty, return to a straight-up posture. Place your hands on your hips, and press down on them. As you do this, pull in the abdomen as much as possible, and at the same time raise the chest. Hold this position as long as you possibly can. Take air into your empty lungs, let the air flow in through the nose. When the lungs are full, exhale through the mouth. As you exhale, relax your arms. Then take several deep breaths through the mouth or nose, allowing them to escape through either the mouth or nose.”

Take a look at some videos of the 5 Rites of Tibetan Yoga:

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