To a Fountain Of Youth?
By Eileen Majors
Author, balloonist and teacher Carolinda Witt teaches the program and offers DVD and books with instruction. A few of her students had trouble performing the rites. In her effort to make the 5 Rites safer for her students and others she consulted with health practitioners in the areas of chiropractic, occupational health, Pilates, and Iyengar Yoga and Feldenkrais instructors, finally testing their suggestions out on her students. She reports that while they were minimal in numbers, back and neck pain issues have all but disappeared in her students since revising the moves.
She has published an e book and an instructional DVD that shows how to do the moves correctly. She asks students to identify their fitness level before starting and she stresses the importance of even the fit students starting with three repetitions of each exercise and working up to 21 reps slowly, by adding just 2 reps per week. She says changes to the balance system and energy system occur when doing the rites, and the body needs time to adjust. The book defines the science behind the program, dating back to ancient Chinese medicine.
Witt considers it vital to have correct alignment, control, posture and balance throughout your whole practice to avoid injury. T5T teaches energy breathing. While the original book emphasizes breathing, Witt realizes that many people do not know how to take a deep breath correctly.
After regularly practicing the rites, most student experience a significant increase in energy and feel calmer and less stressed. It tones muscles and even helps with depression and anxiety according to the book.
The theory works with the seven vortexes in the body. In ancient Chinese medicine vortexes are sort of magnetic energy centers that revolve at great speed. When all are revolving at the same speed, the body is said to be in good health. When one or more of them slow down, the book claims that loss of strength, old age and senility begin to set in almost immediately. The Rites are designed to get them spinning in accord.
CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN BEFORE BEGINNING THIS OR ANY NEW FITNESS AND/OR DIET ROUTINE. Start with three repetitions of each move, gradually increasing by two repetitions per week, until 21 repetitions of each is achieved.
- THE SPIN – Stand up tall with arms outstretched at sides. Arms should be horizontal with shoulders. Now spin clockwise, stopping if you begin to feel slightly dizzy. Do not overdo. If you begin to feel dizzy, stop and sit a moment before proceeding to the next Rite. Witt states that not everyone gets dizzy but even some T5T teachers have needed up to 6 months to build up to the 21 repetitions of the spin due to dizziness.
- LEG RAISE – Lie on a thick warm mat and place hands flat down, next to your body, alongside hips. (Keeping warm and comfortable was important to the Lamas who originated the moves.) Keep fingers close together with fingertips from each hand turned slightly toward each other. Now raise feet until legs are straight up. (The old version recommends letting the feet extend back a bit over the body, past the hips, toward the head. Witt warns not to put that strain on the lower back.) Only raise legs to position perpendicular to the floor. At the same time you raise your feet, also raise your head. Hold position for a moment or two, then slowly lower head and feet at the same time. Relax and let muscles relax a moment, then repeat. In the DVD, you will notice that there are 10 variations to this leg raise, with a new one every week for 10 weeks. It starts with only one leg raised at a time, with knee bent. Each of the moves is designed to strengthen core muscles, which will protect the lower back when the final version (described above) is performed.
- THIS SHOULD ALWAYS FOLLOW RITE # 2: Kneel on a comfortable mat with hands at sides and palms flat against the side of the legs. Now lean forward, bending at the waist, also tucking head until chin meets chest. The second position is to lean backward as far as possible, leading with the head, using toes to prevent you from tipping over. Ease back to the kneeling position and relax for a moment. Then perform the rite over again. T5T recommend that you NOT lean back as far as possible or lean back on the thighs. The also do not recommend the forward lean because the T5T method is to keeepthe hips aligned over the knees, to avoid unnecessary pressure on the joints. Keep the entire spine lengthened throughout the posture. Keep core muscles activated to protect your spine. Leaning back too far for some people could cause a kink, so again, do not overdo this move. T5T offers a beginners version. It shows how to keep lower back and neck “long and strong” to avoid compression.
- THE TABLE – Sit erect on your mat with feet straight out in front of you. Legs must be perfectly straight with backs of knees close to the mat. Place hands flat on mat next to hips, with fingers together, and hands slightly pointing outward, chin on chest, head forward. Second postion: Now carrying weight on arms and legs, gently raise the body, while bending knees so that from knee to foot is practically straight up and down. With arms also vertical, the body will be horizontal from shoulders to knees, (I liken it to becoming a table). T5T warns NOT to let head fall back below the rest of the body. Keep it straight and long. Hold a moment then return to the first position (seated). Relax a few moments before performing the Rite again. Do not expect to “make a perfect table” the first time. Start where you are; do what you can and watch your progress over the weeks to come. While older people may have more difficulty, persistence can pay off. (Colonel Bradford said he could barely do it when he began, but gained strength to perform 50 reps correctly, without feeling the slightest strain on nerves and muscles.)
- FINAL STRETCH – This will require strength and use of core muscles. (T5T offers beginner techniques via book or DVD at T5T.com.) According to T5T very heavy people should use extreme caution, until their weight has been greatly reduced. Place hands on floor, approximately two feet apart, with legs outstretched comfortably behind you, and feet also about two feet apart. Now push the body (the hips especially) up as far as you can, rising on the toes and hands, while at the same time, tucking head down so that the chin comes up against the chest. Next, allow the body to come down to “sort of a sagging position from shoulders to toes”, WITHOUT sagging. Tighten core muscles to protect against injury, keeping control of waist and back as you lower to this position carefully. Hold head up high and straight.