The 5+ Tibetans -FAQs

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Questions

  1. What can I do if my wrists hurt when I press into my hands?
  2. My neck hurts when I let my head go back. What can I do?
  3. Do I need to do the same number of repetitions for each exercise?
  4. My shoulders hurt when I do crab lifts. What can I do?
  5. My back hurts when I do leg raises. What can I do?
  6. I am so weak. How can I ever get to do 21 repetitions of these?
  7. I get very dizzy dong the first exercise. What can I do?
  8. My knees hurt in the Camel. What can I do?
  9. My low back hurts in some exercises. Is this normal? What can I do?
  10. When I try the sixth rite - Uddyana Bandha, I can’t get my belly in like the DVD shows. What am I doing wrong?
  11. Does the practice of the sixth rite require sexual abstinence?

What can I do if my wrists hurt when I press into my hands?

First of all, make sure that you apply pressure on all of the palm, starting with the fleshy part of the thumb, then the base of the index finger and, finally, the webbing between the other fingers. There should be very little pressure on the wrist itself.
If the issue is lack of flexibility in the wrist, you can try either (or both) of these modifications.
  • Put a small wedge under the wrists (a folded face cloth will do) and gradually reduce the thickness of it as the wrist gets more flexible.
  • Turn the hands outwards and, over time, gradually move them back towards facing forward.
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My neck hurts when I let my head go back. What can I do?

Honour the pain signals from your body: it is saying: ‘DANGER!”. Find ways to modify the exercise so that, over time, the neck loosens and can arc back safely.

First of all, make sure that you intentionally lengthen the neck out of the shoulders and drop the shoulders down BEFORE you let the head go back with a long arc in the back of the neck. You should feel a nice stretch at the front of the throat.

If that does not resolve the issue, only let the head go as far back as is comfortable while keeping the neck long.

If the neck hurts at the slightest back bend, lengthen the neck up and tuck the chin towards the chest while you do the exercise.

You might also inquire into remedial exercises to gently stretch the neck and shoulder muscles and relieve pressure at the back of the cervical spine.

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Do I need to do the same number of repetitions for each exercise?

No. Build up to 21 repetitions for each individual exercise. Depending on your condition, progress might be much faster for certain exercises than for others.

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My shoulders hurt when I do crab lifts. What can I do?

Make sure that you engage the shoulders by pressing the hands into the ground and rolling the shoulder blades down and towards each other. This will ensure that you are not “hanging on the ligaments”. In the correct starting position, the buttocks should hardly be touching the ground.

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My back hurts when I do leg raises. What can I do?

Make sure that you are keeping the lower back flat on the ground as you bring the legs up. The best way to do this is by bringing the chin up towards the chest and engaging the abdominal muscles BEFORE you start moving the legs up.

If that still does not work, bend the knees as much as you need to as you bring the legs up. As you build up the strength, gradually straighten the legs as you bring them up.

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I am so weak. How can I ever get to do 21 repetitions of these exercises?

Be patient and build up your strength over time. One possibility is to modify the exercise(s) as required and build up to 21 modified repetitions. Then gradually remove the modifications as your abilities increase.

Watch out for “mind stuff” that may get in the way (I could NEVER do more than 7 of these if my life depended on it!). Have an open mind and trust that these exercises will slowly build up your physical (and mental) strength.

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I get very dizzy dong the first exercise. What can I do?

It is quite normal to feel dizzy (and even nauseous) as a result of the whirling exercise. At first, spin quite slowly and stop as soon as dizziness sets in. Then perform 2 deep “O Breaths” to ground yourself: the dizziness should disappear after the second breath.

Make sure that you keep the eyes fixed on a point while you spin. That could be a distant point that you bring the eyes back to quickly as you spin around. It could also be a very focussed stare at the nail of the middle finger of the right hand so that nothing else matters.

Gradually build up to 21 slow repetitions over a period of a few weeks; then increase the speed slowly. It is normal to sometimes have a slight remaining nausea for a few hours (you probably went too fast for what your system could handle on that day).

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My knees hurt in the Camel. What can I do?

When you kneel down, make sure that the knees are hip width apart.

If the knees are still not OK with the weight on the kneecaps, put some padding under them (a folded towel or a cushion work well).
If the knees hurt when you move, make sure that the hips come slightly in front of the knees when you lean back. You may have to restrict how far back you go until the quads are stretched enough to minimize the pull on the kneecaps.

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My low back hurts in some exercises. Is this normal? What can I do?

There should be NO PAIN in the lower back in the Camel or the Upward Facing Dog (or any other back bend exercise).

You need to make sure that the lower back is flat and lengthened by scooping the tailbone between the buttocks and lifting the pubic bone towards the navel BEFORE leaning back. You will feel the belly and the thighs engage.

Only go as deep into the back bend as you can without any pain in the low back, engaging the abdominals and thighs to support the spine. Build up the strength slowly and safely.

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When I try Uddyana Bandha, I can’t get my belly in like the DVD shows. What am I doing wrong?

Pulling up the diaphragm like the DVD shows may take a few months of practice. Your brain has to figure out that the diaphragm can actually be relaxed voluntarily. Here are a few tips to get there:
  • Practice Agni Sara Dhauti (the Abdominal pumping) to build the required coordination and to stretch the diaphragm.
  • Before, you come up, make sure that the lungs are totally empty by pulling in the belly, collapsing the chest and rounding the back.
  • As you come up, focus on lengthening the front of the body, expanding the chest up as if you were breathing in (but don’t let any air in).
  • Relax around the sensations at the base of the rib cage and in the throat while holding the lungs empty.
  • Do not be surprised to feel a slight pull at the front of the spine just above the navel as the diaphragm is sucked up by the vacuum in the lungs and pulls on the attachment points at L3 and L2 and on the 12th ribs (that is a clear sign of progress).


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Does the practice of the sixth rite require sexual abstinence?

There are indeed many texts that suggest that sexual abstinence and a vegetarian diet are prerequisites to the practice of the sixth rite.  Most of these texts seem to come from Kelder's book (published around 1940) which, in my view, represent the culture of those days.

However, this exercise is also found in many texts on tantric or Taoist sexuality.  Its goal is to train us to better manage sexual energy so that it can be harnessed for spiritual goals by getting it to rise towards higher chakras.

These texts even suggest that men should learn to "ejaculate up the spine" during orgasm rather than down and out.  This is akin to the rise of Kundalini energy along the Soshumna nadi.

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