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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Today’s Accessible Yoga Set: It’s All About You

October 2, 2019

I am in the process of putting more of my yoga online, so bear with me. My next goal is to add voice-over to my videos so that people can be guided through the sets. Today’s set is, accompanied by my son practicing his sax, so enjoy!

Here is the video of the practice and below are all the various chair adaptations for the set. If you have a specific issue and would like a different adaptation, please comment and I will make poses for you.

In this set, the warm-up is timed to about three breaths per movement. I have done the 4 U’s at 5 min. each, but you can do anywhere between 1-11 min each (just remember all segments must be of equal time.) *Not videoed: 10 min. deep relaxation (Allow your body to fully sleep. “I am in a deep sleep. I do nothing”)

Breath Series 

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Part 1: Prosperity Meditation (3 min): Pictures 1 & 2

~It is so powerful in bringing prosperity that more than 11 minutes would be greedy. This meditation stimulates the mind, the moon center, and Jupiter. When Jupiter and the moon come together, there is no way in the world you will not create wealth.” -Yogi Bhajan
  • Alternately strike the sides of the hands together. When the palms are face down, the sides of the Jupiter (index) fingers touch, and the thumbs cross below the hands, with the right thumb under the left.
  • When the palms are face up, the Mercury (pinky) fingers and the Moon Mounds (located at the base of the palms) touch.
  • Mantra: Har. Chant continuously from the navel, using the tip of the tongue (pronounced “hu-duh”  or a rolled “rrrr”).

Part 2: I’ve Got It In My Sight/Caliber of Life Meditation. (3 min) Pictures 3-6.

~Removes depression & discouragement
  • Extend arms straight forward, parallel to ground. Elbows remain straight through the whole meditation.
  • Curl fingers of right hand into a fist. Extend thumb straight up.
  • Wrap fingers of left hand around right, so end of palms still touch and extend thumb straight up, so that both thumbs touch along their sides. There will be a tiny “v” between the tips of the two thumbs.
  • Focus eyes on this “v”. Look as if through a eagle eyes, seeing far away and seeing the “v”.
  • Inhale deeply 5 sec./ Exhale completely 5 sec./ Suspend breath out for 15 sec. (can increase hold to up to 1 min.)

Part 3: Ego Eradicator with Breath-of-Fire (3 min)

~Ego Eradicator opens the lungs, consolidates the magnetic field, and brings the brain hemispheres to a state of alertness. 

Posture: Raise arms up to a 60 degree angle. Keep elbows straight and the shoulders down. Apply Neck Lock. Curl fingertips onto the pads of the palms at the base of the fingers. Thumbs stretched back, pointing towards each other. Feel a rainbow streching over your head thumb tip to thumb tip.

Eyes: Eyes are closed.

Mental Focus: Focus above the head.

Breath: Breath of Fire

Time: Continue for 1 – 3 minutes.

To end: Inhale deeply and bring arms overhead with the thumb tips touching. Open the fingers (like moose antlers), exhale and relax the arms down in a wide arch, feeling the rainbow expand.

Part 4: Peaceful Heart (2 min)

Warm fuzzy happy glow for you

Cross one hand over the other at the heart (try right hand on top and then left the next time; notice). Breathe long and deep. Bring the positive energy into your heart. Share it.

Sun Salutation Variation with Warrior Series

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  • Mountain, Up Mountain, Look Up To Hands, but keep them straight up *First notice your feet. Step hip distance apart. Big toes are slightly turned in towards each other.  Knee is tracking the directions set by the line between second & third toes. Sit and stand a few times. Make sure the knee do not fold inwards or splay out; keep them aligned with your toe line.
  • Utkatasana, Flat Back (1/2 Way Lift), Forward Fold

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  • Lunge, Lunge w/ Arms Up, Low Lunge

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  • Plank var. 1, Plank var. 2
  • Downward Facing Dog var. 1, Downward Facing Dog var. 2

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  • Cobra, Upward Facing Dog

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  • Wide Legged Forward Bend, Twist var. 1, Twist var. 2, Twist var. 3

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  • Head Stand variations #1 fingers interlaced, pressing firmly on the crown of the head. This contraction helps to build strength in the shoulder complex.
  • **Headstands are invigorating and revitalizing, resulting in increased positive energy and mental vitality. Headstands also improve circulation and balance.

