Always Be Dancing

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

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Day One Dance in the School 2015: What is mindfulness and how does it fit into the school day?

Day One Dance in the School 2015: 8b8b9-img_0747

What is mindfulness and how does it fit into the school day?

Maria Baldwin School, Cambridge, MA

Megan Powers & Karma Paoletti’s 2nd grade classrooms

A great opening for my in-school yoga and mindfulness program is to take the school’s core values or credo and work it into the mindfulness theme.

The Maria L. Baldwin’s CORE VALUES

We, the students of the Maria L. Baldwin School:

• Always give our best effort. (determination-a great word that self implies action rather than stagnation)

• Stand up for ourselves and others. (loving-kindness, compassion, empathy and peace. See the four abodes of yoga)

• Are kind, positive and safe. (Ahimsa *see Yamas)

• Treat others the way we want to be treated. (Ahimsa, Satya, Asteya, Brahmacharya, Aparigraha* See the Yamas)

• Work together to make a fun learning community. (loving-kindness, compassion, empathy and peace. See the four abodes of yoga)

love-compassion-joy-peaceMindfulness teaches loving-kindness, compassion, empathy and peace (Calmness and levelheadedness) and those are the foundation of a strong school community where teachers are nourished and classrooms are strengthened.

Today’s class started with the making of Breathing Sticks (When I teach a math based yoga curriculum, I bring in my abacus and show the kids how to use it. Also, for those classes, I call the sticks Breathing Abacuses) Here you use a large pipe cleaner, knot one end, slide on 5 beads and then knot the other end. This is a great visual for the students to use to follow for 5-deep, relaxing breaths. Using a nice slow, but steady inhale through the nose, slide the bead ½ way down the pipe cleaner as you are breathing; then a nice and easy exhale through the nose as it completes its journey to the other side. I usually lead the process one full-time through and then ask for a “turtle breath” leader and the group then focuses its attention on that person. Each student moves the beads on their own stick while following the leader. This great exercise was taught to me by Elizabeth Goranson of Stretch What Matters and I think it fits beautifully into a classroom based program and can easily be implemented by the regular classroom teacher.

Mindfulness is something that can be practiced every day throughout the day. Using mindfulness as a strategy to ease transitions works for all students and faculty alike. The sticks are a great resource because even if they are not available for use, their image can be called up in the mind and still be used as a focal point. At any point, such as the start of the day, the start of a class, the end of a class, have your students stop what they are doing, sit up with a straight spine, although not too straight to be rigid, but up right and awake, close their eyes or not, and take five breaths. Have them become aware of the breath, such as how it feels (It is cool as it enters and warm as it exits. Is it in the belly or the chest? Is it deep or shallow). Doing this will help both you and them anchor yourselves into the present moment…to be in the NOW. These few breaths will help you become aware of your body (notice tension, ease, tightness, calmness), your emotional state (frustrated, bored, excited, joyful, angry), your energetic state (tired, on edge, energetic…) and what is going on in your mind (busy, clam, cloudy, clear….). There are no right or wrong answers, this is just a time to notice and it only takes about 3 minutes. Just starting your day with these 3 minutes will actually allow you to have more productive time in your classroom; it will not be time wasted.Eve's _IMG_0799

After completing our breath work, I like to check-in with the students to see how they are feeling. They usually like to share their emotional, energetic or physical energy. I also ask, What is yoga? And get answers such as exercise, stretching, it calms you down, and What is meditation? Sitting quietly and not talking, Sitting like this (and they show a mudra), relaxing your mind….

