Always Be Dancing

The Art of Movement for Every/body & Mindful Book Reviews By Eve


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Book Review: A Girl Like Tilly: Growing up with Autism by Helen Bates

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We now know that Autism expresses differently in boys than in girls and this has busted open wide the focus and attention on this field. I love having this self-affirming book for children of such a young age. It is an eye-opening experience, walking in someone’s life, with their shoes on. I love how Tilly’s story unfolds naturally, following along the blue squiggle that is every present throughout the book.12 Following this doodle, we swirl in and out of Tilly’s life, through moments with her family, through her social interactions with children and adults and into her own feelings, thoughts and actions. This is a wonderful, relatable book that gives a voice to girl’s with autism. It is a thoughtful and expressive story that educates us about autism and encourages everyone to look past the diagnosis and to see the person for who they really are. The accompanying illustrations by Ellen Li are charming and highlight the story perfectly. I highly recommend this book for every classroom, library and home.

The back of the book is chock full of further reading suggestions and resources. Also, Tilly has her own Face Book page! #autism #helenbates #jkpbooks #ellenli

Full Disclosure: The publisher sent me a copy of this book. All opinions are my own.


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Dance In The Schools 2016: Baldwin School Wrap-Up

Cue in Dance In The Schools 2016!

I had the ultimate pleasure of working again with the Maria Baldwin School in Cambridge for this year’s Dance In The Schools Month. I began forging a relationship with the second grade teacher’s 6 years ago and it only keeps getting better each year I go back. This year I had the extra enjoyment of bringing not only my yoga program but I also brought flamenco to the music classes. Together these two classes make up the basis for Always Be Dancing Mindful Movement. This opened up a whole new angle to me for bringing mindfulness into this school. Pairing me up with the music teacher only enriched my musical knowledge, so it was truly a win-win situation for all! The second graders received a veritable cornucopia of mindfulness through dancing, Yoga posing, breathing, and meditating.The positive responses I gathered from the students and the teachers were full of positive remarks and full of enjoyment.

Please comment on what worked regarding the content of this program, e.g., use of theme, connection of movement/dance to curriculum, etc. Did you or the Classroom Teacher notice any changes in any of the students’ behavior, focus, ability to do whatever you were teaching? Please describe if possible.

The kids were all so connected to learning-it is a great environment. The staff and kids are very engaged and even the few children who are on the spectrum or emotionally developing interact with the group and learn alongside their peers. I often work with special needs and other high risk populations and I have developed a compassionate and effective way of bringing what I am teaching to these groups. I appreciated that every student tried what I offered to them. The music students learned about the history of flamenco and the gypsies, styles of flamenco, the emotional content of flamenco, the art of clapping, singing, dancing rhythmically and also rhythmic footwork.  In yoga, we used the basics of yoga, breath-work, poses and meditation, to reinforce emotional control. In the end, they students created a book for me which reinforced their engagement with both my yoga and flamenco classes.

Did you share any materials, resources, music, ideas, props with the Classroom Teacher so they could continue after your last session? If so, what?

MUSIC: I sent a musical link and we made a video of our dance. I also created a special document that gave the history of flamenco and wrote out a simplified version of the choreography for reference.

Here is the document I created for music: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1gpZnnLeYRu33aZqIooSvV5tm7mTxjAdOMu_qOCr_HEo/edit?usp=sharing

YOGA: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1IKRDDtAAfwcO4vL3EmU381SCi8YEGRAY0g2X2FOlk0o/edit?usp=sharing

Describe the nature of your collaboration with your Classroom Teacher – before your sessions (interaction with teacher, co–planning of materials, other), during your sessions (co-teaching, assessing the process, altering plans), after you finished (examples of follow-up lessons created by you and/or the Classroom Teacher, other)

MUSIC: After reaching out to the music teacher, he sent me some ideas for how we could collaborate his music and my dance class, which really helped me to mold my program.

We came up with:

*Phrase *Form *Different rhythmic values *Dynamics (volume) *Improvisation/Composition

 We worked with each throughout the classes, him adding in his teaching methodology (using the Takadimi system) which opened my eyes to new ways of being able to teach ideas and my own creative style of teaching which only enhanced his system. 

YOGA: I was in contact with the two second grade teachers prior to my visit. They asked me to work with their students on  Socio-Emotional learning and the executive functions, to enable a string and fruitful learning environment for all. I mapped out 4 programs that I would use as the basis of the 4 sessions.

