Discovering the 5 Tibetans

Jennifer Valdés - Fitness
Foto: vitmark /


They are believed to be true miracles. Mythical, secret rites from the heights of the Himalayas, which promise more vitality and true rejuvenation. The so-called 5 Tibetan exercises supposedly strengthen the body, open the heart and help to re-discover one’s true self. And all of this in less than 15 minutes! What's behind it?

The 5 Tibetan exercises have an unusual origin - but it’s not located in an Asian high mountain range, as the name might suggest. They were first mentioned in the book "The Five Tibetans" by Peter Kelder in 1939. Kelder tells the story of a retired British officer named Colonel Bradford, who was looking for the fountain of eternal youth. His journey took him to a Tibetan monastery. During his stay, he became acquainted with special rituals, which were used to rejuvenate his body and mind: the 5 Tibetan exercises, as we know them today.

Today, the 5 Tibetan exercises attract a lot of attention. The exercises and their effects were particularly popular in the 80s and 90s of the last century. By now, they are practiced daily by a continuously growing number of people. Followers of the individual exercises praise their effects on body and mind. Comprehensive studies have now given scientific evidence to this impression: muscles, tendons, bones and joints are trained, all metabolic processes are boosted, the immune system and hormonal release are harmonized, the detoxification of the body is stimulated, and the vegetative nervous system is stabilized. The release of physical tension relaxes, and relieves emotional stress. It is said that the self-awareness resulting from the exercise strengthens confidence. The prerequisite, however, is that the 5 Tibetan exercises are practiced regularly, preferably daily, and are carried out with the correct technique and posture.

This how the 5 Tibetans work:

The exercises take about 15 minutes to complete. Each exercise is performed 3 times, with 21 repetitions in each set. That means: 21 reps of the first Tibetan, 21 reps of the second Tibetan, etc., then start over. Depending on the level of training, the reps can be lowered to 7. However, the goal is to be ambitious, so increase the reps weekly.

Here are all 5 Tibetan exercises with simple instructions: 

First Tibetan

Stand tall, with your feet hip-width apart, and your knees slightly bent. Extend the arms at the shoulder, with the elbows pointing outwards, and the palms facing downwards. Spin clockwise around your own axis, and count the revolutions. The dizzy sensation will subside over time, if the exercise is practiced regularly - try focussing on a point on the wall.

Second Tibetan

Lay flat on your back, arms close to the body. Rest your chin to the sternum. On the inhale, lift either both legs or one leg straight into the vertical. On the exhale, slowly lower your head and legs back to the starting position. If only one leg is raised, switch to the other leg after half of the repetitions. It is important that the back is always flat on the floor during the entire exercise. Breathe deeply.

Third Tibetan

Kneel on the floor, knees hip-width apart, and keep the upper body straight. Push your hips forward on the inhale, shoulders circling backwards and spine arched. Ideally, your arms are touching the feet. Tilt your head back as far as possible. Slowly exhale and return to the initial position.

Fourth Tibetan

Sit on the floor, with stretched legs and an upright body. Place your hands next to the hip. Breathe in slowly, let your head sink backwards, bend the knees, and lift the buttocks as well as the upper body. The arms remain straight. The goal is to position the chest, hip, and knee in a horizontal line, as much as possible. Keep the bridging position short, and return to the starting position on the exhale.

Fifth Tibetan

Lie on your stomach, hands in a push-up position next to your shoulders, feet hip-width apart. Extend the arms, consciously arch your back, and slowly let your head drop backwards. On the inhale, lift your pelvis and buttocks as far as possible, and stretch your legs - make sure your heels remain on the ground. At the same time, pull the chin towards the sternum, keeping your spine as stretched as possible. Return to the arched back position.

Pay attention to your breathing!

The most important thing in the 5 Tibetan exercises is the breathing rhythm. Make sure your breath flows smoothly and regularly. The movements should never be stalled, but be practiced fluently.

And that’s the legendary 5 Tibetan exercises!

Convince yourself of their powerful effect, and jump on your yoga mat today. Then leave a comment about your 5 Tibetan experience. =)

Have fun!




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