Always Be Dancing Expressive Arts

Yoga and Flamenco for Every/body


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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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Mindful Book Reviews by Eve: Awakening Joy by James Baraz & Michele Lilyanna

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This is a beautiful, well organized and easy to follow book on how to cultivate joy in our own lives so that we can then spread this joy into other people’s lives. The overlying theme of the book is the need for us to strengthen our connections to ourselves and each other so that we can live happier and more successful lives. In other words, by putting our own “oxygen mask” on first, we are then able to help our children, other children we come in contact with and everyone else in-between, to put their “oxygen masks” on too, thereby being more effective carers because we feel cared for, above all.

Through carefully laid out chapters each with an adult lesson to bring your personal joy practice to a deeper level and a children’s lesson that supports curriculum and learning outcomes, this book leads you through the process, step-by-step. The chapters offer insights, examples and a vast variety of exercises for both home and school activities to engage joy and for even more facility, there is a guide book at the back of the book to help seamlessly integrate these lessons into both the home and the classroom.

This is a gem of a book! I highly recommend it. I cannot wait to kick off the new school year by motivating my students desire for joy in their lives. The more we look for and instill this joy, the more energetic, happy and creative  we will become. It is natural! I have found that one of the keys to being joyful, is to share my love of dance with my students. I integrate flamenco into all my yoga and mindfulness classes. Children are just taken by the rhythms, the coordination and the focus it takes to dance flamenco. You can find out more at www dot AlwaysBeDancing dot com. ¡Olé! ¡Namaste!

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Thank you to Parallax Press for sending me a copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.


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Book Reviews by Eve: Boys Dancing by George Ancona & Tap Tap Boom Boom by Elizabeth Bluemle

Book Reviews by Eve: Two books from Candlewick Press that highlight dance and rhythm are Boys Dancing by George Ancona & Tap Tap Boom Boom by Elizabeth Bluemle.

IMG_9070Boys Dancing by George Ancona is the second book I know by the author, the first being ¡Olé! Flamenco, which is another great non-fiction book about dance. Both books include fun photo illustrations that really highlight the story. In Boys Dancing, I like the foot step pattern that leads you through the pages of the book. These kids faces really tell the whole story. They are so engaging and engaged. You can see form their faces their focus, determination and joy at dancing. The instructor is equally connected and together they learn about dancing with their bodies, minds and energies. This story shows the dedicated dancers and teachers and how a whole production comes together, from school gym to studio to stage. Dance is for boys. It is community building and the story shows how hard work is fun and rewarding. ¡Olé!

IMG_9068Tap Tap Boom Boom by Elizabeth Bluemle lives up to its name as a great choice of onomatopoeia for a rain storm. The delightful illustrations by G. Brian Karas are a cross between photo realism and sweet cartoonish images. The reader not only looks at the scenes, but also up and down and from within them. You feel like one of the pack of people escaping the rain storm! This is a very engaging and entertaining story that promotes community, friendship and the love of a good rain storm!

Thank you to Candlewick Press for sending me these books. All opinions are my own.


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Book Review by Eve: Storytime Yoga by Sydney Solis

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I was delighted to receive this cornucopia of items from Storytime Yoga‘s creator Sydney Solis. After reading her bio, I can safely say that Ms. Solis has created a yoga program that is full of love, dedication and the amazing art of story telling!  She is truly one of the pioneers of the art form and I can hear her rallying cry of “We can get kids moving using story telling, vivid imagery and movement.” Without a doubt, Ms. Solis embraces “educate the whole child!”

  1. The original Storytime Yoga” Teaching Yoga to Children Through Story (Book) was one of the first books I ever bought as I began my own yoga journey. The book includes sample stories that are ancient tales brought to life with yoga movement and a “moral”. You can follow these examples, but I feel the main object of the book is to give the freedom to you to use your own stories, to find your own voice.
  2. With The Treasure in Your Heart: Yoga Stories for Peaceful Children (Book), Ms. Solis’ passion for bringing the teaching of yoga into her lessons is in full swing. This book is very user friendly and very spiritual. The story of her life she shares at the beginning, is such an honest and open introduction to who she is, that you cannot be but pulled in. Her mission is clear “to educate children in yoga through story by offering them tools for mental and physical health” which she obviously embraces fully. This books includes a nice collection of photographs of children doing the yoga poses.
  3. Peace, for the Children: Yoga, Story, Dance and Mantra Music for Children (CD) uses story, music and mantra. Through the telling of multicultural teaching tales, these story songs develop focus, inner peace and creativity. The rhythms, the repetition,the movements and the affirmations through mantra together are an all encompassing balance of body, mind and spirit. Some of my favorites were:a. Breath It In= Cool and jazzy!