Today I taught the Sa-Ta-Na-Ma meditation. The moving of the fingers and the repetitive chant is a great way to put thought out of the mind with little effort. I always follow Shakta Kaur Khalsa of Radiant Child Yoga‘s suggestion of the sequence: out loud, in whisper, in head with hand movements only, in whisper and then out loud again. With this age group I generally have them it 8x in each sequential stage.


seated easy twist (can be with or without partners)

cow and cat (meow) to ½ scorpion balance to pointer dog balance to one-legged bow pose (both sides)

child’s pose

Downward Dog to 3-legged dog (wag leg like a tail woof woof) to bend knees, look at hands, jump forward to hands

Stand Up

Sun salute-full body warm up, a great way to wake your body up for the day

Mountain-to up mountain to chair pose to ski racer pose to standing child pose to lifted chest, knees bent to forward fold (2x)

On second time send right leg back for high lunge (float hands) to low lunge (arms up and head up-look at hands) to moving forward, put weight on front foot and float back leg up (standing split)-float one hand at a time, then try both step into plank press to downward dog-jump through and repeat sun salutation, then lunges on left side. After 2nd plank, float slowly to the floor and then rest in crocodile pose.


Tree Series

Yogini Went To Sea (end by floating to floor)*Moving meditation that stimulates meridians taught to me by Shakta Kaur Khalsa of radiant Child Yoga

Lie on back, hug knees into chest

Stretch legs to ceiling (this is the version of candle stick pose I use in a classroom situation-no trauma for the necks and backs and it gets the legs over the heart), roll ankles, point and flex feet

Lay out on backs, prepare for relaxation

Deep relaxation exercise:

DSC3899The Post Card Rack of Happy Memories (Adapted from an exercise taught to me by Peter DiMuro).

Lets start by taking in a few deep breaths together. Allow yourself to feel your breath coming in and out. Focus your breath into your belly. Let yourself go and allow yourself to rest calmly. Imagine a post card rack in front of you, like when you go on vacation and you are looking to send cards to someone, but on this rack, are postcards with pictures of you having happy times. These happy times can be with your family, with friends, by yourself, with an animal, they can be from actual vacations, or just a good time at home, they can be of your favorite place to read, to relax, they can be indoors or outdoors….). Now settle your eyes on one card, it does not have to be your favorite one just anyone your eyes rest on. Think about this happy time…how old were you? What’s the temperature? The smell? The colors? Let your self be wrapped up by all the sensations of this moment. You are safe, loved and relaxed.

I then initiate savasana with a ring of the chimes. I try to give these kids a 5 minute savasana. Three chimes to end.

Explanation of Namaste– the light inside of me, shines to the light inside of you. And by yu saying this, you are saying the same to me. This ultimately means, thank you!


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Youth Flamenco, Inclusion Yoga and Tween/Teen Yoga with Eve Costarelli 2014-2015

Lola's Fandango
Youth Flamenco on Wednesdays; Classes start Wednesday September 10th, 2014
@ The Dance Complex, 536 Mass Ave., Cambridge, MA

Youth Flamenco 1 (ages 5-10); 4:00PM The class is designed for children aged 5 to 11 with zero to 1 year of flamenco dance experience. This class includes basic technique of flamenco dance to include correct posture, hand, arm, and foot placement. The student will become familiar with basic flamenco vocabulary. The course will include exercises that will develop the clarity of the students’ footwork, develop their upper-body to lower-body coordination. Basic castanet playing exercises are practiced. Repertoire will be taught. Required attire: leotard or fitted top, castanets, flamenco shoes and skirt for girls. Castanets and flamenco boots for boys. Pre-Registration for Fall-Winter 2014 session, as well as Winter-Spring 2015, contact Eve Costarelli for more information. No drop-ins.

Youth Flamenco 2 (ages 9-16); 5:00PM Two years of dance experience required. This class offers Flamenco technique to improve posture, hand, arm, and foot placement. Exercises that will improve clarity of the students’ footwork, upper-body to lower-body coordination as well as stamina and endurance are included. Medium to complex footwork and choreographic variations are taught. Required Attire: Flamenco shoes, flamenco skirt, leotard or fitted top, castanets. Other dance accessories may be required such as Spanish hat, mantón and fan, when necessary. Pre-Registration for this Fall-Winter 2014 session, as well as Winter-Spring 2015, contact Eve Costarelli for more information. No drop-ins.