Eve’s Awesome Yoga Day one was about using yoga to calm the body, mind and energy and playing with the differences between silence and non-silence, which can mean vocally, mentally and physically. Here I also taught about the brain and the concept of neuro-plasticity; Day two,  healthy eating; Day three, Rhythm and movement; Day four, Cooperation. 

Do you feel/think you were effective? Why/why not? What did you learn? What challenges did you face? (This is a food for thought question, not judging or criticizing you.

MUSIC: This was extremely effective. Every time I came into the room, the kids all brightened up and beamed, totally ready to dance/do yoga. I could see in their faces their joy! I loved learning about Takadimi as it brings in a Kathak element to my Flamenco teaching, as Kathak is seen as one of the roots of Flamenco.

YOGA: The kids learn in a very short amount of time about how they can control their brains, that brains change, how to be strong, focused and self-effective. How to work by themselves and cooperate in a group. How to be still and to move; to be quiet and loud; to be fast and slow. They learn about emotional control and how they can learn in a different environment than they are usually presented with.


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How Does Yoga Make You Feel…?

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This is what I asked my amazing group of students at the middle school I teach yoga at. This is the school’s group of Autism Spectrum kids and I have had the pleasure and the honor of getting to know these kids over the past two years:

Sam…Happy

John: The Stress goes out of my body

Liam: Mushy

Johnny: Comfortable

Harold: Happy

Joanne: Healthy

Catherine: Peaceful

Destiny: Sleepy

Marashall: My stress goes away

Edward: Like I am lying on the beach looking at the sun

Tricia: Stress Free

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Book Review: Our Brains Are Like Computers! By Joel Shaul

9781849057165Exploring how to communicate social cause and effect with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) by using computer diagrams and associations is a truly remarkable concept. Joel Shaul’s use of this metaphor, that “our brains are like computers,” creates a clear and effective communication tool to help children increase their awareness about how their words and actions affect other people.

This highly stimulating social skills book, with bold, easy-to-read illustrations and clear and simple text, teach mindfulness in a very factual and straightforward manner. It is perfect to share with your child as he begins to take ownership for his own honesty, friendliness and openness in the social situations required for the growing youth. Included are open-ended questions at the end of each chapter to help initiate conversation and thought and in the back are fun printable games and worksheets that can help your child investigate how he impacts the world around him.

I highly recommend this book to parents and anyone works within the Autism community. It is a great book to read and share and I have already begin sharing it with my students and their families. Please check out his website at Autism Teaching Strategies. It provides a wealth of information and resources! On YouTube he has a channel with many helpful videos. Also, he has a second book out The Green Zone that is a great companion to his first book. 

Full disclosure: The author sent me a copy of Our Brains Are Like Computers! All opinions are my own.


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Literary Inspiration

 These are the books I have been exploring in class and on my own:

The Silence Above

Nourishing Teachers Strengthening Classrooms-A Morning Of Yoga And Mindfulness

Book Review: My Amazing Day: A Celebration Of Wonder And Gratitude

Yoga Card Decks

Yoga For A Brainy Day


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Book Review: Seahorse’s Magical Sun Sequence by Michael Chissick and Sarah Peacock

9781848192836Seahorse’s Magical Sun Sequences celebrates diversity! It is a marvelous teaching and parenting resource and is easy to follow and fully adaptable for anyone wanting to introduce yoga and movement to children. The stories are carefully crafted and are full of beautifully descriptive language and delightful illustrations that brings the characters and scenes to life. The positive affirmations will have children feeling up beat, confident and able to respect the uniqueness in themselves and all others. As an extra bonus, there are free down loadable posters of the various sun sequences presented in the book. This children’s yoga book will inspire a love of yoga in all children and is an asset for anyone considering teaching yoga to children. phpThumb

 

 

 

Please check out the author Michael Chissick’s website Yoga at School. It is full of so many useful and creative ways to bring yoga to children of all abilities.

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Full Disclosure: The author provided me with a copy of Seahorses Magical Sun Sequence to review. All opinions expressed are my own.

