Always Be Dancing

Yoga and Flamenco for Every/body & Mindful Book Reviews By Eve


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Mini Yoga Sequence: Creating Inner Peace

1. Child’s pose make sure your big toes are touching, and your knees are slightly apart, so you stomach can rest on your legs. If you cannot touch your head to the floor, then put a book or a block under your head so you can rest it in something. You can make the book as big or small as needed. You could also put a large pillow  or bolster under your stomach to really relax. If you cannot get into this position due to physical restraints, try sitting on a block or on a chair.
2. Legs up the wall: can be done on the floor with legs together or comfortably separated or you can even put a folded blanket under your hips.
The main thing is to breathe in and out through your nose. Take a breath in slowly though your nose, it does not have to be huge and then try to elongate the breath out. If you have trouble breathing out though your nose at first, you can purse your lips, like you are trying to gently blow out a candle and then let the air slowly escape your mouth.
** The reason we emphasize nostril breathing is that the in-breath particularly reshapes our attention and insight by activating our brain through our senses, such as smell and the action of slow, deep breathing, whether the inhalation or exhalation, is beneficial for our nervous system when we wish to be more still. In fact, mindful breathing emphasizes not only the breathing component, but also the mental component of paying attention and becoming aware of mind, body and breath together.


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Mindful Book Reviews By Eve: Alphabreaths

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Adorable, diverse illustrations connected to beautiful simple breathing prompts. From A-Z, easy to follow breathing prompts, each one aimed to elicit a calming response. This book is a great one for young children and it can be used more widely- any teacher could offer up one of these breathing practices at the beginning of each class. Students can encouraged to note the ones they like the best to keep in their tool boxes of practices they know help them to feel good, calm and in-control. Calming breaths can be used to bring focus and attention in a classroom as well as a home or office but are also great to combine with a yoga pose! Great accessible ideas to incorporate into today’s mindful classroom. 

Fun, accessible introduction to the power of the breath!

Here’s a link to a YouTube video showing kids in a classroom participating.

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

#childrensbook #bookreview #breath #breathing #mindfulness #calming


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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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Yoga and Mindfulness Games for the Holidays (plus 6/1-minute breathing activities to bring calming, peaceful energy)

Spending time with family and friends is a great time to practice mindfulness. Here are three games, plus 6/ 1-minute meditations you can do anywhere, anytime.

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Mindful Jenga

What you’ll need:

  • Jenga game
  • Set of yoga, mindfulness, table talk…cards
  • Family/Friends

How to play?

Set up the game. Shuffle all cards together. Turn pile upside down and place near the game.

  1. Traditional rules of Jenga apply. Do not choose tiles from the top 3 tiers.
  2. Choose a tile. Breathe in. Remove tile carefully. Breathe out.
  3. Place tile on top of the tower.
  4. Flip top card. Everyone completes the designated action. If a yoga pose is chosen, take a breath in and out in the pose. Do both sides, if needed.

    Card Deck Suggestions:

 

Yoga Memory

What you’ll need: TN1841_ThinkFun_-_Yoga_Memory_Game_1_grande

  • Yoga Memory Set (of course you can make you’r own too…which could be a totally other mindful activity. Everyone designs two yoga/mindfulness activity cards….. They can be similar pictures or  even two aspects of the same idea…which could lead to cross matching….oh! So many options)
  • Family/Friends

How to play?

Mix-up tiles/cards. Set up game. Traditional memory has 36 matching pairs for a total of 72 tiles. Reducing the number of tiles used can make the game easier and more fun if needed for special adaptation. .

  1. Traditional Memory rules apply.
  2. When a pair is found, all participants practice the activity.
  3. Breathe in and out in each pose. Do both sides of a 2-sided pose.

 

Found Object Mandala

A mandala is a series of concentric circles, beginning with a central concept, an then radiating out to the outer rim with repeating shapes, colors or designs.

What you’ll need:

  • Nik-Naks, Bric-A Brac, screws, nuts and bolts, pins, jacks, toy cars, ABC blocks, sea glass, beach rocks, or head outside for a walk and collect leaves, acorns, stones….everything and anything that has multiples.
  • A large open space, maybe covered with a table cloth.
  • Friends/Family

How to play:

  1. First, look around the space you are in and find mandalas, for example, a clock face, the ceiling sprinklers, window moldings, etc. Think of  mandalas outside, for example, the sun, a flower, a hubcap, etc.
  2. Work as a team to build the mandala.
  3. For fun, take photos throughout the process. This makes a nice flip book or picture video or even a nice picture for next years holiday card.