Inclusion Yoga
Inclusion Yoga (ages 6-10) and Tween/Teen Yoga on Thursdays: Classes start Thursday October 2nd, 2014
@ Open Spirit Center, 39 Edwards St., Framingham, MA

Inclusion Yoga (ages 6-10); 3:45-4:35PM This inclusion class will help children with Autism, special needs, and typical learners to feel comfortable with all people, noting that everyone is different and that’s OK. The class combines breath work, movement, guided meditations and a deep relaxation period to help children learn to be aware of their thoughts, emotions and what their bodies say. This specialized program is designed for typically developing children, and children with special needs, including but not limited to; Autism, ADD/ADHD, OCD, Anxiety, PDD, Sensory Processing Dysfunction, PTSD, CP and DS. Students must be able to take verbal instructions and follow along in a group setting with support. Pre-Registration for this Fall session, as well as other sessions throughout the year, are available Led by Eve Costarelli. $90 for the Fall session, no drop-ins.

Tween/Teen Girls Yoga (ages 11-18); 4:45-6:00PM This class brings older tweens and teens together to explore how yoga can help them better understand and appreciate their changing bodies, relationships, and lives. Yoga can help tweens/ teens move through these often-challenging years and emerge with healthy ways to address stress and find balance. Classes will help empower teens and inspire self-awareness and body confidence, and are fun, upbeat, and non-competitive. Yoga poses, philosophy, breath work, meditation and journaling will be explored. This class also presents a wonderful opportunity for tweens/ teens to come together, laugh, and build friendships within the Open Spirit community. Pre-Registration for this Fall session, as well as other sessions throughout the year, are available Led by Eve Costarelli. $90 for the Fall session, no drop-ins.

Privates are available, slots are filling quickly.
Flamenco and Yoga parties available for children and adults. Yoga Classes & The Common Core, Weddings and Corporate events available. Please inquire.

Eve’s other projects include:

Nourishing Teachers, Strengthening Classrooms Project @ the Framingham Public Schools; Framingham, MA

The Birth of Flamenco @ Young Audiences of Massachusetts; Greater New England

Yoga in the Park @ Ivy Child International; Worcester, MA

Core Yoga In Schools @ Brighton High School; Brighton, MA

Yoga Reaches Out: Kid’s Yogathon; Natick, MA

Smell The Roses Flyer


Using nesting dolls to explain the 5 Koshas or the 5 Realms

Yoga for kids can be geared to teach them the meaning of yoga but with lightness, lots of levity and tons of exploration. Recently, I have been thinking of how to teach the koshas to kids. I have found that studying and teaching Esoteric Anatomy (your energetic anatomy)informs my practice and teaching in a beneficial way. The study of the subtle-body’s energies and structures supports my desire to focus inwards. Focusing on the energy inside your body is a great way to notice tensions, relaxation, and a great way to focus inside rather than just externally. I love feeling that the inside of me is just as powerful means for change as the outside.

In yoga, you can describe the functions of the perceptible (corporal) body and you can also describe the functions of the subtle (implied) body. The subtle anatomy of the humans is divided into five energetic sheaths known as ‘pancha kosha’. Pancha, meaning five and kosha, meaning layer or sheath. To explain these layers, I got out my Winnie The Pooh nesting doll-which by luck has exactly 5 layers. The outermost layer is Pooh, then Tigger, Eeyore, Owl and finally Piglet.

