Lite Review: The Five Tibetans: Five Dynamic Exercises for Health, Energy, and Personal Power by Christopher S. Kilham

In the new edition of this small, but powerful book, Christopher S. Kilham introduces us to the Five Tibetans and the physical, mental and spiritual benefits of practicing these simple exercises on a regular basis. The author has been deeply involved with yoga for many years and in 1978, added the Five Tibetans to his teaching and daily yoga practice. Believed to be Tibetan in origin, they can be done alone or added to an existing yoga practice.

Known as the Medicine Hunter, Kilham supports environmental causes and has traveled the world researching traditional, plant-based medicines. As an author and educator, he has appeared on many television and radio programs. As a supporter of complementary medicine, Dr. Oz has featured him several times on his television show. In one episode, he and Dr. Oz perform the Five Tibetans together while he comments on the benefits of each exercise. The video is available on his website.

At a book event I attended last year at the Namaste Bookshop in Manhattan, I met the author and saw him demonstrate the Five Tibetans. He looked very fit and limber as he showed us how the exercises are performed.

In easy-to-follow instructions and photos, the author describes how the exercises should be performed. They can be done in only 10 minutes a day and practiced anywhere as they require no special equipment, tools or location. You start with 7-10 repetitions per exercise with the goal of working up to a maximum of 21 reps. It takes some practice to perform them correctly and initially I did only a few reps at a time. The author stresses that they should be done at your own pace until you become comfortable with them. The most challenging exercise for me was the first one, which involves spinning. I did it very slowly at first, and after a while no longer felt so dizzy. The exercises target the entire body and I noticed feeling more flexible and energized afterwards. The author states that:

“The purpose of practicing the Five Tibetans is to influence the chakras so they can function at peak activity and condition, in balance and harmony with each other.”

As a long-time yoga practitioner, the author also shares relevant information about the chakras, kundalini, yoganidra, pranayama and meditation. He points out that he modified the exercises to include breathing as the original source of the Five Tibetans did not include this information.

With only a minimal investment of time and effort required to do them, the Five Tibetans may just be the answer you are looking for as a mind/body practice.

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