 

6/ 1-Minute Meditations:

  1. Whistle Breathing: Whistling is breath and music combined that you create with the lips. It is very powerful because it relaxes inside and out. It creates inner balance.

    A. To do it on the inhalation: pucker your lips, concentrate on the third eye point, and inhale through the mouth making a high-pitched whistle. Exhale through the nose. Focus the third-eye point on the sound of the whistle on the inhalation and on the soft sound of the breath through the nose on the exhalation.

    B. To do it on the exhalation, reverse the procedure: inhale through the nose and exhale through the puckered lips with a whistle. Focus the eyes at the third eye point and focus the third-eye point on the sound of the whistle on the inhalation and on the soft sound of the breath through the nose on the exhalation.

  2. Tongue Action Meditation A:  Stick your tongue: left, right, in, out. You will start to laugh!
  3. Tongue Action meditation B: Roll your tongue on the inside of the mouth around the gum and lips (not the teeth) as if you are wiping peanut butter off from the inside of your mouth. Can switch directions 1/2 way through, if desired.
  4. Kiss the air! Pucker up and kiss the air. Or possibly kiss the left palm and then the right, back and forth.
  5. “Z” Stand: Balance on toes; bend knees slightly as if to start sitting down; arms out, parallel to the ground, palms facing down; Chin gently dropped; Eyes 9/10th’s closed; Breath-of-fire. Short sniff in and short puff out with the nose or circled lips. Focus on the navel point.
  6. 4-Stroke Breathe: Emergency calming activity! Breathe in 4 strokes with the nose; Breathe out all in one stoke, to the count of 4,3,2,1. (the exhale can be through the nose or with the mouth).

 

 


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16 Picture Books on The Mind for the K-5 Classroom

A Girl Like Tilly: Growing Up With Autism by Helen Bates

Alphabreaths by Christopher Willard & Daniel Rechtchaffen

Angry Octopus by Lori Lite

Angry Octopus: Color Me Happy, Color Me Calm by Lori Lite

Glad Monster, Sad Monster by Ed Emberley

Go Away Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley

I Can Do Hard Things by Gabi Garcia

My Book of Feelings by Tracey Ross

Our Brains Are Like Computers by Joel Shaul

Robin And The White Rabbit: A Story To Hep Children With Autism to Talk About their Feelings and Join In by Åse Brunnström & Emma Lindström

The Adventures of Your Brain by Dan Green

The Brain: Our Nervous System by Seymour Simon

The Girl Who Thought In Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin by Julia Finley Mosca

The Rhino Who Swallowed A Storm by LeVar Burton & Susan Schaefer Bernardo

Winston Wallaby Won’t Stop Bouncing: What to Do about Hyperactivity in Children Including Those with ADHD, SPD and ASD by Joy Beaney and Kay Al-Ghani

Your Fantastic Elastic Brain: Stretch It, Shape It by JoAnn Deak, Ph.D.

Titles are linked to reviews that I have written. All opinions are my own.


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Mindful Book Reviews By Eve: Presley The Pug Relaxation Activity Book: A Therapeutic Story With Creative Activities to help Children Aged 5-10 to Regulate Their Emotions and to Find Calm by Dr. Karen Treisman; giveaway

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Dr Karen Treisman is the prolific author and creator of this wonderful therapeutic story designed to help start conversations with children about coping with big feelings and how to find inner peace and a sense of overall calmness. This therapeutic story about the universal commonness of having feelings and expressing emotions is full of kid friendly examples. At the heart, this story explains, through the eyes of an adorable pug name Presley, that although each person’s experiences are unique that every person has these experiences which makes the journey to finding peace within the turmoil all the more accessible.