 


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Eve’s Awesome Yoga comes to Mini Miracles Child Care Center, Framingham, MA

I was so happy with the successful launch of Always Be Dancing Mindful Movement at Mini Miracles Child Care Center, Natick. The students range from 15 month to 5.5 years and I was immediately charmed by each and everyone of them. The support staff is awesome. They are engaged and engaging as are the kids. I feel so fortunate to be creating this partnership with Mini Miracles Child Care Center and RCS Learning Center. I look forward to cultivating this wonderful friendship!

The launch of the Little Yogi Yoga program had us learning the differences between relaxed and active states in our breath, bodies and minds through songs, games, stories, dancing, moving and sitting still.

Things we learned (note: this is a grouping of all the things we did, through the breadth of all the classes. Everything was offered in an age appropriate manner. All concepts and exercises fit each age group. Modifications were applied) :

The Chimepp347: Ring the chime and still and quiet with listening ears, to hear the reverberation, the echo, of the bell and just breath. We don’t even have to think of how to breath, because we all breath naturally. We are breathing and we are alive. But now I am asking you to really notice that you breathing. Think about breathing in, filling yourself up like a balloon, and feel yourself breathing out, feeling relaxed, and calm and focused. Let students try ringing the chime. One of the things often noted was how surprised the kids were at how heavy the chimes are.

Hoberman Sphere: This is a specialty item. It is an isokinetic structure that resembles a geodesic dome but is capable of folding down to a fraction of its normal size by the scissor-like action of its joints (the geodesic dome was created by Buckminster Fuller and I had the ultimate enjoyment of having one in my bedroom while I was growing up. All I had in my room was a bed, a bureau, a blackboard, a wooden stove and sink and the while center of the room was taken up by a wooden geodesic dome, with a rope and a circular wooden swing strung down the center on which I could swing round and round inside the arc of the jungle gym. We used to cover the whole thing with blankets and pretend it was a cave). It resembles the action of the belly in deep belly breathing, a very calming and relaxing way to breath. Inhale as you gently expand the sphere, exhale as you gently descend the sphere. Let the kids open and close once and then pass to the next person. Reminding them that it is a gently toy and that we want to breath slowly like a turtle.

Deep Belly Breathing: Place your hands on your belly. Breath in: Feel how your belly fills up like a beabdominal-breathingach ball; breath out, feel your belly soften. Gently close your eyes. I will add next time, having the kids lie down and place a bean bag on their belly and have them lift and drop it along with their breath. This can also be done with a rubber duck, and they can pretend it is riding the waves.

Blowing Pom-Poms: At first I tried this with small straws, but I found them to be a distraction. We just lay on our bellies and blew on the pom-poms (each student had their own), trying to send them sailing across the floor. Lots of laughs, slithering, crawling, breathing going on!

Fly Like a Butterfly: Butterfly Pose with song & movements. color-3B-butterfly%2872%29[1]

Yogini Went To Sea: Tapping energy points on the forehead, arm, knee, belly and coordinating them all.

Clapping Name Game: Opening circle game that uses rhythm, counting, patterning, sequencing, socializing within a group, taking turns, listening, and creative thinking. Clap the number of syllables in my name, each child’s name and any support staff present. Help the children count how many syllables in their won name. At the end of class ask, who had the least? The most? What one was most common?

I Am Happy Meditation: Sitting, criss-cross yoga sauce. Pointer fingers stretched out and using thumb to hold other fingers curled
I am happy; I am good. I am happy; I am good (Shake pointer fingers)
A-E-I-O (finger tips together at the belly button) ; A-E-I-O (finger tips together by the heart) ; A-E-I-O (finger tips together by the forehead); U (hands reaching up to sky).
Ha-ha-ha-ha (finger tips together by the forehead) ; He-he-he-he (finger tips together by the heart) ; Ho-ho-ho-ho (finger together at the belly button) ;Hooooooo (pronounced “who” hands reaching our by the knees). I have finger tips join as a brain gym activity.

Little White DLittle-White-Duck-9780316733977uck song & movements: Rendering of the version that Raffi sings, along with the board book. As we read, we added movements to the story.

Pose Series: **The accompanying yoga cards are from the Yoga Education Resources: Creative Yoga Games sets 1 & 2, by Edna Reinhardt 

Final Rest Pose: This is the classic last pose of every yoga class. The idea is to lie perfectly still, legs slightly apart, feet dropping open, arms slightly away from the body, palms facing up the ceiling. You then follow the breath in and out for anywhere from 1 minute up to…..well in a “perfect” world that is what rest pose looks like, but that is not the reality of a children’s class. I gently remind stillness, focus, calmness, relaxation….

