The Five Tibetan Rites is a system of exercises reported to be more than 2,500 years old which were first publicized by Peter Kelder in a 1939 publication titled The Eye of Revelation.
The Rites are said to be a form of Tibetan yoga similar to the yoga series that originated in India. However, the Five Rites and traditional Tibetan yoga both emphasize “a continuous sequence of movement” (Sanskrit: vinyasa), whereas Indian forms focus on “static positions”. Although the Rites have circulated amongst yogis for decades, skeptics say that Tibetans have never recognized them as being authentic Tibetan practices.
The Five Tibetan Rites are also referred to as “The Five Rites”, “The Five Tibetans” and “The Five Rites of Rejuvenation”.
Performing the Rites
In the original The Eye of Revelation booklet, Kelder suggests standing erect between each of the Five Rites with hands on hips and taking one or two deep breaths; he neither implies nor suggests that specific breathing patterns should be adopted while performing the movements. Nevertheless, subsequent publications pertaining to the Rites contain edits by others which recommend and detail specific instructions for breathing while performing the exercises. Some practitioners also recommend taking caution before performing the Rites due to the possibility of aggravating certain health conditions.
Kelder cautions that when performing the First Rite, spinning must always be performed in a clockwise direction. He also states that Bradford clearly recalled that the Maulawiyah, otherwise known as “Whirling Dervishes”, always spun from left to right, in a clockwise direction. No mention is made of the orientation of the palms, although the original illustration of the Rite in the 1939 edition of The Eye of Revelation clearly depicts both palms as facing toward the ground. Here arises a point of contention: the Whirling Dervishes spin in the counter-clockwise direction, with the left palm facing down, towards the earth, and the right palm facing up, towards heaven. However, this discrepancy may find partial resolution in the fact that Tibetan Buddhist yoga regards clockwise rotation to be favorable, whereas counter-clockwise rotation is considered to be unfavorable.
Five Tibetan rite 1
“Stand erect with arms outstretched, horizontal with the shoulders. Now 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.
Five Tibetan rite 2
“Lie full length on rug or bed. Place the hands flat down alongside of the hips. Fingers should be kept close together with the finger-tips of each hand turned slightly toward one another. Raise the feet until the legs are straight up. If possible, let the feet extend back a bit over the body toward the head, but do not let the knees bend. 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.”
Five Tibetan rite 3
“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.”
Five Tibetan rite 4
“Sit erect on rug or carpet with feet stretched out in front. The legs must be perfectly straight — back of knees must be well down or close to the rug. Place the hands flat on the rug, fingers together, and the hands pointing outward slightly. Chin should be on chest — 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, too, will also be vertical while the body from shoulders to knees will be horizontal. As the body is raised upward allow the head gently to fall backward so that the head hangs backward as far as possible when the body is fully horizontal. Hold this position for a few moments, return to first position, and RELAX for a few moments before performing the Rite again.”
“When the body is pressed up to complete horizontal position, tense every muscle in the body.”
Five Tibetan rite 5
“Place the hands on the floor about two feet apart. Then, with the legs stretched out to the rear with the 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 the head should be brought 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.”
“It 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…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.”
Claimed benefits of performing the rites
According to Kelder, Bradford’s stay in the lamasery transformed him from a stooped, old gentleman with a cane to a tall and straight young man in the prime of his life. Additionally, he reported that Bradford’s hair had grown back, without a trace of gray. The revised publications of The Eye of Revelation titled Ancient Secret of the Fountain of Youth also contain numerous testimonials by practitioners of the Rites, claiming that they yield positive medical effects such as improved eyesight, memory, potency, hair growth, restoration of full color to completely gray hair, and anti-aging. However, claims as to the benefits of the Rites are often exaggerated, resulting in unrealistic expectations. The benefits most likely to be achieved are increased energy, stress reduction, and an enhanced sense of calm, clarity of thought, increased strength and flexibility, resulting in an overall improvement in health and well-being.