In many societies, people are encouraged and feel pressured to make themselves appear more youthful. People dye their hair, use anti-aging products, get plastic surgery, take pharmaceutical drugs, and wear certain attire, all in an effort to look younger than their actual age.
What if I told you that there’s an all-natural way to make yourself not only look younger, but feel younger too? Thousands of years ago, the Tibetans discovered five exercises, the Tibetan Rites, or what Peter Kelder refers to as the “fountain of youth,” that are known to slow and even reverse many of the effects of aging.
Even though yoga only gained significant popularity in the West over the past few years, it remains an ancient practice in other parts of the world. The Vedas and other ancient texts in Hinduism and Buddhism indicate that yoga has been practiced for more than 5,000 years. Naturally, over the years, yoga poses and the associated names have been largely adapted, especially as yoga became more “Westernized”; for example, it is unlikely that the original practitioners used the phrase “downward dog” to describe its Sanskrit counterpart, “Adho Mukha Shvanasana.” Luckily, we have access to knowledge to keep these ancient practices alive, one of which is referred to in the Western world as the “Tibetan Rites.”
It is said that yoga was brought over to Tibet from India around the 11th or 12th century and that Tibetan monks modified and created a series of some of the poses, marking the birth of the Tibetan Rites. The Rites were only popularized in the Western world when Peter Kelder published his book The Five Rites Of Rejuvenation in 1939. Passed down from a Tibetan monastery in the Himalayas, the Rites were said to strengthen and energize the body and slow down the aging process. They were specifically designed to strengthen our chakras (translated from Sanskrit as “wheel of spinning energy“), as explained below by Kelder in his book Ancient Secret Of The Fountain Of Youth:
These spinning vortexes extend outward from the flesh in a healthy individual, but in the old, weak, and sickly they hardly reach the surface. The quickest way to regain youth, health, and vitality is to start these energy centers spinning normally again.
The 5 Tibetan Rites are to be practiced in order; however, the Tibetans maintained that even performing only one of the exercises would help open your chakras and benefit your health.
Stand with your feet hip-distance apart and your arms outstretched to form a “T,” palms facing the floor. Ensure that your arms are perfectly horizontal and in line with your shoulders. Spin in a clockwise motion as many times as comfortable, stopping when you feel dizzy or once you reach 21. In the Western world, most people recognize 21 as the goal to work up toward, although many Tibetan lamas stop at 12. To ease this process, you can engage in “spotting” (a popular term used in dance), whereby you look straight forward at one spot, until at the last second you turn your head around and find that same spot. Remember to breathe deeply as you’re spinning!
Lay down with your back on the floor and your legs together. Place the palms of your hands flat on the floor or, if you have lower back issues, beneath your sacrum. Breathe in deeply as you simultaneously lift your head off the floor, tuck your chin in, and lift your legs slowly until your feet are pointing toward the sky, keeping your legs as straight as possible. You can allow your legs to come even further toward your head if flexibility permits. Then, slowly exhale as you bring your head and legs back down toward the floor. Fully relax the muscles once they’ve returned to the ground. Repeat up to 21 times.
The third Rite is similar to “camel pose” in yoga. Start in a kneeling position with the body erect, toes curled under, hands placed at the back of the thighs, and your chin tucked in to your chest. As you inhale, arch the spine and let your hands crawl down your thighs, your head tilt upwards, and your shoulders draw back. Make sure that you’re arching from your upper back rather than your lower back. Exhale as you slowly transition back to your original kneeling position. Repeat up to 21 times.
Sit with your legs straight in front of you with your feet hip-distance apart, toes flexing upwards, then tuck your chin to your chest and place your palms flat on the floor beside you. As you inhale, drop your head back and slowly raise your buttocks as you simultaneously bend your knees until your body is horizontal in a “table” position. Exhale slowly as you return to your original seated position. Repeat up to 21 times.
The final Tibetan Rite is essentially transitioning between the yoga poses “downward dog” and “upward dog.” Begin by laying on the ground facing downward and placing your hands beside your upper chest, palms facing down. As you inhale, come into “upward dog” by flipping your toes, engaging your legs by raising your knees, and arching your back as you straighten your arms and look upward. As you exhale, slowly transition to “downward dog” by bending at the hips and inverting your body, making a “v” position. Repeat up to 21 times.
The Rites are suggested to be practiced once a day either in the morning or at night. It is important to note that you don’t need to perform the same amount of repetitions for all of the Rites, only as many as comfortable. However, most people, over time and with greater practice, can perform 21 repetitions per Rite. The entire routine takes about 15 minutes from start to finish. You have nothing to lose by trying these exercises (except maybe a few pounds) and so much to gain: strength, vitality, better overall health, a more youthful appearance, and inner peace.