The Ancient Tibetan Rites of Rejuvenation – The Secret of Youth

I was watching with interest this week a program called “100 Years Younger in 21 days” on ITV (UK).  In the program a handful of middle aged celebrities are trying to regain their youth whilst on retreat in Sardinia. At 91 years young, actress June Brown is the oldest contestant and how amazing she is.  Funny, witty, charismatic, and very sprightly for her age.

Whilst watching the program, June showed the other contestants her daily exercises which I immediately recognised as the five Tibetan Rites.  These exercises were also part of the daily routine of the late, great Bruce Forsyth who lived to the grand age of 89.

The five Tibetan Rites were first published in a book called “The Eye of Revelation” in 1939.  In the book Peter Kelder tells the story of meeting the mysterious Colonel Bradford who held the secrets of youth and longevity, through the performance of five simple exercises.  These came from a centuries old system of Tibetan exercises to remain youthful.  The Tibetan Rites are five basic simple motion exercises.

They are as follows, in brief (see also the diagram).

  • Rite 1: Stand erect with arms outstretched, horizontal with the shoulders.  Spin clockwise (left to right).  This can be built up over time as it can leave a person dizzy starting with three to five times, building up to a dozen.  After several months this can be built up to 20 but 12 is generally seen as the optimum amount of revolutions.
  • Rite 2: Lie down full length (on a rug or bed; I use the floor; yoga mats are good).  Place arms down the side of the body, hands flat by the side of the hips.  Raise the legs straight up in the air without bending the knees.  Hold for a moment or two, then lower the legs.  If strong enough, raise the head off the floor at the same time as raising the legs.  Lower head and legs gently, then complete rite again.
  • Rite 3: Kneel with body upright on the floor, use a rug or yoga mat.  Rest hands at side of legs.  Lean forward as far as possible with chin on chest.  Then move backwards as far as possible.  Then move back to the starting position.  Hands are kept by the side of the legs throughout this exercise.
  • Rite 4: Sit with the feet outstretched, place hands on floor by side of hips, hands pointing outwards slightly, chin on chest.  Now, raise the body and bend knees as doing so.  The ankles should be directly in line with the knees and the arms vertical under the shoulders (see diagram). The body from shoulder to knees should be horizontal.  Hold for a few moments then return to the starting position, before starting the rite again.
  • Rite 5: Adopt a “plank” position, lying on the floor, tummy down, Lift the shoulders off the floor so arms are vertical, legs outstretched, toes keeping contact with the floor.  Allow the body to sag, hold head up so it faces the ceiling.  Next push into a “Down dog” position, pushing the body and especially the hips to the ceiling.  Hold the hands flat on the floor, toes connected to the floor, legs straight but supple.  Tuck head between shoulders.  Hold this position for a few moments then return to the first position and perform the rite again.


It is recommended that rite one is done an optimum 12 times, and rites two to five are repeated initially three times each building to twenty-one repetitions.  The rites will initially take ten minutes to complete with three repetitions each and the full twenty-one repetitions can take thirty to forty minutes.  The whirling rite, number one, can be done as many times as one feels comfortable.

As with any exercises, please consult a doctor if you have health complaints or concerns and do not strain yourself.

The benefits to these exercises include increased physical fitness, weight loss, more energy and virility as well as other health benefits.

Having forgotten all about these exercises (life takes over!), I’m endeavouring to make them part of my daily routine again.  Thank you June for reminding me!!

  • Reference: Kelder, P., edited by Watt, J. W., (2008), The Eye of Revelation: The Ancient Tibetan Rites of Rejuvenation,, Inc., USA. Images taken from the original book.