Boost your energy and calm your nerves simultaneously with the Tibetan Rites of Rejuvenation. This series of five flowing yoga-like movements takes only about 10 minutes to complete, and the benefits are so rejuvenating that some have called it the fountain of youth.
Developed in a Tibetan monastery thousands of years ago, the practice was passed down by monks from generation to generation. It didn't reach the public until the 1930s, when it was detailed in Peter Kelder's The Original Five Tibetan Rites of Rejuvenation. The book inspired a modest Western following that took off in the 1980s with the release of Kelder's best-selling Ancient Secret of the Fountain of Youth. Enthusiasts who took up the practice reported improvements in strength, endurance, and energy; relief from joint pain and headaches; better memory and vision; weight loss; and even a more youthful appearance.
One such convert is Jeff Migdow, M.D., a practitioner of holistic medicine in Lenox, Mass., and co-author of the book Breathe-In, Breathe-Out. "I recommend Five Rites to my patients so they can experience more energy and vitality," he says. "In our culture, we do many forms of exercise to strengthen the body, but our physical activity doesn't necessarily energize or balance us."
The Five Rites are thought to stimulate and balance the seven major chakras, the body's energy centers. (See "The 7 Chakras".) "Though you can't see them, chakras are spinning electromagnetic fields of varying colors that draw energy into our systems as they spin, similar to swirling currents of water in a river," explains Migdow. When they spin too slowly or out of sync, he adds, the result is accelerated aging or disease.
Whether or not you chalk it up to the chakras, it's easy to see how these moves offer tremendous benefits. "You'll stimulate circulation and help your heart work more efficiently," Migdow says. "And the deep, synchronized breathing will relax your nervous system."
In short, performing the Five Rites will strengthen your body, stabilize your energy, and make you feel years younger. Not a bad return for a 10-minute investment.
Perform the exercises (see Boost Your Energy with Tibetan Yoga) daily in the order listed. You can use this program as a stand-alone energizer, or do it as a warm-up for any other activity.
To start: Begin with 3 to 5 repetitions of each move, no matter how fit you are. When you finish each move, pause and take 3 full breaths.
To progress: Take your time with this practice. Add 1 to 2 reps each week, or as you feel ready, and work your way up to 21 consecutive reps of each exercise. Don't try to do more, advises Migdow; instead, continue speeding up the moves to help the chakras spin faster. But don't move so quickly that you lose your form.
Cautions: Avoid exercising on a full stomach. If you're taking medication to control high blood pressure, keep your head above heart level and make sure to move very slowly through exercises 3 and 4.