Always Be Dancing

Yoga and Flamenco for Every/body & Mindful Book Reviews By Eve


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Meditation: Getting Started

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How does one start to meditate? I started meditating about 5 years ago. I wanted to start before that but just never sat down on my own and meditated. When I started, I had little knowledge of “how-to” meditate. I thought you needed to sit absolutely still, in total silence and think of nothing. Yeah….you can guess how well that went.

But overtime, it seemed to take hook. I was never sure if I was meditating correctly and often felt I was not doing it right or well, but I stuck at it and it stuck to me. First, I found that I needed to meditate in the morning, because if I waited until later in the day, it did not get done. So every morning, after I made breakfast for my son, I would sit on the other sofa and meditate…listening to him munch his bagel and gulp his milk. I felt like a pro! Look at me sitting here, not moving, blocking out the sounds around me….but I still felt like I was not doing it right and it was not “affecting” or “effecting” me correctly.  But I stuck to it. And it stuck to me. It was oddly satisfying and if I did not do it, I felt like I was missing something that I wanted. My brain wanted it. My body wanted it. My soul wanted it.

Enter Kundalini. In Kundalini, everything is organized and makes sense. The exercises have aim and purpose and are felt physically, mentally and energetically. There are physical movements or stillness encased by specific breathing patterns, chants and mudras. This allows for the seeing, the hearing and the sensing of of what’s happening  within minutes of starting a practice. The truth is in the doing. Here form really follow function. Kundlini fits all bodies, all sizes, all adaptations without getting lost in the “what my body should look like” thoughts. 

Also, Kundlini is a gold mine when it comes to varied meditations. Kundalini offers metal, physical and emotional distractions that ope the gateway for meditation that is wholly enjoyable and accessible. 

     Two Meditations to Start Your Journey:

                            Kirtan Kriya/ Sa Ta Na Ma Meditation

Kirtan Kriya, often referred to as SA TA NA MA meditation, is the most important meditation in Kundalini Yoga. If you can do only one meditation, this is it. It will readjust and align you to bring balance into your body, mind and spirit and thus your life. It is your teacher. It is your best friend. 

The bottom line is that this meditation works. All you have to do is do it. You can trust the process and the technology.

Directions:

Sit with a straight spine. Bring your mental focus to the brow point/3rd eye point.

Chant SA TA NA MA.

While chanting alternately press the thumb with the four fingers. Press hard enough to keep yourself awake and aware of the pressure. Keep repeating in a stable rhythm and keep the hand motion going throughout the whole meditation.

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SA press the thumb and the pointer or Jupiter finger together with pressure.
TA press the thumb and the middle or Saturn finger together.
NA press the thumb and the ring or Sun finger together.
MA press the thumb and the pinky or Mercury finger together.

The Jupiter/Pointer finger brings in knowledge, expands our field of possibilities and releases us from limitations.

The Saturn/Middle finger gives us patience, wisdom and purity.

The Sun/Ring finger gives us vitality and aliveness.

The Mercury/Pinky finger aids clear communication.

Visualize or feel each individual sound come in the crown chakra at the top of the head, down through the middle of the head and out to infinity through the third eye. This is very important and must be done with each sound. It is an essential part of the cleansing process. If this part of the meditation is not done, you may experience a headache.

While doing the meditation, you may experience pictures of the past come up like on a movie screen in your mind. Let them dance in front of your eyes and release them with the mantra. This is part of the cleansing of the subconscious mind. If emotions come up, you can also incorporate them in the chanting, i.e. if you feel anger then chant out the anger. Whatever you experience is OK. Do not try to avoid or control your experiences. Simply be with what is going on and go through it. It is all part of the cleansing process.

** Sa Ta Na Ma Meditation is becoming scientifically recognized as a powerful tool for preventing or stopping Alzheimer’s disease, increasing all aspects of cognitive function, (perception, thinking, reasoning and remembering) and reducing stress levels while improving short term memory.

                                          Morning Meditation

6 minutes version:

  • 1 min out-loud
  • 1 min whisper
  • 2 min in-head (can add tongue movements) with hand movements
  • 1 min whisper
  • 1 min out-loud.

