As is usual with such things that are on the edges or fringe of experience, the "truthiness" of info about the procedures are questionable, but the rites themselves are well known, well documented and readily available, even if the history or information about whence they came is in question.

The canonical story about them is that a British Army Colonel back in the early 1900s encountered the then-untouched and therefore mystical "Orientalist" Tibet and learned there a sequence of movements, a kind of moving yoga that supposedly led to his hair regrowing in full and black, his stoop gone permanently until his death, and his required cane tossed away for good. He performed, documented and publicized these moves out of sheer gratitude.

Naturally, they're available from Gaiam and have been New Aged, but practical information about their effectiveness is objectively unknown.

To perform the rites, you are required to perform each of the five actions a minimum of three times, working up to a maximum of twenty one repetitions per rite, the number twenty one being a mystic number of perfection, or something. It is supposed to nourish various chakras, which correspond to "glands" in our modern understanding.

  • The first rite: Stand with your arms extended, and spin in place, akin to a whirling dervish, moving left to right. Stop the moment you get slightly dizzy, but work to twenty one revolutions.
  • The second rite: Lie on a prayer rug face-up, with your arms by your sides. Raise your legs at the hips until they are perpendicular to the ground, and then raise your head from the floor. Lower your legs back to the ground under control. It is, in essence, a lying leg raise.
  • The third rite: Kneel on the prayer rug, with your body upright and perpendicular to the floor. Put your ams to your sides and press your hands into your thighs or buttocks. Lean slightly forward and let your head roll forward, and then perform a bend backwards, where the back meets the pelvis. The toes are a balance point that prevent you from falling completely backwards. Return to an upright position. It is a slight kneeling back bend.
  • The fourth rite: Sit on the prayer rug, with your feet in front of you and your legs straight, hands pressed to the floor each side of your hips. Thrust your hips forward and upward until your feet are flat on the floor and your lower legs are perpendicular to the ground. In the final position, your trunk and head are parallel to the foor, like a table with your arms and lower legs as the legs of that table. Drop your hips and return to a seated position.
  • The fifth rite: Start in a "downward dog" position, similar to a "pushup" position but with your buttocks high in the air, forming an inverted "V" with your body, resting your weight on the balls of your feet and your hands. Rock downwards until your body is flat on the foor, bending upwards at the lower back with your head pointing skyward, similar to the "cobra" position. Swing backward and upward back into the initial position.

Whether you get the "mental clarity" or the rejuvenation effects that some have ascribed to this is a huge case of "your mileage may vary". However, as exercise, this is an excellent example of a "flow yoga", which science HAS demonstrated is one of the best fat-burning exercises ever. Although from an exercise science perspective I'm not sure what the spinning in place does, it does appear to be an excellent combination of a core workout, a workout involving the glutes and hamstrings, ending in a known builder for the chest and triceps. It won't improve static flexibility as classical yoga would, but it does appear to work the entire body along a range of motion, making them an excellent set of calisthenics regardless of your views on esoterica.


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