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The 5 Tibetans

The Fountain of Youth


The 5 Tibetans also known as the Fountain of Youth is ideally practiced daily. 

Building up over time, the aim is to be comfortablyable to do 21 repetitions of each exercise.  I find that doing 21 repetitions of each exercise takes me approximately 15 mins in total. 


In my daily online classes we have 3 main ways that we practice the 5 Tibetans.


In the 'Seperates' & 'Timed' practices we do some Pranayam exercises in between the Tibetans, as these help to centre and us even more as well as giving the body a little resting time.   


If you are new or the practice feels too strong, then you should start with anywhere from 2-3 repetitions of an exercise and build it up gradually over time with consistent practice.


In the 'Seperates' practice we also use the Pranayam to allow us to come back together and start the next Tibetan exercise as a group. Here we count the number of Tibetans we do over time until we 

can do 21 comfortably.  Then we focus on form and breath as we practice.


In the 'Timed' practice we set an amount of time for each Tibetan exercise and each Pranayam. This allows us to turn of the mind and focus more on feeling and form, or we can count and see how many or how few we can do.


In the 'Continuous' practice there are 2 options.  Option 1 is to put each exercise straight after the next, which can allow a greater sense of meditation and building endurance.  With Option 2, some students like to link some of the movements together creating a Tibetan sequence.

Exercise 1a - Spinning

  • This is how I used to teach Tibetan 1. It is a great way of doing it, however it doesn't really connect to the breath.

  • Spinning is probably the most challenging exercise for most adults.

  • Build it up slowly.

  • Spot one point in the room as best you can.

  • Look at your hands if you feel sick or dizzy.

Spinning destabilises the fluid in the ears and our sense of orientation.  With practice we can make ourselves less vulnerable to the adverse affects.  Initially we will start recovering faster from feeling dizzy, and eventually we will not feel so dizzy at all.

Looking at the hands after the practice helps bring all of our senses to one fixed point and steadies our overall sense. It is why sitting in the front seat of the car and watching the road is a little bit better for someone with travel sickness, as the eyes and the ears give the body the same information regarding bumps and jolts; so it is less confusing and disturbing.

In recent months I have felt that this spinning practice could be likened to jumping into some freezing cold water, in the way that you will feel very different afterwards.  It is really good for changing our state of mind.  If you have something on your mind you can shake it off (or spin it off) with this exercise and you will be less distracted and more centred and focused afterwards.

Exercise 1b - Turning

  • With the breath being the starting point, we step heel-heel, then toe-toe, turning slowly.

  • This allows us to work our balance without the risk of dizzyness.

  • Work hip rotation to warm up the base of the spine. 

  • Feel free to hold a chair or wall if balance is a problem.

  • Take one step per inhale, one step per exhale.

  • After half way, through turn in the opposite direction.

This way of working really stimulates the rotational movement of both the legs.  It will develop your balance through a full rotational movement.  The legs pull on the spine, so we are also warming up the lower back and hips in preparation for the rest of the movements.  You can also work rotation in the arms to mirror the leg movements and this will stimulate the shoulders and upper spine.  When the movement and balance is easy, you can try to move slowly and continuously so you spend more time standing on just one leg.  You could also try closing the eyes for increased challenge. 

Exercise 2 - Plough Vinyasa

  • On the inhale
    Lift the head, then the legs (& maybe the bottom if you can without strain)

  • On the exhale
    Bring the legs to the floor, then the head and finish each breath in complete relaxation.

  • Keep breath and movement smooth & connected

The main purpose of this exercise is to change the shape of the spine, to curl the spine against gravity.  It is a strong core workout.  If possible lift the head using the muscles of the upper belly so that the head and shoulders lift off the floor.  If you experience pain in the neck you are probably just using the neck to lift head. Pain is the bodies warning message to slow down or stop. Do as many as you can of the full movement, and if necessary continue just with the legs.

It is difficult to inhale and compress the belly at the same time. There is no rush. Do what you can and let your strength and flexibility develop over time.

Exercise 3 - Camel Vinyasa

  • On the Inhale
    Arch backwards to stretch the belly and chest.

  • On the Exhale
    Round forwards the stretch into the cack of the shoulderblades.

  • See howe much you can move the upper spine.

  • Try to fix the lower back, lengthening the tailbone down towards the back of the knees and gently contracting the buttocks and lower belly through-out the exercise.

This exercise should feel really nice after the Plough Vinyasa. The movement of stretching the belly and opening the chest is natural for the inhale breath.  

Explore how much you can move the spine without causing any pain in the lower back. 

This is a really good counter measure if you spend too many hours at a desk or computer.

It is also very powerful work for the legs as we are exploring the full range of movement of the spine with the legs as our foundation.

Exercise 4 - Tabletop Vinyasa

  • On the Inhale
    Lift the hips up as far as you can.
    Strong option: 
    Try to take the head backwards too, if it doesn't make you too dizzy.

  • On the Exhale
    Try to bring the bottom through the arms and straighten the legs as much as possible.
    Strong option: Chin to the chest, and lift the bottom up behind you.

  • Move the bottom and not the feet.

This can be a very tough vinyasa.  Try to have the hands somewhere between the bottom and the knees.  If it is all to tricky, place the hands further behind you. 

Feel free to sit down between each breath, but overtime you will build the strength and flexibility to do it all in one continuous flow of 21 breaths.

Eventually you will want the fingers to point towards the feet.  However, in the beginning do not worry about this.  Remember that the power of the practice is building up strength over time. Place the hands in any direction or position that allows you to do as much as you can comfortably.

Exercise 5 - Up/Downdog Vinyasa

  • On the Inhale
    Send hips forward and down towards the floor, lengthen the neck and gaze up and back as far as possible.

  • On the Exhale
    Lift bottom up and backwards, take the shoulders towards the legs and the head towards the floor.

  • Keep arms and legs throughout the exercise.

  • Shoulders wide

  • Feet together

Try to keep arms and legs straight and move at the hips and shoulders or through the spine.  Breath through the nose and try to keep the face relaxed.

The distance between the hands and feet should be the length of the body when it is straight in a plank position.  If we go too close it can make it really difficult on the inhale movement.

This can be a very challenging vinyasa if we are not used to the movement.  If you find that you are sliding a lot on the floor, try using a sticky yoga mat.  This will help tremendously until the body has opened up for this movement range.

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