This story on one level should be read by caring adults, as it clearly presents a picture of a young child struggling to come in control and it is also a perfect book to be read aloud. It is sweet and interesting and offers many fun and easily reachable activities to help kids cope with their emotions and find calm, especially the idea of a ‘mind retreat’ – an imaginary safe space where he can relax. Even an imaginary place can offer comfort and security a personal space to relax in and find ones calm. The sweet drawings by Sarah Peacock enhance the story and I can see many kids wanting to snuggle up with Presley for comfort!

With the assistance of the creative activities and photocopiable worksheets, children to explore the ideas raised in the story. Growing up takes practice and that is good, because by practicing something, we get better at it. Getting better at something leads to happier feelings and a stronger sense of self-worth.  The book also presents practical tools for parents, teachers, caregivers and other professional who support children aged 5-10.

This book will come in very handy with my in-school yoga and mindfulness program. as having applied practices to bolster learning is extremely useful  and fits in very well with the classroom environment.

I have a copy of this wonderful book to giveaway. Please comment on this post and share on twitter. Be sure to tag @dr_treisman @JKPBooks @alwaysbedancing. Winner will be selected on September 30th. 

Thank you to Jessica Kingsley Publishing for sending me this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

For more information about me, please visit alwaysbedancing dot com

#bookreviews #children #picturebook #mindfulness #activitybook #therapeutic #worksheets #practicaladvice #parents #caregivers #professionals #supportingchildren #alwaysbedancing #evecostarelli #story #communication #calm #relaxation #imagination #angermanagement #iameve #pug


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Mindful Cookie Eating Exercise: English and Spanish Instructions/Ejercicio Consciente de Comer Galletas: Instrucciones en Inglés y Español

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Below, I adapted a mindful eating exercise from John Kabat-Zinn to include the art of eating a cookie (home-made with love, of course!) for the students at Framingham High School in the SLIFE program, a program dedicated to supporting students with limited or interrupted formal education. I have spent three years cultivating mindfulness in this classroom which has included things such as chair yoga, Yoga Jenga, coloring and worksheets, group discussions about replenishing much needed personal energy supplies and of the meaning of MWE (Me+We=MWE), passing a spoonful of water around the circle or having a group moving a table with a bowl of water on it without spilling and as many crafty ways that I could come up with to share the concept of mindfulness with them. My heart has exploded repeatedly with the kindness these students have shown me by helping me with my Spanish, heart hands showing up in photos and the real clincher was when a group of them started singing along to Cameron de la Isla’s “Rosa Maria” (please, my heart, be still!). All these ways have really opened the door for them to hear me and ingest some of the mindfulness strategies and techniques I have laid out for them. All these years, the lead teacher, Hannya Lord, opened her door (and her heart) to me. Some years the class was weighted with Spanish and Portuguese speakers, other times it was not so simple but somehow, we all managed to come together and have laughs, learn how to relax, and to pay a little more attention to ourselves, our immediate surroundings and the world around us.

Holding, Seeing, and Touching:

Examine the cookie it as if you were an alien and had never seen such a thing before. What do its features look like? How does it fit in your hand? How do the ridges feel on the pads of your fingers?

Sostener, ver y tocar:

Examíname la galleta como si fueras un extraterrestre y nunca hubieras visto algo así. ¿Cómo se ven sus características? ¿Cómo encaja en tu mano? ¿Cómo se sienten las crestas en las yemas de tus dedos?

Smelling:

Hold the cookie to your nose and smell its aroma. Really get a sense of it. Does the smell arouse your senses? Does your mouth or stomach react?

Olor:

Sostén la galleta en tu nariz y huele su aroma. Realmente tener una idea de ello. ¿El olor despierta tus sentidos? ¿Su boca o estómago reaccionan?

Placing:

Take a small bite of the cookie and place it on your tongue. Just hold it there. Examine the cookie with your mouth, without chewing. How are you reacting? How does this cookie feel?

Colocación:

Toma un pequeño bocado de la galleta y colócala en tu lengua. Sólo mantenlo allí. Examina la galleta con la boca, sin masticar la. ¿Cómo estás reaccionando? ¿Cómo se siente esta galleta?

Tasting:

Take another small bite of the cookie. Notice the adjustments and placements your mouth and tongue take in order to bite this cookie. When you bite, notice the texture. Note the flavors as they release. Pause after a few chews and experience the flavor and texture in your mouth. Continue chewing and noticing. Does the taste change?