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  • Crescent Lunge Set-Up, Crescent Lunge **I found in this instance, that trying to turn my back foot out into Warrior 1 caused tweeking in my hips and obliques, so I chose to do Crescent Lunge, a straight back-leg.
  • Warrior 2, Archer, Dancing Warrior

Kriya/The Four U’s

Originally taught by Yogi Bhajan on July 5, 1984
This is the set of “U.” It invigorates you by adjusting your Pranic Body with your Auric Body in direct contrast with the Ardine. These are called the 4 U’s and they are “for you.” Anytime you do these, you need to do a deep relaxation afterwards.
“The ‘4 U’ kriya sets the nervous system to withstand pressures of society and challenges of times.  Do each posture for 11 minutes for 11 days without moving a muscle and this is said to create nerves strong as steel—’stainless steel forever.’ This kriya also works on eliminating fear and developing greater spinal flexibility. Different people will function at individual levels of development and capability. Therefore, though the full time for each posture is 11 minutes, practice according to your individual ability.”
-Mukta Kaur, SuperHealth

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  • U #1 variations

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  • U #2 variations

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U #3 & #4 variations


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Today’s Kriya: Intuitive Awareness

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I am always trying to open paths to a richer experience. When I teach yoga, I choose a contemplation and from there build the class. This week, I was inspired by something my yoga teacher talked about and I kept mulling over it for myself. Intuitive awareness. To be intuitively aware; Allowing your intuition to blossom and grow like a flower because you are aware of it and its power. IMG_4074

When I meditate, I see colors. I see a crunching blackness and then it gets eaten away by the vivid colors of the rainbow-like a geode kaleidoscope. Sometimes its deep and dark purple/indigo/blue; others times bright yellow and one time even pink and green-like watermelon tourmaline. I feel calm and floating when I see these colors. I am in awe and entranced yet at peace.  Another student mentioned after class that she too saw colors. Her pattern is different than mine but I could totally relate. I am so inspired by her discovery that I am planning a chakra balancing class for next week and I will be interested to hear her experience with it. I see these color-visions as relating to the chakras. Each chakra is a whirling energy center along the spine and head. Each one a lotus flower that blooms and grows in each of these energy centers. Every chakra is related to a gland or glands. The ultimate goal to balance the chakras would have a profound effect on over-all health and well-being-total happiness, health and wholesomeness.

 

Breathing Sequence (1-3 min each) :

 

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  1. Left nostril breathing only.
  2. Right nostril breathing only.
  3. Breath in left and out right only.
  4. Breathe in right and out left only.
  5. Alternate nostril breathing (In left & out right; In right & out left…)
  6. Breath of fire.                                                                                                                              *at end of each section, breathe in and hold for 10-30 seconds, pull up root lock; try to beam out the third eye the whole time/eyes at 3/4 

Wake-Up The Body (Modified Morning Sadhana) (1-3 minutes each)

  1. Cow/Cat
  2. Knee-to-NoseB590112C-E39C-4923-AAB3-4732C54FE0C4
  3. Hug Side-to-Side
  4. Cactus-Arm Twist
  5. Spinal Flex 5FB62A7F-ED3B-411E-9376-04CE99D33898
  6. Life Nerve Stretch
  7. Butter Fly-Flaps & Hold
  8. Pelvic TiltsDE3CE6B7-E46F-4E3B-81CD-D49481B5304A
  9. Pistons (Hold at end)
  10. Rest
  11. Rock and RollD309111A-F1A2-4131-9EBC-D0E166D59338
  12. Cobra (Hold & Side Glances)
  13. Child’s Pose

Here is the sequence in a chair:

(link to Youtube chair yoga version of the sequence)

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Meditative Movement Series To Fully Relax The Body. (3-5 minutes each, except #4)

  1. Stand and dance gracefully. Arms are completely relaxed. Close eyes. Consciously release all the tension from each body part. Scan and release. Begin to sway gently. Dance gracefully with freeing, easy movements, using every body part
  2. Stop. Stand still and straight. Begin to gently touch every part of your body. Feel sensitive with the palms of hands.
  3. Lean forward and hang completely relaxed. Use a block or a chair to rest on if the floor is too far away. Gently bend your knees so your hips can be completely relaxed. Breathe normally.
  4. Stand carefully. Hang back slowly with arms hanging loosely by sides. Feel like you are resting on Little Bo Peeps crook. Back up along the pole and then upper back gracefully following the crook. (1 minute only)

Cross Heart Kriya With A Partner: This meditation balances the hemispheres of your brain, allows your past to become processed and released, and eliminates insecurities.

