The five Tibetans is a unique sequence of yoga poses reputed to be the key to longevity. According to legend, the sequence was created by Tibetan monks in a Himalayan monastery and then brought into the world by British Army Colonel Bradford. The colonel was amazed by the monks’ vitality and superior health. They credited their religious observances, simple diet and the five Tibetans.
1. Whirling Dervish
The first of the five Tibetans is a standing exercise. To perform this exercise, stand up straight with your arms held out to your sides at shoulder height. Spin to the right and keep looking forward. Let your vision blur as you spin. Breathe deeply into your abdomen. Slowly work up to 21 spins.
2. Tibetan leg lifts
The second of the five Tibetans is similar to an abdominal exercise called leg lifts. To begin, lie on your back with your legs straight and your arms at your sides. Touch your legs together. Inhale as you lift your legs until they are perpendicular with the floor. Raise your head off the floor at the same time, bringing your chin toward your chest. Exhale as you lower your head and legs back to the floor. Work up to 21 leg raises.
3. Moving through camel pose
The third of the five Tibetans promotes flexibility of the spine and gently stretches the back, chest, abdomen and neck. The exercise is similar to camel pose used in other styles of yoga but is a less extreme back bend.
To perform the exercise, kneel on the floor and relax your arms against your sides. Your back is straight with your hips, shoulders and knees in line. First, exhale and bend your chin toward your chest. Then, inhale as you bend your head back to look up and you gently arch your lower back. Slide your hands up to your lower back as you bend backwards. Repeat up to 21 times.
4. Staff to upward plank pose
The fourth exercise combines two popular yoga postures, the staff pose and a variation of upward plank pose. The exercise strengthens the wrists, arms, core and legs.
To begin, sit with your legs together and straight in front of you. Place your hands on the floor next to your buttocks with your fingers pointing forward and flex your feet toward your shins. This is staff pose. Inhale as you bend your knees and raise your hips off the floor. Lift up until your spine is parallel to the floor and your knees are in line with your ankles. Look at the ceiling. Exhale as you lower back into staff pose. Perform up to 21 repetitions.
5. Down dog to cobra pose
The fifth exercise moves from downward-facing dog pose to cobra. The Tibetan exercise strengthens the arms, shoulders and chest while also stretching the abdomen, shoulders and legs.
To begin, assume push-up position with your hands shoulder-width apart. Inhale and press your hips up toward the ceiling. Your arms and legs are straight. Push your heels down and align your neck with your spine. This is down dog. Exhale as you lower your hips and arch your back. Lift your chest to face forward as you tilt your head to look up. Your hips are inches from the floor and your arms are straight. Perform up to 21 reps.
Starting off the day with the five Tibetans provides energy and increases alertness. The sequence can also provide a burst of energy in the afternoon or evening, when many people’s energy levels drop.