  1. (Winnie the Pooh Body) Annamaya Kosha (Food Sheath/Physical Body)– This describes the physical body composed from the five elements but mainly from food and water. With this layer you experience awareness of sensation. Imbalance can be experienced by: muscle tension, too much or too little body weight, obsession with appearance. To balance: Eat a simple diet, rich in organic foods and unprocessed food and do twists.
  2. (Tigger Body) Pranamaya Kosha (Pranic or Energy Sheath)-The Pranic or Energy Sheath, comprises the prana vayus*, nadis** and the chakras***. Prana, the vital breath which man lives by, is the bridge between the gross and subtle bodies as well as between the other koshas. Imbalance: nervous stress, anxiety, shortness of breath, depression, ADHD, exhaustion. Balance: pranayama, forward bends for anxiety, backbends for depression.
  3. (Eeyore Body) Manomaya Kosha (Mental or psycho-emotional Sheath)– Consists of thoughts and emotions. Expressed by ego and personality. Imbalance: fear, vengefulness, clinging attachment, mental illness. Balance: visualization, meditation, mantra chanting, inversions.
  4. (Owl Body) Vijnyanamaya Kosha (Intellectual Sheath)– Governs intuition. Created by instinct. Imbalance: lack of trust, arrogance, lack of empathy, malcontent. Balance: walking and sitting meditations, solitude, spiritual study, and headstand.
  5. (Piglet Body) Anandamaya Kosha (Bliss Sheath)– The ‘bliss sheath’ is the seat of the inner essence or self and is where we metabolize our experience of Samadhi or a higher level of concentrated meditation. The mind is said to rest in its intrinsic natural state which is pure bliss. In reality (or spiritually) there are no imbalances at this level as the mind is free from ‘chitta vrittis’ or mental confusions and distractions; yet…Imbalance: ungrounded, unfocused, suicidal thoughts. Balance: use all strategies.

*Prana is the force/energy that is in our body which brings forth life. Vayu means winds. Prana viyus are energy winds inside the body.

** Nāḍis are the channels through which, in traditional Indian medicine and spiritual science, the energies of the subtle body are said to flow. They connect at special points of intensity called chakras.

***Chakra means “wheel” or “circular motion”. They are the psychic centers located in ascending order along the shushumna nadi (the spine) and are part of the nadi (“little rivers or streams”) system of yoga.

We started class lying in constructive rest, hands on belly, just noticing breath. I gave an intention for the practice which was that we were going to give our yoga practice our wholehearted attention-training the mind to regain its ability to be undistracted. This will help them to remain aware and conscious throughout the practice. I also began to explain how to do Ujjayi breath or Victory breath. With breaths in and out through the nostrils, I first had them imagine that the breath was coming from the soft spot directly in the middle of their collar bones, at the base of their throat. I explained the sound was audible only to themselves but it should have a soft oceanic pulse. Imagine they are really Darth Vader but they do not want anyone to know so making Darth Vader breath “silently”.

From constructive rest, we moved on to an easy twist, something I learned in Svaroopa yoga, which I like a lot.

Standing, breathing up and down from Up Mountain to Bent Over Forward Bend using the inhale to lift us and the exhale as we descended. This establishes a coordination of breath and movement.

High lunge on both sides ending with Downward Facing Dog. Of course we had to try 3 legged dog with some leg wags and barks! As we began to use our breath more, I encouraged them to try their Ujjayi breathing. I also reminded them of our class intention, just a few subtle reminders and they kept on track.

We then did Triangle, Tree and then Half -Moon, even going for a foot hold, which some people call Sugarcane Pose…I just call it “Wheeeeee”!

Sitting back down, Bound Angle Pose, to Revolved Head-to- Knee Pose, with Karate Chop action…taking the opposite arm, lifting it high by your ear and then bending over and karate chopping towards the pinky toe side of the extended leg to a simplified version of Marichyasana III.

Of course, I threw in a number of Child’s Poses throughout.



What came next was unplanned, but grew into the perfect activity to tie in the koshas. We lay the yoga blocks out in a pattern, like stepping stones. As each person began their trail, they would take the first block with them and then add it to the end of the trail, reshaping the shape. To make this an exercise in concentration, I first had them say “So” “Hum” as they walked, one syllable for each step. We then internalized this and it became a silent walking meditation. They had to pay attention to their feet or they wold fall off the blocks. The shape moved around and ended up heading into the kitchen, where after each block placement, they would walk around the kitchen island and back to the head of the trail. The shape slithered through the kitchen, back out again and across the floor, to the supply closet, where the carefully placed each block back in place and then quietly went back to their mats for Final Relaxation. This unplanned activity lasted a good 15 minutes. They all worked together, silently, and the joy and happiness radiated from within. 