This meditation can be done for 6-31 minutes. Just keep all the segments equal length (the silent section is repeated twice). It can really be done for as little as 3 minutes (30 sec, 30 sec, 1 min, 30 sec, 30 sec)

31 minute version:

  • 5 min out loud
  • 5 min whisper
  • 10 min in-head (tongue moving) with hand movement
  • 5 min whisper
  • 5 min out-loud
  • [1 min listen inside, hear the mantra, experience it. No hand movements.]

                                        Evening Meditation

                                      Sa Ta Na Ma Variation

3-30 minutes

Rest hands in lap. Fingers interlaced with the pads of the thumbs pressing into each other

Rest eyes gently looking at tip of nose; eyes may close.

Sniff in 4-counts, mentally saying Sa-Ta-Na-Ma.

Hold breath while mentally repeating the mantra 4 times.

Breath out through the nose in two strokes while mentally chanting Wahe/Guru. (Wahe/Wow! + Guru/Inner teacher = Cheers to my inner super hero!)

To end: Breath in for the count of 4. Hold breath for the count of 7. Breathe out through a circle mouth, making a whooshing sound, for the count of 8. Repeat 4-8x.

                                          Practice Timing:

3 minutes: Affects your circulation, blood chemistry and stability of the blood. The increased blood circulations begins, distributing enhanced neuroendocrine secretions throughout the body.

7 minutes: Brain patterns start to shift from the static of beta waves, to calmer alpha waves and ultimately to deep relaxing delta waves. Simultaneously, the magnetic force surrounding the body increases in strength.

11 minutes: The pituitary gland, glandular system and the nerves start to learn and change. The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems begin to accommodate the increased energy.

22 minutes: Anxiety producing thoughts in the subconscious begin to clear. Your three minds (negative, positive, and neutral) start to work together so your mental integration changes. 22 is the infinite number of longing and gives mastery of the mental realm.

31 minutes: Affects your whole mind and your aura. Endocrinological balance is achieved, as is balance of the chakra’s of the ethereal body. This balance persists throughout the day, and is reflected by changes in moods and behavior.

                                            Amount of days: 

11 days: 11 is the number of Infinity in the material world and conqueror of the physical realm. So it’s like the first step to break loose from the entanglement of the mind.

40 days: Helps to break negative habits that block you from the expansion possible through the Kriya or mantra, if done 40 days straight in a row

90 days: When you practice the Kriya or mantra for 90 days straight it will establish a new habit in your conscious and subconscious mind. It will change you in a very deep way.

120 days: When you commit to practice the Kriya or mantra for 120 days without skipping a day it will confirm the new habit of consciousness. The positive benefits of the Kriya get integrated permanently into your psyche.

1000 days: This will allow you to master the new habit of consciousness that the Kriya or mantra has promised. No matter what the challenge, you can call on this new habit to serve you.


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16 Picture Books on The Mind for the K-5 Classroom

A Girl Like Tilly: Growing Up With Autism by Helen Bates

Alphabreaths by Christopher Willard & Daniel Rechtchaffen

Angry Octopus by Lori Lite

Angry Octopus: Color Me Happy, Color Me Calm by Lori Lite

Glad Monster, Sad Monster by Ed Emberley

Go Away Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley

I Can Do Hard Things by Gabi Garcia

My Book of Feelings by Tracey Ross

Our Brains Are Like Computers by Joel Shaul

Robin And The White Rabbit: A Story To Hep Children With Autism to Talk About their Feelings and Join In by Åse Brunnström & Emma Lindström

The Adventures of Your Brain by Dan Green

The Brain: Our Nervous System by Seymour Simon

The Girl Who Thought In Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin by Julia Finley Mosca

The Rhino Who Swallowed A Storm by LeVar Burton & Susan Schaefer Bernardo

Winston Wallaby Won’t Stop Bouncing: What to Do about Hyperactivity in Children Including Those with ADHD, SPD and ASD by Joy Beaney and Kay Al-Ghani

Your Fantastic Elastic Brain: Stretch It, Shape It by JoAnn Deak, Ph.D.

Titles are linked to reviews that I have written. All opinions are my own.


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Mindful Book Reviews by Eve: Winston Wallaby Can’t Stop Bouncing: what to do about hyperactivity in children including those with ADHA, SPD and ASD by K.I. Al-Ghani and Joy Beaney

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Another great book from author K.I Al-Ghani (this time with Joy Beaney) and illustrated by Haitham Al-Ghani. Right off the bat, I was taken with the boldly outlined cartoon-like images that are presented in a frame-by-frame format. This is so effective and the drawings are so expressive that words are not even needed. Also, I think it is really fun that the main character is a wallaby!

