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Yoga Sequences

The Five Elements of Tibetan Lu Jong and Your Yoga Practice

The most common beginner form of Tibetan Yoga is Lu Jong, or “body training.” Experience it's natural connection the elements in these sequences.

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The most common beginner form of Tibetan Yoga is Lu Jong, or “body training.” Lu Jong is different from hatha yoga in that it perceives the body to be a vehicle to enlightenment and not something to transcend, explains Lharampa Tenzin Kalden, a Buddhist monk and Tibetan meditation teacher. But like hatha, “It helps us get rid of anger, attachment, and other negative emotions,” he explains. Start this Lu Jong practice, from Kalden’s teacher, Tulku Lama Lobsang, with a cleansing breath called Lung Ro Sel. Inhale and draw your palms up from your belly to your head; exhale, turn your palms over, and push them back down to your belly, exhaling any stale energy. Between each sequence that follows, take several cleansing Lung Ro Sel breaths.

See also The Connection Between Nature’s Five Elements and Yoga

1. Space

Tibetan yoga space element keith allen

Tibetan Goose Drinking Water

Stand with your legs spread wide, and bring your hands to your waist, fingers on your back and thumbs forward. On an inhale, fold forward with a long spine, maintaining space between each vertebra and making sure the neck is a natural extension of the spine and not compressed. Exhale to come back to standing and take a gentle backbend, lifting the heart. Repeat 6 more times.

See also Purifying the Five Elements of Our Being

2. Earth

earth element keith allen

Wild Yak Rubbing Its Shoulder

From a wide-legged stance, turn your right toes out 90 degrees and bring your left toes in slightly. With hands on your waist, this time with fingers to the front and your thumbs back, inhale, bend your right knee so it’s over your right ankle, and move your left shoulder toward that knee. Exhale, come up, and pivot to set up for the other side (shown here), inhaling to fold forward and twist. Repeat 6 more times.

See also Elemental Yoga: An Earthy Sequence to Ground Vata

3. Wind

wind element keith allen

Wild Horse Lying Down

With your feet hip-distance apart, turn your right toes out 90 degrees and your left toes slightly in, as if about to move into Parsvottanasana (Intense Side Stretch Pose). Inhale to move your left elbow to your right knee; exhale to come back up. Pivot on your feet and repeat on the left side (shown here). Take 6 more rounds.

See also Elemental Yoga: An Airy Asana Sequence to Balance Kapha

4. Fire

fire element keith allen

Falcon Turning in the Wind

From standing, bring your feet together and return your hands to your waist, with thumbs forward and fingers on your back. Just like in Tibetan Goose Drinking Water, inhale to fold forward, and exhale to come back up and take a slight backbend. Repeat 6 more times.

See also Elemental Yoga: A Fire-Moving Yoga Practice for Pitta

5. Water

water element keith allen

New Mountain Rising

Extend your arms in front of you and turn the left hand so the thumb is facing down. Then, place the back of your right hand in your left palm and curl the left fingers around it. (If this isn’t possible, keep the left fingers straight.) Inhale and stretch your arms alongside your ears; exhale to bring the hands down toward your navel. Do this 6 more times, then switch the clasp of your hands and repeat a final 7 times.

See also The Mayan Five Elements and Your Yoga Practice

Where to Learn
Access to Tibet and teachers of these traditions is still limited. It’s better to explore in the neighboring Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan with Ian Baker. The expert on Tibet leads trips there with Tibetan and Bhutanese lamas. Journeys include practices and initiations at sacred sites (ianbakerjourneys.com).

Or for a five-star Tibetan Yoga and healing experience, visit The Alpina Gstaad and Six Senses Spa in Switzerland. Twice a year, this luxury hotel invites Lharampa Tenzin Kalden for private and semi-private meditation and yoga sessions. And the spa’s lead therapist is trained in Tibetan healing treatments, including massage and alpine herbal poultices (thealpinagstaad.ch).

Model Keith Allen is a Boulder, Colorado–based vinyasa teacher.