    b. The Nursery Rhyme Body Jam=good giggle song and a good dance song. Make up moves for a repetitive sequence to create a moving meditation.

    c. The Golden Fish=love the steel drum, island vibe.

    d. The Skelton’s Ball (especially the Spanish version, Chumba La Chumba) So much fun to sing along!

  4. The Peddler’s Dream: Yoga with a story about following your heart (DVD) The story is very nice and I love the connecting the yoga pose as they help you embody the lesson from the story. This also includes a lovely guided meditation for the end of the yoga lesson. It is very relaxing, especially for young children who are usually very squirmy.

This is a very accessible program, making it great for both practitioners and non-practitioners of yoga to use. Personally, I have found the teachings from the two books to be an invaluable addition to my own teachings. I have used the wisdom of the story teller in many situations. Thank you Ms. Solis! Deep gratitude! I highly recommend Storytime Yoga. Go forth and give yoga!

Thank you to the Sydney Solis for sending me this amazing bundle! 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.


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Book Review by Eve: All Birds Have Anxiety by Kathy Hoopmann Jessica

 

IMG_7319The author, Kathy Hoopmann, has found a great vehicle in using photographs of the expressive faces of birds in partner with a short phrase describing the very real and very serious subject of anxiety. The fabulous photographs bring the words to life. Each description of a level of anxiety allows the reader to empathize with and feel compassion for the very stressed out “birds”. This is totally relatable to ones own perceptions of and connections to anxiety but it also gives insight into the world and people around us. The book presents many varied aspects of anxiety and how they negatively effect us physically, mentally and emotionally. After taking the reader through these very descriptive definitions of anxiety and it’s out-reach (or in-reach, as it were), I so appreciated the feeling of lightness and a belief that their can be relief from the pain and stress anxiety causes that was evident at the end of the book. The book offers various coping skills to allow a person to really hear what their inner self is saying and how to bring themselves out of fear such as learning to trust oneself, being brave, and taking action such as eating well, exercising, doing yoga, snuggling pets and caring for themselves and others (human, animal or plant); all of these leading to the initiation of the relaxation response to counteract the negative effects of the continual firing of the fight or flight response. And thereby, releasing a person from the grips of anxiety and arriving at a calmer place.

I recommend this book with its straight-forward prose and the beautiful and often comical photographs, to both children and adults. It is an extremely accessible tool for those who are experiencing anxiety. It should be available in schools, doctors offices, libraries and anywhere else people might find a little relief from their anxiety.

Full Disclosure: Kingsley Publishers (London & Philadelphia) sent me a copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Mindful Teachings by Eve: How I will use this book:

A certain amount of stress is normal but an over production can lead to an anxiety disorder which can wreck havoc on a child physically, mentally, emotionally and energetically. Yoga is an accessible, adaptive and inclusive method to decrease anxiety and bring about a better state of mind and a stronger connection to oneself.

Yoga for anxious children creates opportunities for them to:

  • Build self-esteem and confidence in a relaxed atmosphere while they improve their balance, coordination and proprioception.
  • Practice independence in a safe, non-judgmental environment
  • Experience a sense of community
  • Learn how to focus on and use their breathing effectively (which has a direct effect on their vagus nerve and the multiple benefits of a fit vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is the longest of the cranial nerves (nerves in the brain). The word “vagus” means “wanders” and this nerve wanders all the way from the brain through the neck and into the abdomen. The vagus nerve is literally the captain of your inner nerve center—the parasympathetic nervous system, to be specific, which controls the relaxation response as a counteraction to the fight or flight response of the sympathetic nervous system. This “captain”. When well tines, will do a great job of navigating functions and impulses of the body.)
  • Practice calming techniques such as visualization, meditation and physical movement.

