In case you are wondering, ‘The Five Tibetans’ are not a musical quintent from the Himalayas, but rather a series of life changing, and according to those who utilize them; ‘youthing’ yogic exercises. I initially encountered them a year or so ago, as taught by my friend Gael Chiarella Alba. I found them to be a bit challenging, but afterward felt energized.
In his classic book, now re-released, Christopher S. Kilham, who has been a yoga teacher for more than three decades, shares the history, benefits and philosophy of these simple to learn repetitive motions. The book has illustrations of the author demonstrating each rite. He shares early on in the book that the images are of the much younger man he was, when he began the process and that while he is still aging, it is at a slower pace than he would have otherwise. Kilham explains that the original name for the process is actually the ‘Five Rites of Rejuvenation’ and may not have orginated in Tibet, but perhaps India or Nepal.
One of the things I found intriguing about the book is the way in which he expresses the importance of honoring both body and spirit in the practice of life itself; neither more sacred than the other, but rather equal in worth. His personal experiences are highlighted as well, which leaves the reader feeling as if they are getting an intimate glimpse, rather than being held at arm’s length with explanation of esoteric principles.
As a yogic scholar, covering the topics of chakra psychology and kundalini energy; Kilham makes it simple for the Western mind to grasp. He highlights the importance of breathwork as well, to enhance vitality.
Kilham is also a ‘medicine hunter’ who traverses the globe, working with native healers and shamans, seeking botanical remedies.
As a sealing- sign- off to the book, Kilham shares “All the contortions of yoga-all the breathing, the concentration, the exercises, the dilligent practice-brings us eventually to the point where there is nothing at all to be done, nothing to grasp at, nothing to pursue, no goal to attain, just the sheer immensity of being right here, right now, the only time there is.” Powerful life lesson, both on and off the mat.