The Wheel of Fortune is a symbol of the capricious nature of fate. Sometimes we are like Imagine Dragons sing, "on top of the world". Sometimes we are at the bottom of the wheel looking for an upswing. The goddess Fortuna is said to spin this wheel at random, and thus why it may feel like quite suddenly our luck can turn for the better or worse. Ancient Indian art depicts a wheel called "The Wheel of Becoming" (Bhavacakra) which represents samsara or cyclical existence. Used in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism, the word is derived of two words, "bhava" and "cakra". Bhava means worldly existence, birth, becoming, origin and Cakra or chakra means wheel. This wheels consists of elements or layers that relate to elements of human existence. Without going into too much detail, the bhavacakra presents us with poisons (ignorance, attachment, aversion), karma, layers of samsara, impermanence, and liberation. For more general information visit my sources below.
Last week quite unexpectantly and with no known source, I came down with Covid (again, within 6 months of my last bout). I quickly rearranged my schedule and prepared to take care of myself and lie low. During that same week, I was informed that one of the classes that I have held dear for about 4 years would be given another teacher. It wasn't necessarily my teaching, but the fact that the number of attendees coming to the class were lower than needed to run the class with me as a teacher. I felt defeated on both counts. My body was feeling sick and sore, my mind was distorted from the virus, I could not work, and I have just lost a class that meant a lot to me. So, I did what I always do in these times, I turned to yoga. When I needed to move and stretch my joints, I did a simple practice. I meditated. I took care of myself and others around me. I took time in the sun and in nature. With subtle sadness, I released my attachment to that particular class feeling things open to new possibilities. I welcomed the impermanence of the sickness that had taken over me.
In these moments, the wheel turned and I began to feel that sense of awakening and discovery. These series of events were not Fortuna spinning her hand, but Bhavacakra reminding me to look deeper within myself to better understand karma (action), attachments, impermanence and liberation from it all. I returned to the yoga studios this week, refreshed and awakened to deeper possibilities within myself and others.
How can this translate to parenting?
There are moments in parenting that do not feel like "wins" at the beginning. Whether it's a struggle with breastfeeding or working with your toddler on taking care of their belongings or a call from the police about your teenager, these events can feel like major setbacks in parenting. There have been times in my own parenting, where I feel defeated, frustrated, and completely alone. If we consider these times under the context of bhavacakra we may be able to view them from another lens. Perhaps these are the times we are asked to let go of expectations (attachments), consider our own actions, realize the cycles of life, and understand that these moments will pass. It's how we approach these times that may be the most meaningful of all. Maybe it's not about making lemonade out of our "lemons", but taste the bitterness, let go, and trust the process.
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Toddlers are a special group. As they rapidly learn about the world around them, they can go from happy-go-lucky or sweet to a puddle of tears or an anger burst in just seconds. Toddlers have short-attention spans and tend to run from one thing to the other quickly.
If you practice yoga and wish to share your love of the practice with your toddler, you may be in for some rewards and challenges. Creating a short home practice with your toddler can be tremendously rewarding both as a bonding experience and for a new, fresh way to "play" with your child. Keeping your child engaged and finding an ideal time can be the challenge. Below are some tips to approaching the practice. I offer Toddler Yoga in Middlesex County for those of you local to Massachusetts. Visit HERE for more info. Not local? Reach out to me HERE, and I'll get you on the mailing list for a new program starting July 1.
Tips for a Toddler Yoga Practice
Be ready to move the practice off the mat - Toddlers tend to like to move around the room or the house if you are at home. Keep the practice moving along wherever your child may roam, or choose one room for practice. You won't even really need a mat.
Songs, Toys & More - Toddlers I work with typically like to sing songs, dance, move around, and play with toys during their practice. Anything that lights up is even better. Making your practice fun and playful will keep them engaged and interested.
Short & Sweet - Keep your practice to around 10 minutes to start. In a studio setting, we can just barely keep toddlers engaged for 30-40 minutes. Starting small with some breathing, a few poses, and a story is a great way to get your toddler interested.
Let's Get Physical - If you have a toddler you already know that they love to jump on you and pretend your gym equipment. Partner poses can bring the two (or three or four) of you together. They get to play physically while also learning how to work as a team.
Snuggle Time - Don't skip rest time at the end of practice! Even if it's just for a minute or two, your toddler will learn how to calm their bodies through rest. Add a head or foot massage and enhance bonding with your child.
Have fun, and enjoy! Let me know how it goes!
As a writer and a mom of 3, I have found that making time to write has been a process that has sometimes been successful and has often faltered. I have tried it all. Writing in short bursts, writing early in the morning, writing late at night, bullet writing, giving up on writing, or simply fantasizing about writing. Perhaps you are not necessarily a "writer" but would like to devote time to charting your child's progress and next steps or you are pregnant and would like to journal your pregnancy for your child to read later. I can tell you that it's all possible. It may not be easy, but it's possible. Below are some tips to make time for writing or journaling.
Quick Tips for Success
As the third trimester approaches, many of the Moms I work with begin to turn inward. This inward reflection begins to stir up either strengths or doubt about the birthing process. In a prenatal yoga practice we discuss this time, then move and breathe in ways to support strength, release in the pelvic floor, as well as the mind, and at times discovering courage. Some cultures believe during birth a mother transcends life to bring her baby into the world.
In the Western culture, birth is largely cloaked in fear. Movies depict women screaming in agony or reacting violently to something that is a natural series of events. In actuality, birthing a child is an extreme act of strength, resilience, and empowerment for women.
Decisions (as opinions) are plentiful around childbirth. In prenatal yoga, we foster an accepting practice that allows each student to make the best decision around movement, breath, and ultimately bringing your child into the world. The two poses pictures above are examples of ways to access the physical body and mind to build that strength and guide the body to relax to prepare for childbirth. Poses can be taken anytime in pregnancy. Six weeks prior to your due date may be a time to work these poses into a daily practice. Below is a description of each pose. Try them out, and let me know what you think.
View the POSES on YouTube.
Rocking Childs Pose
Come to all 4's (tabletop pose), then bring knees wider than the hips with toes coming together. Keep shoulders in line with wrists, then rock the hips about half way back to heels, then ease them forward again. Continue to rock allowing the hips to get heavier as you work. Feel free to pause in childs or rest on forearms at any time. This pose is soothing for body and mind and helps relax the pelvis.
Come to all 4's (table top pose). Widen the knees slightly with toes pointing back behind you. Swing hips to one side, back to heel, sweep to opposite heel, to the side and forward. Imagine you are drawing a circle on your mat or floor. Reverse the direction. You can pause anytime you want for extra stretch or space. This pose guides your baby into the optimal position for birth, and can even be done during birth.
Hi, I'm Valerie Kacian! I am a mom of three and a yoga teacher. I am also a writer who doesn't write enough. This is my way of giving you the answers you are looking for and also to keep in touch with my first baby, writing.