In general, poses that bend forward are calming and poses and backward bending poses are uplifting. A forward bending pose has a long exhale (to calm) and a back-bend has a deeper inhale, to invigorate. If you are feeling depressed, do not practice too many forward folding poses as they will increase your feelings of melancholy, but a few can certainly make you feel safe, secure and quiet. Back-bending poses are great to amp-up energy, open the heart and to increase joy.

  1. Yoga To Settle In and Calm Down (not necessarily feeling anxious):
  • Belly Breath
  • Twist
  • 30 seconds to 1 minute of stillness in body, mind and energy
  • ADD: Tree Pose
  • ADD: Challenge: Tree to Dancer to Tree
  • ADD Challenge: Partner Tree/Partner Dancer
  • (FINAL POSE): 1-minute Exploration
  1. Yoga To Energize (suggested use,after lunch):
  • Trunk Breath
  • Mt-Up Mt-Chair-Skier-Rock-Hang-Roll-up
  • Balance poses
  • Real or imaginary “Blow-A-Pinwheel” breath
  • Mini Back Bends (energizing, invigorating, opening and warming)
  • Warrior I-II-III sequence (add in awakening affirmations)
  • Shake it out/Tap it out
  • 1-minute Exploration
  1. Yoga for an upset or anxious student:
  • Belly Breath

  • Child’s Pose (either on floor, standing, in chair or at desk)

  • Possibly lay on belly, if that is available.

  • Imaginary or Real “Blow-A-Pinwheel” breath

  • Forward bends (calming, cooling, exhale poses)

  • Back Drawing

  • 1-Minute Exploration

 


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Book Review by Eve: Pancho Bandito and the Amarillo Armadillo Written by Mike Sundy; Illustrated by Jonathan Sundy

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Well right off the bat, let me say, I love anything armadillo. They have to be the coolest animal on the planet! They are literally present-day dinosaurs and are the only mammal with a built in suit of armor. They can hold their breath for up to 6 minutes and the 3-banded one can roll up arm3in a ball to protect itself from predators. They are also coolly adaptive creatures as they have minimal vision and hearing but they have a great sense of smell. They are my spirit animal!

The Sundy Brothers are a dynamic duo! This epic cowboy tale, written by Mike Sundy, is accompanied by the adorable illustrations of his brother, Jonathan Sundy and together these two pack a punch. With the resounding moral of the story being “what seems insurmountable is not” brought together with a giant sized bandito and an equally giant sized amarillo armadillo throw in some spicy hot Hatch chiles, a true southwestern staple, and a generous dose of humor and you have a highly entertaining story for children and their families. I love that the rhyme scheme is peppered with Spanish words. This delightful book has gripping action scenes, teaches about the importance of friendship, is multicultural and promotes diversity. One more thing, when reading out loud, it must be read with a drawling cowboy accent! Too funny! This book will definitely put a smile on your face and I promise, your mouth will be watering thinking of those vinegary, spicy peppers!

I highly recommend this book. Kid and grown ups will love it and it can be read again and again. The pictures are adorable. I love each emotive glance, whether human or animal!

How will I use this book?

This is a great book to use when teaching kids about the differences between the Fight or Flight stress reaction and the Relaxation Response. The F/F stress response occurs naturally when stress is perceived and it is designed to protect us from bodily harm.

The Relaxation Response is a accessible and beneficial way to turn off F/F stress response and bring the body back to pre-stress levels. Unlike the F/F stress response, the Relaxation Response must be practiced as it is not a natural occurring reaction to a situation. The beauty of it is, though, that the more you practice it, the stronger your ability is to calm down after stress. The RR can be initiated by deep breathing, yoga, visualizations, and other calming modalities.

Stress comes from how we perceive things. We need the Fight or Flight stress response in situations when stress is real, like when a tiger walks into the room. You need to decide whether to fight or run away, and your body needs to be ready to act-fast! But what happens if you expect a tiger to walk in and you get all stressed out and anxious, your sweating, your heart is beating fast, maybe you get a headache or your stomach gets upset and then in walks a kitten. No stress at all but your body is ready to fight or flight. Now you need to calm down fast! Take some deep breaths. Bring your heart rate, your blood pressure and your energy down. Try not to predetermine that a tiger is going to walk in every time. Let life unfold and allow it to happen. Your Fight or Flight stress response will be there when you need it, but you do not always need it.

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