I love yoga! 

¡Ole! ¡Namaste! 

Here are some Babushka coloring pages and crafts or you can get your own set of Babushka dolls from 


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Yoga-Snack at Baldwin School, Cambridge, MA Grades 1 & 2

It was my second day at the Baldwin, and both classes, although based on the same principles, took on such different characteristics. Grade 2, my first class, was loud, energetic and full of laughter, while Grade 1, the second class, was quiet, focused and full of smiles (this mainly happened because we had a MCAs testing right next door and we had to tone it down).

But both classes were so fulfilling and joyful!

The basic layout for the day:

Started by playing Pather Panchali by Ravi Shankar, which comes from a movie of the same name. If you have never seen it, you should. It is one of the greatest Indian films ever made and is one of my favorite movies of all time.  I shared seeing it with my mom on many occasions-and I cried every time! 

I created a flow using the music in the background and it was both calming and energizing. We flowed through sun salutations, floor work, standing poses and times of stillness and silence, using child’s pose as our home base. Child’s pose is a great pose to bring the energy down, find a time to snuggle deep inside yourself, slow down your breathing and relax muscles that have just been used.

I asked the kids if they knew what meditation was:
1. Calms your mind
2. Sitting still and relaxing
3. Floating (um,no, that is called levitation)!
4. Thinking of only one thing so it quiets all the other chatter in your brain (Wow! That was a good answer…How did you know that?…You told us last week!)

Today I taught the “Sa Ta Na Ma” meditation. The ancient yogis believed there were 5 sounds in the universe “s”, “t”, “n”, “m” and “a”-so combined they make the chant “Sa Ta Na Ma”. With “Sa” press the pinky and thumb tips together simultaneously on both hands; With “Ta” press the ring finger and thumb tips together simultaneously on both hands; With “Na” press the middle finger/tall man and thumb tips together simultaneously on both hands; With “Ma” press the pointer finger and thumb tips together simultaneously on both hands. For the chant, I have the kids say it out loud 4-8 times, in whisper 4-8 times, in head (still with finger movements) 4-8 times, in whisper repeat and out loud repeat and end with a full breath in arms rising above the head and a full breath out, hands to heart center.

I also used the book “My Daddy Is A Pretzel” by Baron Baptiste. I wanted the classrooms to know about the book because it is a fun book for kids to self initiate yoga poses. We read the story and did the poses in the book (We especially stopped on bridge pose and spent a long time creating the pose. I went by each child and placed my finger in their upper back to help them locate the area to lift from-some children who I felt would understand, I also told them to lift at their sternum, but I did  this by touching the area and having them lift. The biggest difficulty was having them keep their shoulders on the ground). I also decided to forgo plow pose as we are doing these classes on hard linoleum floors and I really did not feel it was a safe pose for the kids. I explained how the neck could be in jeopardy in this pose and then we moved on. I opened up the floor for kids to offer up poses that were some how related to their parent’s careers…one funny one was: “hand cuff pose” which was kind of like bridge with your hands encased by your feet below your body, for a father who works in the courts; and then I said if my son was here, he would choose Dancer’s Pose because his mom is a dancer.

In grade two, we danced to Happy Jio, which is moving meditation I learned from the wonderful, radiant Shakta Kaur Khlasa. You can buy the song from the Radiant Child Music CD Happy.  

For final relaxation, I led the kids through a rainbow mediation that I adapted from a Buddhist Meditation for children:

This meditation guides children to discover their innate virtues and potentials.
First lay back and allow your palms to rest by your sides, with the palms facing to the ceiling and let your legs be gently spread and allow your feet to flop to the sides. Allow you body to relax and let the energy flow freely. Allow your yoga to sink into your body. Notice that you are breathing, gently in and out, with your belly rising and falling with each inhale and exhale.

Feel your body becoming lighter and lighter. See all the colors of the rainbow. Feel your body becoming all of the colors of the rainbow.