Namaste: Thank you!

Eve

 


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Book Review: Asanas for Autism and Special Needs by Shawnee Thornton Hardy

Asanas for Autism and Special Needs by Shawnee Thornton Hardy 5133p6QgxXL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

I had the pleasure of receiving a copy of Asanas for Autism and Special Needs by Shawnee Thornton Hardy. It is such an exciting time with so much attention being brought to the many benefits of yoga and meditation for the special needs population and the wealth of books on this subject!

Asanas for Autism and Special Needs is a clearly laid out book with many fun and creative ideas on modifying yoga to make it more accessible. I especially liked the idea of using pipe cleaners and beads to make wrist bands to aid in the learning of right and left. I like it both because it is innovative and it is a craft that the children can make themselves, which only increases the learning aspect. To start the book, Ms. Hardy creates coherent descriptions of various special needs populations and offers support and modification ideas for each group. Throughout the book, there are great photographic examples for each pose, and Ms. Hardy also includes a fantastic chair yoga section, which really expands the breadth of the book.

Asanas for Autism and Special Needs by Shawnee Thornton Hardy is a necessary addition to special needs yoga books. It belongs in every library and all yoga teachers can learn from her creativity and passion for bringing yoga to children with autism and other special needs. A side note, Ms. Hardy has recently put out an accompanying set of yoga pose cards. They are a great addition to the book and are very useful when teaching and sharing with children. IMG_2472-640x360

Full Disclosure: The authors provided me with a copy of Asanas For Autism And Special Needs to review. All opinions expressed are my own.


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Ways To Choose Love

love

What is love?

  1. a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
  2. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.
  3. passion or desire.
  1. a person toward whom love is felt; beloved person; sweetheart.NHL-140217-WaystoChooseLoveflyer_2-e1393271804363

Synonyms: nouns

Synonyms: verbs :

 

If you care about someone, how do yo show it? Love is a universal feeling, but how we express ourselves can be very varied. The kind of affection we are shown as we grow up, shapes how we give and receive love.

Write Yourself a Love Letter

To express self love, you can write a love letter to yourself.  You can start simply with “Dear Eve”,  “My sweetest Eve” or “Dearest BFF”

 

Tell yourself in the letter why you are writing—”I just wanted you to now how much I love you!”

Signing it “With all my love, Eve”

 


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Book Review: Cognitive Yoga: Mindful Stategies for Teachers by Lee Guerette

Cognitive Yoga

 

With school starting just around the corner, I was happy to be able to read and digest the wisdom imparted by Lee Guerette in her book Cognitive Yoga. Through exercises and insights that Lee has developed through her years of working with middle school students, she offers teachers ways to make their teaching more effective and students are made more aware of their own reactivity to themselves and to those around them. This leads to a well-nourished, more relaxed, thriving learning environment.

I loved the chapter about Setting Up A Serene Classroom that explains how subtle changes in the classroom’s physical environment can have huge results in creating a calming atmosphere where the teacher can spend her time teaching rather then controlling. Students do not even need to know that the elements are balanced in order for it to be effective. My other favorite part of the book, was her take on the Gunas, or the great states of energy, and how the interplay of these states of energy defines the character of someone or something. The three states which are sattva : goodness, constructive, harmonious and still, rajas: passionate, active, full of desire and restless, and tamas: dull, oblivious, negative and sluggish. All of these energies are present in each one of us and the purpose of identifying the different gunas is to help the students to be more aware of their own physical and mental states plus that of the surrounding environment. The coup de grâce is her likening each one of these energies to an animal personality: Satva= swan, Raja=tiger and tamas=sloth. Such a great teaching moment for kids and really so useful in my yoga classes in the public school environment.

Cognitive Yoga is focused on making school life accessible and successful for all students and teachers and on how to make life work constructively within the school environment. Ms. Guerrette shows her belief that all kids possess a gift for the world and by clearing the way for educators to do their jobs, the students will be able to grow, train and nourish this gift. Teachers in turn will find profound fulfillment. A phrase that comes to mind when I take in Ms. Guerette’s words is “Not knowing is different thany not knowing yet!”

I highly recommend this book for new and seasoned teachers alike and believe should be in every school library.

Full Disclosure: The author provided me with a copy of Cognitive Yoga. All opinions expressed are my own.