Always Be Dancing Expressive Arts

Yoga and Flamenco for Every/body


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Mindful Book Reviews By Eve: Julián Is A Mermaid by Jessica Love

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Today, I read Julián Is A Mermaid by Jessica Love (Candlewick) in my kids yoga classes today. The children range from age 2 1/2-almost 6 and one of their favorite activities is the Calming Rock meditation time. Each child gets a pile of colored glass rocks: some large and flat, some chunky, some blue, some green, some clear, some red, orange and yellow. They know that once the quiet music goes on, it is time to settle down and take on quiet bodies, mouths and minds. It is time to let their imaginations free and make designs or pictures or just enjoy the beautiful colors and textures of their rocks. After a full class practicing the skills of movement and stillness, I brought the rocks out, turned on some quiet music and the kids settled into the routine. I told them that I would be reading them a story and that some of the pages had words and pictures and some of the pages were only pictures. I explained that I would hold the book up and they had the choice to just listen, or they could look up and see the pictures as I would quietly alert them if the page had no words so they could see the pictures as I moved them slowly by.

I told them it was a story about mermaids and we immediately got into a discussion of other things that live in the sea and about the water and the waves. We decided our rocks reminded us of the ocean and we imagined a wave rolling in and messing up the sand beneath and then calming so the water becomes clear again. I started reading the beautiful simple prose and loved the peppering of a few Spanish words such as abuela grandmother mijo my dear; this is very endearing and has a feeling of love and safety. The children calmly listened to me and played with their rocks, and most eyes lifted as I passed the book by. I would watch their eyes take in the sequences of pictures and the special look that would come into their eyes when they got the story. To say I love this book is not enough. The message is one of hope, acceptance and authenticity and is accessible to the very young as well as the old. I am meeting with a local GSA today at a middle school and this book will be part of their yoga/mindfulness class as well. I cannot recommend this book enough. It should be in every school, every library, every home. It is a beautifully crafted message of love and the illustrations are fantastically expressive. This is a home run for this debut author-illustrator.

Even with young children as young as this, discussions happened around accepting other languages styles, choices, ways of being; accepting ourselves and that each individual person is really the only one who knows themselves and for them to nurture and love their inner self (of course I used a fun analogy of a tiny them inside themselves driving around them around like a giant ship.) I explained that even when that ship goes to school or is at home or is with friends, that the inner core them was always the same and they could feel safe, strong and grounded in that knowledge of who they really are. I was able to tell them that their really is a Mermaid Parade that happens in New York where everyone dresses like mermaids and parades together to the sea. https://www.coneyisland.com/programs/mermaid-parade

This book is about:

#acceptance #consciousness #diversity #character #love #courage #compassion #pride #empathy #support #lovingkindness #freetobeyou #freetobeme #freetobe #instalove #inclusion #strength #culture #community #comunidad #equality #mermaid #mermaidparade #coneyisland #Iam #satnam #authenticity #individuality

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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: If It Does Not Grow Say No Eatable Activities for Kids by Kerry Alison Wekelo

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This is a fun healthy-eating workbook that pairs beautifully when teaching youth about healthy living and mindful eating. A classroom could incorporate the activities (easily adapted for various age groups) during healthy eating month. March is National Nutrition Month and September is National Breakfast month, but I found that there are a large variety of food related “holidays” every month. I am enamored with helping kids receive the information they need to make healthy choices and this is a great book to make the learning fun and meaningful.

I was really inspired by this book and found a couple of websites that would really fill in the information. I look forward to creating a great class to include in my youth yoga program. It is recommended for preschool and school-aged children but I can adapt all this information through teens. This book is great!

Here is a website dedicated to the book http://www.doesnotgrowsayno.com. It is absolutely chock-full of very useful information!

For even more information, check out eat right. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics National Nutrition Month® Celebration Toolkit https://www.eatright.org/food/resources/national-nutrition-month/national-nutrition-month-celebration-toolkit


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Mindful Book Reviews By Eve: It’s Always There; A children’s meditation book for mindfulness, calm and happiness by Lou Lou Rose

It’s Always There A children’s meditation book for mindfulness, calm and happiness by Lou Lou Rose (including Magic Word cards)

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This is truly one of the best children’s mindfulness books that I have come across. The book is full of thoughts that pique the interest and understanding the art of mindfulness is easily accessible for children and is written into lovely, flowing rhyming sequences. The artwork is adorable. I love the textured painting juxtaposed onto photographic backgrounds and sprinkled with computer-generated flowers. It’s completely endearing! The additional Magic Word cards are beautiful affirmations for calm, clear thinking, positive feelings of self love and are perfect addition to this wonderful book. I really enjoyed this book and I know I will use it in my kids classes. It is fun, educational and practical. I highly recommend it! 

Please check out https://www.louiseshanagher.com/loulourose : Lou Lou Rose is the creative partnership of children’s therapist Louise Shanagher and visual artist Rose Finerty. Lou Lou Rose aim to nurture and promote positive mental health for children through a series of books, videos, affirmation cards and by holding creative workshops in preschools, schools, festivals and community groups.