Feel the color red. Your whole body becomes the color red. Feel yourself giving out energy and strength. You are now full of energy and strength.
Feel the orange color. Your whole body becomes the color orange. Feel yourself giving out happiness and joy. You are now full of happiness and joy.
Feel the color yellow. Your whole body becomes the color yellow. Feel yourself giving out intelligence. You are now full of intelligence.
Feel the color green. Your whole body becomes the color green. Feel yourself giving out harmony and friendship. You are now full of harmony and friendship.
Feel the color blue. Your whole body becomes the color blue. Feel yourself giving out peace. You are now full of peace.
Feel the color indigo. Your whole body becomes the color indigo. Feel yourself giving out gentleness. You are now full of gentleness.
Feel the color violet. Your whole body becomes the color violet. Feel yourself giving out beauty and self-respect. You are now full of beauty and self-respect.
You are the rainbow; your colors are going out everywhere. Feel yourself getting bigger and bigger, your colors going out further and further, until they cover up this whole room, then further until they cover the whole school, the city of Cambridge, the state of Massachusetts, the whole United States, and still further until they cover the whole world. As you spread out all the colors, you are also spreading out energy, happiness, intelligence, friendship, peace, gentleness and beauty. You spread out even further and become even bigger. Now your colors of light are spreading throughout the whole universe. You are as big as the whole universe; your light shines out in every direction in space.
Slowly, all the colors change into a stream of white light. This white light is now flowing down the top of your head down to your heart. Feel all the white light going into your heart. Feel the color and light and energy and grace fill every cell in your body.
Then I sit quietly and allow rest to happen for about 5 minutes.

Wiggling fingers and toes; rubbing hands together, placing warm palms on closed eyes and opening then inside the closed hands and allowing the light to enter slowly; curling up on the right side of the body; coming to an easy seated position; hands to heart center “Have a wonderful rest of your day; Namaste!”


Some of my favorite yoga books for young children:

1.    Little Yoga: A Toddler’s First Book of Yoga by Rebecca Whitford
2.    The ABCs of Yoga for Kids by Teresa Power
8.    Create a Yoga Practice for Kids by Yael Calhoun and Matthew R. Calhoun 
10.  Yoga Games for Children: Fun and Fitness with Postures, Movements and Breath  by Danielle Bersma, Marjoke Visscher and Alex Kooistra
11.  Benito’s Dream Bottle by Naomi Shihab Nye
12.  Beau the Bee by Minda Devorkin 
13.  Each Breath a Smile by Sister Susa
14.  Baby Buddhas: A Gude To Teaching Meditation to Childrenby Lisa Desmond
15.  Peaceful Piggy Meditation by Kerry Lee MacLean
16.  Moody Cow Meditates by Kerry Lee MacLean
17.  Buddha at Bedtime: Tales of Love and Wisdom for You to Read with Your Child to Enchant, Enlighten and Inspire by Dharmachari Nagaraja 


Yoga Card Decks

One great tool I have found for my kids yoga classes is the number of fun and well made yoga cards. Each deck has a unique twist and the kids just love to use them.

1. Yoga Pretzels: 50 Fun Activities for Kids & Grownups by Tara Guber and Leah Kalish

2. Yoga Warrior Cards by Shakta Kaur Khalsa

3. The Kids’ Yoga Deck: 50 Poses and Games by Annie Buckley

4. Fun with Sun Yoga: Yoga Cards and Guidebook for Children’s Yoga by Dr. Jacqueline Koay

5. Yoga Planet Deck by Tara Guber, Leah Kalish, and Sophie Fatus

6. Yoga For Teens Card Deck by Mary Kaye Chryssicas

7. Yoga to the Rescue: Remedies for Real Girls (61 Card Deck) by Amy Luwis

8. Creative Yoga Games for Kids Volumes 1 & 2 by Yoga Education Resources

9. The ABCs of Yoga For Kids Learning Cards by Theresa Anne Power