The overlying message of this book is that it is OK to be you and that inclusion is cool. The book makes what many people think of as not the norm, the norm, and that acceptance is the way to go. I love that. There are so many effective, adaptive ideas offered in the book to help those with ADHD/SPD/ASD find peace, a way to express themselves that others can hear and for others to be open-eared, compassionate and friendly. This is a great book. Everyone should read it and share it. Above all our differences, we are all the same, humans,  with a right to live our lives as we are. Be caring! Be kind! Be creative! That’s cool!


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Mindful Book Reviews by Eve: Late summer reviews of books from Singing Dragon & Jessica Kingsley Publishers

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Robin And The White Rabbit: A story to help children with Autism to talk about their feelings and join in by Emma Lindström & Åse Brunström; Illustrated by Emma Lindström

This is a very engaging book for children, parents and teachers to help children with Autism to communicate their feelings more clearly and to enable them to fit in more comfortably with their peers. To accompany the text, there are some great illustrated effects. One of my favorites, is the clear bubble that Robin is inside, given a pictorial depiction of alone-ness and separation. The illustrations, which are a cross between realism and cartoon, are sweet and I do like how the main character, Robin, is quite androgynous and therefor quite gender-less, making the book very open minded and inclusive. To bring Robin out of confusion and distress, the kind white rabbit

offers a non-threatening and simple visual system that can be used to help express feelings. This is beneficial for many children on the spectrum, as they find picture cards an accessible way to describe their feelings. These pictures offer them choices which can always be rearranged to allow for change.

This book is an excellent resource for families and schools. I highly recommend it, not only for children on the spectrum, but also as a tool for opening up the dialogue with young children on how to be more aware of other peoples needs and how there is not just one way to learn something.

The Red Beast: Controlling Anger in Children with Asperger’s Syndrome by K.I. Al-Ghani; Illustrations by Haitham Al-Ghani

Through clear text and captivating illustrations, this book shows you what it is like to blow your top and then how to notice the anger and how to shrink it. The text melds beautifully with the illustrations and you get pulled right into the full expression of rage. The illustrations are great! I love the colored pencil/crayon scratch effect and the red that is chosen is a deep, satisfying hue, which give a perfect visual representation of anger. A take away from this book is definitely the overall feeling of compassion and acceptance.

I highly recommend this book. We all get angry sometime and this is a book is a great one to have in your toolkit for anger management strategist. At the back of the book, there are listed even more useful strategies.

Frog’s Breathtaking Speech: How children (and frogs) can use yoga breathing to deal with anxiety, anger and tension by Michael Chissick; Illustrations by Sarah Peacock

This book is a great introduction to stress relief for pre-schoolers and elementary aged children and is so usable by both non-practitioners and yoga teachers alike. It can be easily integrated into the classroom for some self-esteem enhancement and mindfulness. This book uses adorable watercolor and ink illustrations to increase children’s awareness of their own breath and affects of stress on their bodies, minds and energy and clearly instructs on accessible breathing strategies for all children. A nice bonus is that at the back of the book, there are illustrations for the yoga postures that accompany the breath-work.

I highly recommend this, one of the many awesome books by the dynamic duo of author, Michael Chissick, and illustrator, Sarah Peacock. Together they have filled a void in yoga and mindfulness for children with their picture books that clearly present techniques to reduce stress and increase peace of mind.

Ladybird’s Remarkable Relaxation: How children (and frogs, dogs, flamingos and dragons) can use yoga relaxation to help deal with stress, grief, bullying and lack of confidence by Michael Chissick; Illustrations by Sarah Peacock

This book is made to use in school, offering a successful relaxation technique that is simple, fun and easy to learn and can be administered by yoga teachers and non- practitioners alike.. It can be learned by everyone and once learned can be used anywhere at anytime when relaxation is needed. The bottom line is, it works!

Ladybird is an adorable, unassuming character who literally jumps off the pages of the book and onto various body parts of the body to add physical sensation and focus to a body scan mediation. At the back of the book, there are clear instructions on how to teach the Ladybird Relaxation and the actual Ladybird Relaxation Script.

I highly recommend this, one of the many awesome books by the dynamic duo of author, Michael Chissick, and illustrator, Sarah Peacock. Together they have filled a void in yoga and mindfulness for children with their picture books that clearly present techniques to reduce stress and increase peace of mind.

