Were first discovered in the west in 1939 when Peter Kelder’s book, ‘The Eye of Revelation,’ was published. He followed this in the nineties with ‘Ancient Secret of the Fountain of Youth,’ which tells the story of a mysterious British retired Colonel, who travelled widely in Tibet. He couldn’t believe how old and fit the monks were, and how easily they ran up and down the steep, arduous slopes to their monastery which was built on the top of the Himalayan mountain. So he asked them to teach him the rites of rejuvenation and this story began…
“It’s easy. It’s fast. And it works! I love this program.”
John Gray, Author of Men Are from Mars, Women are from Venus
I discovered the 5 Tibetans around 15 years ago and sensed immediately that here was something of significance for me. I just worked by myself from the book and found that my weight effortlessly dropped, my body was more toned, my vitality was increased and it even seemed to strengthen my Reiki flow. I remember meeting a colleague I hadn’t seen for a year and she was effusive about how great I looked. The only thing I was doing differently was the 5 T’s.
Many years later, I learned of Dekyi-Lee Oldershaw, a former Tibetan Buddhist nun, who taught an authentic form she called, ‘The 5 Tibetan Yogas.’ Dekyi-Lee had been taught by ZaChoeje Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist master from Drepung Monastery (Gelugpa Tradition) in India.
In 2008 I completed the facilitator training with Dekyi-Lee. I found the complete system of be of immense value, much more authentic as they included the original Buddhist subtle levels and foundations that underpin the practice and they have more of a focus on healing, transformation and compassion.
ONLINE VERSION: Individual teaching, usually in around 4 Zoom sessions, with booklet and on-going support. Book here then get in touch to arrange your first session.
Dekyi-Lee’s path to the 5 Tibetans was interesting. She says,
“In 1984, I found a copy of “The Fountain of Youth,” quite coincidentally, at a yard sale. Intuitively, I knew it was important for me to do the exercises. Later, in 1990, while living in Scotland at the Findhorn Foundation, I met a remarkably fit older man of exceptional physical and cardiovascular strength. I asked him how he had managed to achieve this. His answer? ‘You won’t believe this, but I only spend fifteen to twenty minutes each day.’ I wondered… Could it be? ‘You are not doing those Five Tibetan exercises are you?’ He laughed ‘Yes, that is all I have done!’
In my sixth year of studying and living the life of a Tibetan Buddhist nun, I asked my lama for advice. I needed help when I was in long retreats, from three weeks to three months duration, to relieve the stress of trying too hard, of being too intense and unbalancing the subtle nervous systems, leading to illness. He told me to talk with one of the rare Western monks that had completed three years in solitary retreat and had overcome these same problems. I followed my lama’s advice and sought out the monk. When he told me, ‘I did these exercises called The Five Tibetans,’ I could only laugh.”
The weekend will focus on a deeper understanding and grasp of transforming the causes of suffering at the personal healing level along with the Buddhist principles behind the work, which takes the 5 Tibetans beyond a simple yoga practice into a deeply transformative spiritual practice.
Although the system is based on 5 yogic postures, the emphasis is on general healing. Therefore this is not a class to take if you hold the ‘no pain, no gain’ gym mentality. In fact, it doesn’t matter if your mobility is very limited – you will still be able to partake and fully benefit from the retreat.
There are 6 components of the practice:
1. The yoga postures. The postures are performed to each individual’s ability and in a flowing manner – they are not ‘held,’ like asanas. There are adaptations that allow for physical differences and levels of flexibility. If you cannot attain a posture, you can perform the adaptation or simply visualise it clearly as you practice the other elements of the work. The movement, (no matter how limited,) is the key that unlocks the whole process.
2. The 5 elements. Each posture is related to one of the 5 elements of the body and balances that element. They are water, fire, space, (air,) earth, (matter,) and wind. Wind in the Tibetan system relates more to our idea of ‘energy’ i.e. a moving ‘wind’ that brings nurture and renewal.
3. The Chakras. Tibetan healing system is many thousands of years old. It uses the 5 chakra system. The 1st chakra combines Crown & third eye, throat, heart, solar plexus and sacral combined, then base. The postures influence both the element and the chakra it is associated with. They open the chakras and also increase the rate of spin. This is why it is important to begin gently, therefore on the retreat we will be doing a maximum of 4 repetitions. Eventually you can do 21 repetitions, increasing by a maximum of 2 per week. The faster the chakras spin, the healthier you will be and the greater your vitality.
4. Healing the Chakras. We use insight, movement, breath, intention and Divine light to heal the common causes (& effects) of suffering in this human life – referred to in the Buddhist system as delusions. His Holiness the Dalai Lama describes delusions as ‘states of mind that leave us disturbed, confused or unhappy.’Actually, we experience these states almost every day in some form or another. Therefore working on them consciously in this way has a profound effect on our everyday mindset – like windscreen wipers restoring clear vision, or at least the insight to see when we need the wipers.
Some of the delusions we will be transforming are:
- Ignorance & confusion to Mind of Enlightenment (Crown & 3rd eye.)
- Desire & attachment, grasping & clinging are transformed into wholeness and completeness within the self. (Throat.)
- Anger, resentment, envy, revenge, hate – (all forms of attack,) are transformed to peace and love. Pain, loss and grief are dissolved by sparks of pure Joy. (Heart.)
- Judgement, blame, guilt and shame are transformed into acceptance, (high level trust insight,) tolerance, compassion and honouring. (Solar plexus & Sacral.)
- Separation, isolation, alienation, superiority, (arrogance,) inferiority, (victim,) all forms of ‘isms’ –i.e. sexism, ageism, racism, classism, speciesism etc., – all forms of separation are transformed to communication/communion, oneness, unity consciousness.
5. The breath. We use the power of the breath to help us attain the postures – which makes it much easier. We also use the breath to bring in the healing elements and clear out after the healing.
6. The Buddhist framework of the practice. The practice and all other elements are set within a framework which exponentially increases the efficacy of the whole. Each aspect is valuable by itself, but even more so as a complete practice. Without this element the practice would still be very beneficial, however, taken as a whole it is pure magic.
Benefits of The 5 Tibetan Yogas
It was not called, “Rites of Rejuvenation” for nothing! As the chakras spin faster the body becomes healthier and functions better. It will improve flexibility, mobility, energy and there have been innumerable reports of improvements in physical problems, even longstanding ones and reduced chronic pain. But the greatest impact, I believe, comes from the more positive outlook that regular practice engenders. In a nutshell, people are more empowered, motivated, happier and peaceful – regularly reporting that things that had previously upset them don’t bother them anymore. People often report effortless weight loss and less or no desire for unhealthy things – whether foods/alcohol or behaviours. When we commit to our 5 Tibetans, we seem to stop putting barriers in the road to our enlightenment and happiness.
As Dekyi-Lee says,
Almost anyone can do them, at any age. They are a perfect accompaniment to meditation practice and will benefit anyone with physical limitations, or who just does not have enough time to do other longer yoga classes or gym workouts. For someone in athletic training, they are the perfect compliment, providing the ‘lubrication’ of the body and the pliability that is often lost in strenuous workouts.
Susan Westbrook came over from the US to take her Reiki Masters in 2011. As part of the programme I taught her the 5 Tibetans. In her wonderful new book, published by Findhorn Press, Susan says, “I am now more comprehensively fit than I was when I worked out at the gym three times a week. ” And it takes only 15 enjoyable minutes a day.
“These five simple exercises will make you feel young again.” Bernie S. Siegel, M.D.