Yoga - Take five !
by Irma Batting
Exercise 1. See overleaf for instructions Discovered in a lamasery in Tibet, the Five Tibetan Rites has become accessible to the rest of the world thanks to Peter Kelderís book, The Eye of Revelation, originally published in 1939. The material was republished with a foreword by Bernie M. Siegel, M.D. as The Ancient Secret of the Fountain of Youth in 1998. Ever since the late '30s, practitioners from all over the world and of every age have been benefitting from the revitalising effects of this series of five exercises. They report increased energy, weight loss, better memory, new hair growth, pain relief, better digestion, youthfulness and so forth.
The Five Tibetan Rites has helped me stay in pretty good shape over the last 25 years too! There are several reasons why this is the only exercise routine that I have stuck with for so long. For one, the Five Rites can be completed in as little as 10 minutes. Lack of time simply isnít an excuse here! No equipment or particular location are required; the exercises can be done on a yoga mat or a towel, on the floor, on the beach and in the smallest room.
|This is not a chore to be performed, but a daily gift to yourself. Be appreciative as you practice and have a smile on your face.|
Exercise 2. See overleaf for instuctions Especially exercise number 4, which I have adapted from the original form to suit the needs of practitioners with low back issues (there are so many of them), will work your core muscles in a very effective manner. They need it! Most of us spend too much time sitting, thereby letting the muscles that are supposed to support our skeleton wither away. Your core muscle strength will increase as you keep practising the Five Rites.
You are not competing with anyone; proceed at your tempo. Do as much as you feel comfortable with, checking in with your body as you practice and pushing your limits a little further every time. Build up to seven repetitions per exercise, then to 14, until you are able to do 21 repetitions of each exercise, in their proper sequence. Seven repetitions will take about ten minutes and will give you a lot of benefit. So if you donít have 30 minutes to perform 21 repetitions, donít worry, just do as much as you can. But do that!
It takes 21 days to create a habit. Ideally, you repeat the Five Rites every day at a similar time and place. I prefer to do them first thing in the morning, after getting up and having a glass of water. The consistency will help you build that new, healthy habit. After three weeks, your subconscious will probably ask for the Five Rites and you will do them automatically.
Practice mindfully. Take in as much fresh air as possible. Breathe slowly and let your body follow your natural breathing pattern during each exercise. When your muscles are relaxed, let go of all stress. When they are flexed, fully feel the tension in your body. The Five Rites address the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual bodies. They are a meditative practice as well as a work-out. Pay attention to the still point between the inhale and exhale. Use this naturally occurring pause to put everything on hold, and with time, you will see that this gap lengthens. The still point is that magical space that allows you to connect to the Divine. Explore it!
Exercise 3 Another advice: The days when you wake up feeling down, grumpy or outright angry and you want to avoid the Five Tibetans are the days when you need them the most! Unpleasant emotions may surface as you go through the exercises. That is great! Let them go! Otherwise, you carry them around with you all day and you let them run the show, infecting your mood and affecting the people around you adversely. Why not let them out of your system in the morning, before you meet the world? Your day will unfold in a much more pleasant and productive manner, guaranteed.
Last but not least, enjoy the Five Tibetans! This is not a chore to be performed, but a daily gift to yourself. Be appreciative as you practise, have a smile on your face and watch your well-being increase with each passing day!
Exercise 4 1) Spin clockwise, your arms stretched out to the sides at shoulder height, palms facing down. You can finish the exercise by putting the hands on your hips and exhaling deeply twice before moving on to number 2). This will help you with the dizziness (although being dizzy is not harmful; make it a point to enjoy losing control, like children do!).
2) Lie flat on the floor, arms along your body, palms facing down. As you breathe in, raise your head and your flexed legs (90 degrees or more off the floor). As you breathe out, lower your head and legs. Do this slowly, following your normal breathing rhythm. It is great for your abs.
3) Kneel (you can use a small cushion or fold your mat to protect your knees) with your legs wide apart, toes tucked under. Put your hands underneath your buttocks to protect your lower back. As a lot of people have low back issues, I adapted this exercise to suit everyone (and at the same time give an additional workout to your core muscles!). Inhale in that position. Exhale, dropping your head, letting it stretch the muscles of your neck and shoulders. Inhale while tilting back your head (opening your throat chakra) and lean back, using the quadriceps muscles, keeping your back straight (rather than bending it). Come back to your upright position as you exhale.
4) Sit with your back straight, legs hip-wide apart, arms along your body, palms next to your hips facing forward. Inhale as you flex the muscles of your body. Exhale, dropping your head, letting it stretch your neck and shoulder muscles while the rest of your body relaxes. As you inhale again, drop your head as far back as you feel comfortable and lift your pelvis into a plank pose. Do not move your hands or legs, simply shift your pelvis upward, paying attention to engaging your abdominal muscles to keep your back as straight as possible. As you are in plank pose, you can hold your breath for as long as you feel comfortable. Exhale coming back down to the original position.
Exercise 5 5) Inhale for the upward facing dog, only the toes (tucked under) and the hands touching the floor. Exhale for the downward facing dog. While your pelvis pushes upward, focus on your heels and hands pressing into the floor, grounding you. (In the original book, the breathing instructions seem to indicate an opposite breathing pattern; however, I find that breathing the way described here opens the lungs and the chakras more).
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