Thank you to Jessica Kingsley Publishing for sending me a copy of these books. All opinions are my own.


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My Top 20 Books About and For Kids Yoga

Below are listed my top 20 books that I have found most useful in my youth yoga teaching career. Some are for kids; some are for grownups and teachers; all are filled with useful knowledge and tried and true activities.

  1. 100 Yoga Activities for Children by Shobana R. Vinay
  2. Angry Octopus Color Me Happy, Color Me Calm: A Self-Help Kid’s Coloring Book for Overcoming Anxiety, Anger, Worry, and Stress By Lori Lite
  3. Be Good To Your Body: Learning Yoga (Dover Children Activity Book) by Roz Fulcher
  4. Breathe Yoga For Teens by Mary Kaye Chryssicas
  5. Classroom Yoga Breaks by Louise Goldberg
  6. Creative Yoga Games for Children (Volumes 1 & 2) by Edna Reinhardt
  7. Creative Yoga Practice For Children by Yael Calhoun
  8. Fly Like A Butterfly by Shakta Kaur Khalsa
  9. Go Yogi! By Emma Hughes
  10. I Love Yoga! By Mary Kaye Chryssicas
  11. Little Gurus: A Yoga Discovery Book by Illustration Olaf Hajek
  12. My Daddy Is A Pretzel by Baron Baptise
  13. Storytime Yoga: The Treasure in Your Heart – Stories and Yoga for Peaceful Children by Sydney Solis
  14. Yoga Book Of Feelings by Mary Humphrey
  15. Yoga Calm Educating Heart, Mind and Body by Lynea & James Gillen
  16. Yoga For Children by Mary Stewart
  17. Yoga Kids by Marsha Wenig
  18. Yoga Planet Cards by Tara Gruber
  19. Yoga Pretzel Cards by Tara Gruber
  20. Yoga Therapy for Children with Autism and Special Needs by Louise Goldberg


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Book Reviews By Eve: Unclouded by Longing: Meditations on Autism and Being Present in an Overwhelming World by Christopher Goodchild

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Wood Carving by Amelia Robin Gloss (my mother)

Right off the bat, I was inspired by Christopher Goodchild, this talented author with Autism, who has so skillfully mastered the art of the written word. His writing is profound, flowing and self-reflective. It is within his own contemplation while holding silence that he arrives at his perspective and then is able to put this into beautifully written passages. The depths to which his contemplations take us allow us to explore and meditate on ourselves and through his writings we learn not only to listen but to hear what is in the silence. You do not have to read this book in one sitting-it is best savored.

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I was deeply moved by this book. It is powerful and direct. I highly recommend it as a companion to your contemplation practice. Additionally, the book is accompanied by beautiful black and white scratch art by illustrator Julie Lonneman. The two artist blend very well together. IMG_8531

Thank you to Jessica Kingsley Publishing for sending me a copy of this book. All opinions are my own.


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Book Review by Eve: The ASD And Me Picture Book by Joel Shaul

IMG_8157 (1)Once again, Joe Shaul hits it out of the park with an accessible, user-friendly book for children on the Autism Spectrum. The book clearly explains, with easy-to-read cartoon/clip art-like illustrations, how we are all different yet all the same and shows how we can quantitatively assess these things thereby gaining insight about ourselves and the world around us paving the way for self- reflection and improved self control.

I love the outlined head-shapes with the visual depictions of thoughts actions and ideas. This makes it so clear and simple. It really helps to delineate differences and similarities so that we can see that we are similar to each other not only by our similarities but also by our differences; we are similar because we are different and by becoming aware of this we will be able to blend all varied modalities together seamlessly, into a world that truly allows everyone their own growth path. This book is great for kids with ASD but it is also great for everyone else to appreciate and learn from. Its especially good for visual learners.

I highly recommend. It is a great tool!

How will I use this book:

As you can see, I was inspired to make visuals of my own thoughts on the sticky notes attached to the book in the heading photo. Inside my head, I have ideas to make accessible flamenco as a way to discover ones true nature. It makes it very clear what I am thinking about and what makes me, me. These are things that I am good at, I feel confident about and I am passionate about expressing within this creative form.

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Full Disclosure: Jessica Kingsely Publishing sent me this book. All opinions are my own.