Yogas that are gentle yet profound


For classes and programs at the Centre for Compassion and Wisdom in Burlington, Ontario Canada, please click here.

5 Tibetan Yogas facilitators are listed below and classes by certified facilitators are now being taught in Canada, England, Scotland, and USA. In 2011, facilitators will be trained in France. Instructions have been translated in Italian as well.

What are the 5 Tibetan Yogas?

by Dekyi-Lee Oldershaw The Five Tibetan Yogas can make a profound impact on your health, mental clarity and happiness. They have been a key part of my spiritual and physical practice since 1984 and I have been introduced to two different versions of them. I was first introduced to them through a book that I found in a yard sale called The Ancient Secret of the Fountain of Youth by Peter Kelder. Intuitively, I knew it was important for me to do the exercises.

In 2004, after 7 years as a Tibetan Buddhist nun, I was incredibly fortunate to be taught these yogas by ZaChoeje Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist master from Drepung Monastery (Gelugpa Tradition) in India, who also teaches in USA. He introduced differences in how he felt they should be taught - the sequence and the many subtle levels and foundations that underlay them. Taught in their entirety, they are a complete integrated practice that gently transform and balance every level of our systems from our physical body to the most subtle root thoughts that influence our attitudes.

The story from the book stated that in the 1920’s, a British Colonel spent years investigating why Tibetan lamas maintained their health, flexibility, longevity and mental alertness so incredibly. He returned home looking twenty years younger than when he had left Britain! And he brought with him a short well-rounded series of five yoga exercises. The ultimate result of following the program was supposed to be a greater flexibility of body and mind leading to all-round better health, more peace, happiness, and longer life. He primarily taught these easy stretches to people over sixty years of age to prove his theory of the Tibetan ‘anti-aging’ methods. In 1939, his colleague, wrote the book to teach others how to do the exercises. Since then, the hatha yoga movement has adopted them with variations on Kilder’s book. 

In 1990, while living in Scotland at the Findhorn Foundation, an ecumenical spiritually-based centre, I met a remarkably fit man in his 60‘s of exceptional physical and cardiovascular strength. I asked him how he had managed to achieve this. His answer? "You won't believe this, but I only spend fifteen to twenty minutes each day." I wondered, "Could it be?" "You are not doing those Five Tibetan exercises are you?" He laughed "Yes, that is all I have done!" That certainly got me practicing them again. And again my commitment to them lagged over time.

In my sixth year of studying and living the life of a Tibetan Buddhist nun, I asked one of my lamas/teachers for advice. I needed help when I was in retreats from three weeks to three months duration, to relieve the inner pressure in my chest from a common problem for Western meditators - trying too hard. Coming from an athletic background, attempting not to try was still too much effort! This can unbalance the subtle nervous systems, leading to illness. He advised me to talk with a rare Western monk and nun that had completed three years in solitary retreat and had overcome these same problems. I followed my lama’s advice and sought out the nun, Venerable Nyinje, who has now completed 7 years in retreat. When she told me, "We both did these exercises called The Five Tibetans," I could only laugh. Here, the same exercises from the initial book were again being used to help with the subtlest levels of transformation.

Za Choeje Rinpoche's yogas...the differences

In May 2004, I was finally formally taught the exercises from Za Choeje Rinpoche, an accomplished lama from Drepung Monastery in India. He now also lives and works in USA. He did the exercises in a different order and as a more flowing form of yoga. He focused on 5 yogas and 5 levels, from our physical body to subtle imprints in our mind, that the yogas affect. Each yoga also balances one of the 5 elements that are being balanced and transforms 5 states of mind that cause suffering, which are transformed through visualisation while doing the yogas. Now explanations of subtle aspects of our inner energy systems and what each exercise balances and transforms in integrated in to each class.

The 5 Forces of Tibetan Buddhist practice are also integrated into each class. These provide you, whether Buddhist or not, with a complete integrated practice for life that will strengthen your own philosophical views and your body and is the basis for gradually becoming more kind, wise and happy. Along with my years of study and meditation, now I truly understood why, when the yogas include these additional levels, they work so profoundly and how the foundations, which centuries ago used to be secret teachings, could increase the benefits of doing them.

I now teach it in ways we will not find in the several books on these exercises. They are a perfect accompaniment to meditation practice, Tai Chi, Pilates and will benefit anyone with physical limitations, or not enough time to do other longer yoga classes or gym workouts. While they were initially given to yogis to harmonize their bodies and minds so that they could enter into deeper meditative states, as well as the physical benefits, they uncover the potential for anyone to discover the stillness and spaciousness within ourselves, thus leaving us more joy-filled and accepting of life as it presents itself.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche, the spiritual director of FPMT, The Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition, asked me to train facilitators in Buddhist centres so that committed meditators as well as complete beginners with no thoughts of becoming Buddhist could still benefit. Along with certified facilitators, who are holding the integrity of the yogas that Za Choeje Rinpoche taught to me, we are now teaching programs specifically for adults, children, youth, seniors, professional athletes, those with problems with weight, cancer support, special needs (wheelchair and aquatic adaptations), in schools, cancer centres, the YMCA, recreation centres, universities, and even in our largest army base. Profound changes have been documented mentally as well as physically. Dekyi-Lee Oldershaw


Za Choeje Rinpoche with His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Za Choeje Rinpoche was born in 1968 in India and recognized by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, as the reincarnation of Zachoeje Lama in 1984. The first Zachoeje was the founder of all the 13 Gelugpa Monasteries in the Tehor region of Eastern Tibet, and was seen as the leader, not only spiritually, but also supporting the people and community in many ways. Since then, all of the reincarnates of Zachoeje have continued in his steps by providing for the needs of the people until 1959. Unfortunately, the previous Fifth Zachoeje was arrested by the Chinese Military and held in prison for 4 years and died in 1962.

Dekyi-Lee Oldershaw

Dekyi-Lee Oldershaw received the teaching of the Five Tibetan Yogas from Zachoeje Rinpoche. Formerly Losang Dekyi, a Tibetan Buddhist nun for 7 years, she is a student of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and is affiliated with the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition. Her teachers also include Kyabje Thubten Zopa Rinpoche, Geshe Tashi Tsering, Denma Locho Rinpoche and Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche. She has conducted retreats and courses with several of these highly realized masters in Australia and New Zealand and now resides in Burlington, Ontario, Canada and teaches around the world.

In order to make the profound blend of compassion and wisdom of more benefit, Lama Zopa Rinpoche specifically requested Dekyi-Lee to teach principles of compassion and wisdom in a secular language, supported by science. For 20 years, she has been teaching and training on the healing and transformative power of the mind, presenting profound principles in simple, experiential ways so that they create positive changes for anyone. She has taught her healing methods in medical, education, art, social services areas and for trained professionals in Australia, Canada and Europe. In the 1970’s and 80’s, she was also a Canadian national level athlete and coach in flatwater racing kayaking.

Dekyi-Lee and certified facilitators teach the Five Tibetan Yogas. Available classes can be found in the Events and Counselling page.