Turning in Circles

When was the last time you turned in circles and then stopped to breathe until the world stopped spinning? A few days ago, I was at my son’s sitting outside with our in-laws who are visiting from New York State. Hannah, my granddaughter, just turned two and she was playing around us. Then she came over to the three of us sitting together, her grandparents, and said:

Gama (that’s me) stand up. Memee, stand up. Poppy stand up. Now, turn.

With that, she put her arms out and began to turn in circles and, of course, we did the same. We all laughed and turned and the world was filled with love and joy. Throughout the afternoon, Hannah would stop what she was doing and come over and  repeat her instructions to us. Each time we followed her lead. So much fun!

This morning during my yoga/meditation practice I remembered that spinning is one of the Rites of Rejuvenation practiced by Buddhist monks. Five of these were brought out of Tibet as a gift to the world. These are known as The Five Tibetans and the first one we do in this practice is spinning. Google The Five Tibetans if you are interested in specifics.

Our Hannah loves to spin. I decided it is time to teach her to recognize when to stop so she doesn’t fall and hurt herself. So, the last time she was “turning” as she calls it, I coached her to sit when she gets “that” feeling. Her Mommy has taught her to breathe slowly when she gets confused or upset so I reminded her of that slow, deep breath. There is a reason this 2 year old already intuitively knows the benefits of spinning consciously and now she will know how to do it safely and wisely. So much more fun than telling her to stop!

Care to take a spin? Stand up. Put your arms out and feel your breath. Level your chin and lower your eyes as you imagine a big circle on the earth around you. Gaze softly at that circle as you turn and keep your head centered. Start with 7 turns at a comfortable speed. Stop and place your hands on your hips, eyes still on the circle, breathe.

For those of you whose ears get congested or who have vertigo when flying, etc., you can still do this but very carefully. I would suggest being just close enough to a counter or chair that you can easily put a hand out if needed. Also, begin with just 2 or 3 turns and go very very slowly, keeping your head and eyes steady – no “ballet turns” please! – with your gaze on the floor/earth out in front of you.

If you are not too dizzy and you recover quickly, you can try going faster. Then you can build the number of times you go around. In The Five Tibetans, the maximum number recommended is 21 but you gain benefit at whatever number up to that you can comfortably do.


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