  1. Sit back-to-back with a partner. Spine straight and together.
  2. All all grudges to release as you breathe easily.
  3. Cross the forearms below the wrist and place them in front of the chest. Arms should be out slightly and angled a bit up towards the chest.
  4. Eye Focus: Look down to the tip of your nose.
  5. Mantra: Sa – Infinity Ta – Life Na – Death, Transformation Ma – Birth
  6. Process: Chant “Sa Ta Na Ma” and press the corresponding fingers to your thumb on each syllable. Chant out- loud (2 min.); chant in a loud whisper (2 min.) chant in head and continue hand movements (4 min.); chant in a loud whisper (2 min.); Chant out- loud (2 min.).  Hear the chant with your third ear which is in the same location as your third eye, right in the middle of the brow.
    Sa – Press thumb and index finger (brings knowledge)
    Ta – Press thumb and middle finger (brings wisdom and patience)
    Na – Press thumb and ring finger (brings vitality)
    Ma – Press thumb and pinkie finger (brings enhanced communication)
  7. To Finish: Inhale and suspend breath, roll eyes up to look out third eye and become completely still.
  8. Relax in resting pose.

 

 

Playlist:

  1. On Namo Guru Tune-In by Shakta Kaur Khalsa
  2. Breathe-Prana-Apana by Ananda Yogiji f. Jaya Lakshmi
  3. Circles by Adam F
  4. Ek Ong Kar by Simrit Kaur
  5. Move Your Body by Marshall Jefferson
  6. Bah Samba (Yoruna Soul Vocal Mix) by Tired Little One
  7. Toast by Koffee
  8. Om Tar Tuttare (Red Fulka Remix) by Deva Premal & Miten
  9. Salala by Angelique Kidjo f. Peter Gabriel
  10. Ek Ong Kar Sat Nam Siri Wahe Guru by (unknown)
  11.  Short Kirtan Kriya by Nirinjan Kaur
  12. Long Time Sun by Paramjeet Singh & Kaur

 

 

Una Tarde en España/An afternoon of Spanish music, dance and tapas!

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An Evening of Culture: Fundraiser for Natick Cultural District

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“An Evening of Culture” fundraiser

Date: April 6th 
 
Time: 7:00 pm, cocktail hour with appetizers and 8:00 pm approx. entertainment will begin.

I will be dancing Alegrías accompanied by Anthony “Tiriti” Tran on guitar.

 
Location: 12 Highland Street.  Delbridge Center for the Performing Arts at the Walnut Hill School.
This fundraiser supports all the great cultural offerings we provide free to the public each year. If you want more info. about us please visit our website:  www.natickcenter.org.
 
Now, a few details about the night:
 
Tickets are $60 per person and $75 at the door.


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Mindful Book Reviews By Eve: I am Bear & Bear Moves by Ben Bailey Smith

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I Am Bear by Ben Bailey Smith; Illustrated by Sav Akyüz

Bear is a fun-loving, mischief making, goodhearted bear. This beautiful read-aloud picture book, with its beautiful bold and bright graffiti-esque illustrations, is both Rap-able and rhyme-able. I highly recommend this fun book that craftily adds in a solid basis for helping kids build strong language skills. This book is fun, funny and fa-fa-fabulous (wicky-wicky-flash)! Plus, there is a wonderful accompanying (free) music video which only adds to the rocking, rhyming fun. 

Bear Moves by Ben Bailey Smith; Illustrated by Sav Akyüz 616N3FcameL._SX463_BO1,204,203,200_

In this rollicking sequel to I Am Bear, Bear Moves’s narrative combines strong percussive rhythms with fun, descriptive action words and beautiful, bold, graffiti-esque illustrations to encourage the reader to get up and bust-a-move. I call this the ultimate “Rise-and-Shine” book! Everybody, children and adults alike, will have a good hearty laugh at the word play in this fun, laugh-out-loud, shake-your-tail-feather book.
Thank you to Candlewick Press for sending me these books. All opinions expressed are my own.


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Boston Dance Alliance is Inclusion

        Boston Dance Alliance is Inclusion

“Through their new referral service for dancers with disabilities, the Boston Dance Alliance strives to break down barriers to inclusion. I was thrilled to see their action become a reality when I received an interview for and then earned the position to teach a 5-week accessible youth flamenco class at the Cotting School in Lexington. This is a chance of a lifetime, affording me the opportunity to share my love of flamenco with this inclusive community. Thank you BDA for increasing cultural equity and access to dance for diverse communities! 

~Eve Costarelli, owner and founder, Always Be Dancing Expressive Arts: Yoga and Flamenco for Every/body

Boston Dance Alliance is committed to opening doors to dance. Our free referrals for dancers with disabilities and those who want to work with them are only possible because of your generous support.

Every donation of $50 or more gets you the benefits of membership!

Donate Here
Share in the success of the organization honored this year as one of the four best small nonprofits in the state by the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network.

Thank you so much!

Debra Cash, Executive Director
Boston Dance Alliance
19 Clarendon Street
Boston, MA 02116
www.bostondancealliance.org

P.S. Check if your employer will match your gift! And BDA can now accept gifts of stock.