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Mindful Book Reviews by Eve: Stress Free Kids: A Parent’s Guide to Helping Build Self-Esteem, Manage Stress and Reduce Anxiety in Children by Lori Lite

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Ahead of receiving this book, I had the awesome chance to talk to Lori and found her to be a kind-hearted, open-minded person. This book is absolutely chock full of wonderful, creative and easy to use ideas, techniques, and strategies to reduce stress in your life and in that of your any children you come in contact with. That is for sure her main point: you have to put on your air mask first in order to help those around you. Relaxation is a skill that you need to practice in order to master and by sharing personal stories, answering parent generated questions and other varied techniques, such as affirmations and meditation, this book will empower you on your journey to a stress-free life. I was especially inspired by her chapter on bringing these techniques into schools and know that I will use many of her tips to help the sites that I work with. This is an excellent book for parents and teachers, anyone who works with kids.


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Mindful Book Reviews By Eve: Watkins Publishing Round-Up

  • How To Teach Meditation to Children:Help kids deal with shyness and anxiety and be more focused, creative and self-confident by David Fontana & Ingrid Slack
  • The Calm Buddha At Bedtime: Tales of wisdom, compassion and mindfulness to read with your child by Dharmachari Nagaraja
  • The Mindful Mandala Coloring Book by Lisa Tenzin-Dolma

IMG_1092How To Teach Meditation to Children:Help kids deal with shyness and anxiety and be more focused, creative and self-confident by David Fontana & Ingrid Slack

This is a great one-stop-book to learn how and why to bring meditation to children, whether they be your own or your students. This book very clearly lays out meditations for different age groups from 5-8 year old children to 15+, late adolescents and for different needs, such as creativity, relaxation and body awareness. The author has come up with fun and creative, and easy to follow, meditations with follow up exercises for home, daily life and school. One of the ones that immediately caught my eye was exercise #4 in the chapter about meditations for mindfulness. The exercise is about taking a familiar object and showing it upside down and having the kids draw it from this odd angle. The exercise is about perspective and focus and creativity. I use this exercise in my yoga class-which is just meditation in motion, and we turn yoga poses on their heels or backs or bellies and then recreate the poses from a different perspective. We can rename them and bring new qualities of them to light when they are taken from a different angle or a chair or are holding onto a cane. Our attention becomes more focused, our minds more creative as we experience gravity from another angle.

I really enjoyed this book and recommend it for it’s unique and creative meditation ideas. I highly recommend this accessible book and strongly agree with the author about having a practice of your own as a necessary element in the desire to bring this to children.

The Calm Buddha At Bedtime: Tales of wisdom, compassion and mindfulness to read with your child by Dharmachari Nagaraja

IMG_1091This is a lovely collection of read aloud stories on instilling wisdom, compassion and mindfulness into ours and our children’s lives and by using the age old art of story telling, these stories make it very easy to bring these qualities to children. The short tale with morals empower children to take these teachings into the world by learning about patience, honesty and trust.

At the back of the book, there is a section of very sweet and simple mindful meditation scripts that can be used to enhance the teachings of the stories. The index makes it very easy to find themes that work in with what you are teaching.

This is a wonderful book that opens the hearts and minds of all who share them. I highly recommend these calming and enlightening stories.

The Mindful Mandala Coloring Book by Lisa Tenzin-Dolma

IMG_1090This is a lovely coloring book with beautifully detailed and delicately drawn mandalas. The book is separated into three sections: Buddhist mandalas, Celtic mandalas and Healing mandalas and at the beginning of each section, a few colored examples are given. Included with each mandala are a description of that specific mandala, simple step-by-step instructions for its contemplation, a recommended color palette and a meaningful quote. Also, for added creativity and self-reflection, at the end of each section are blank mandala templates for you to create your own, personalized mandalas.

This is a wonderful book that is packed with information for contemplation and quiet-time self- reflection. It it the first coloring book that I have seen with all the elements of a mindful practice included in one place. Coloring is a great way to bring about contemplation, meditation and healing. This book is beautifully laid out. I am looking forward to choosing a mandala to color and contemplate! Namaste!

Thank you to Watkins Publishing for these books. All opinions expressed are my own.


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Flamenco Books for Young Readers and To Read Aloud

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  • All About Flamenco/Todos Sobre Flamenco by Silvia Oivo

  • Aunt Elaine Does The Dance From Spain by Leah Komaiko
  • Bird With The Heart Of A Mountain by Barbara Mariconda
  • Flamenco Fantasy by Cynthia Ventrola Struven
  • Lola’s Fandango by Ann Witte
  • Mo Baila Flamenco by Fresia Barrientos Morales 
  • ¡Olé! Flamenco by George Ancona
  • Perlie and The Flamenco Fairy by Wendy Harmer
  • Quiero Bailar Flamenco by Azucena Huidobro
  • Spain by Susie Brooks
  • Spain: The Culture by Noa Lior
  • Thea Stilton and The Spanish Dance Mission by Thea Stilton
  • Today I Am A Dancer by Marisa Polansky
  • With Love From Spain by Carol Weston