I Am Uniquely Eve

Mover * Shaker * Dancer * Actor

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Dance In The Schools 2016: Baldwin School Wrap-Up

Cue in Dance In The Schools 2016!

I had the ultimate pleasure of working again with the Maria Baldwin School in Cambridge for this year’s Dance In The Schools Month. I began forging a relationship with the second grade teacher’s 6 years ago and it only keeps getting better each year I go back. This year I had the extra enjoyment of bringing not only my yoga program but I also brought flamenco to the music classes. Together these two classes make up the basis for Always Be Dancing Mindful Movement. This opened up a whole new angle to me for bringing mindfulness into this school. Pairing me up with the music teacher only enriched my musical knowledge, so it was truly a win-win situation for all! The second graders received a veritable cornucopia of mindfulness through dancing, Yoga posing, breathing, and meditating.The positive responses I gathered from the students and the teachers were full of positive remarks and full of enjoyment.

Please comment on what worked regarding the content of this program, e.g., use of theme, connection of movement/dance to curriculum, etc. Did you or the Classroom Teacher notice any changes in any of the students’ behavior, focus, ability to do whatever you were teaching? Please describe if possible.

The kids were all so connected to learning-it is a great environment. The staff and kids are very engaged and even the few children who are on the spectrum or emotionally developing interact with the group and learn alongside their peers. I often work with special needs and other high risk populations and I have developed a compassionate and effective way of bringing what I am teaching to these groups. I appreciated that every student tried what I offered to them. The music students learned about the history of flamenco and the gypsies, styles of flamenco, the emotional content of flamenco, the art of clapping, singing, dancing rhythmically and also rhythmic footwork.  In yoga, we used the basics of yoga, breath-work, poses and meditation, to reinforce emotional control. In the end, they students created a book for me which reinforced their engagement with both my yoga and flamenco classes.

Did you share any materials, resources, music, ideas, props with the Classroom Teacher so they could continue after your last session? If so, what?

MUSIC: I sent a musical link and we made a video of our dance. I also created a special document that gave the history of flamenco and wrote out a simplified version of the choreography for reference.

Here is the document I created for music: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1gpZnnLeYRu33aZqIooSvV5tm7mTxjAdOMu_qOCr_HEo/edit?usp=sharing

YOGA: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1IKRDDtAAfwcO4vL3EmU381SCi8YEGRAY0g2X2FOlk0o/edit?usp=sharing

Describe the nature of your collaboration with your Classroom Teacher – before your sessions (interaction with teacher, co–planning of materials, other), during your sessions (co-teaching, assessing the process, altering plans), after you finished (examples of follow-up lessons created by you and/or the Classroom Teacher, other)

MUSIC: After reaching out to the music teacher, he sent me some ideas for how we could collaborate his music and my dance class, which really helped me to mold my program.

We came up with:

*Phrase *Form *Different rhythmic values *Dynamics (volume) *Improvisation/Composition

 We worked with each throughout the classes, him adding in his teaching methodology (using the Takadimi system) which opened my eyes to new ways of being able to teach ideas and my own creative style of teaching which only enhanced his system. 

YOGA: I was in contact with the two second grade teachers prior to my visit. They asked me to work with their students on  Socio-Emotional learning and the executive functions, to enable a string and fruitful learning environment for all. I mapped out 4 programs that I would use as the basis of the 4 sessions.

Eve’s Awesome Yoga Day one was about using yoga to calm the body, mind and energy and playing with the differences between silence and non-silence, which can mean vocally, mentally and physically. Here I also taught about the brain and the concept of neuro-plasticity; Day two,  healthy eating; Day three, Rhythm and movement; Day four, Cooperation. 

Do you feel/think you were effective? Why/why not? What did you learn? What challenges did you face? (This is a food for thought question, not judging or criticizing you.

MUSIC: This was extremely effective. Every time I came into the room, the kids all brightened up and beamed, totally ready to dance/do yoga. I could see in their faces their joy! I loved learning about Takadimi as it brings in a Kathak element to my Flamenco teaching, as Kathak is seen as one of the roots of Flamenco.

YOGA: The kids learn in a very short amount of time about how they can control their brains, that brains change, how to be strong, focused and self-effective. How to work by themselves and cooperate in a group. How to be still and to move; to be quiet and loud; to be fast and slow. They learn about emotional control and how they can learn in a different environment than they are usually presented with.

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How Does Yoga Make You Feel…?



This is what I asked my amazing group of students at the middle school I teach yoga at. This is the school’s group of Autism Spectrum kids and I have had the pleasure and the honor of getting to know these kids over the past two years:


John: The Stress goes out of my body

Liam: Mushy

Johnny: Comfortable

Harold: Happy

Joanne: Healthy

Catherine: Peaceful

Destiny: Sleepy

Marashall: My stress goes away

Edward: Like I am lying on the beach looking at the sun

Tricia: Stress Free



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Book Review: Our Brains Are Like Computers! By Joel Shaul

9781849057165Exploring how to communicate social cause and effect with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) by using computer diagrams and associations is a truly remarkable concept. Joel Shaul’s use of this metaphor, that “our brains are like computers,” creates a clear and effective communication tool to help children increase their awareness about how their words and actions affect other people.

This highly stimulating social skills book, with bold, easy-to-read illustrations and clear and simple text, teach mindfulness in a very factual and straightforward manner. It is perfect to share with your child as he begins to take ownership for his own honesty, friendliness and openness in the social situations required for the growing youth. Included are open-ended questions at the end of each chapter to help initiate conversation and thought and in the back are fun printable games and worksheets that can help your child investigate how he impacts the world around him.

I highly recommend this book to parents and anyone works within the Autism community. It is a great book to read and share and I have already begin sharing it with my students and their families. Please check out his website at Autism Teaching Strategies. It provides a wealth of information and resources! On YouTube he has a channel with many helpful videos. Also, he has a second book out The Green Zone that is a great companion to his first book. 

Full disclosure: The author sent me a copy of Our Brains Are Like Computers! All opinions are my own.

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Book Review: Seahorse’s Magical Sun Sequence by Michael Chissick and Sarah Peacock

9781848192836Seahorse’s Magical Sun Sequences celebrates diversity! It is a marvelous teaching and parenting resource and is easy to follow and fully adaptable for anyone wanting to introduce yoga and movement to children. The stories are carefully crafted and are full of beautifully descriptive language and delightful illustrations that brings the characters and scenes to life. The positive affirmations will have children feeling up beat, confident and able to respect the uniqueness in themselves and all others. As an extra bonus, there are free down loadable posters of the various sun sequences presented in the book. This children’s yoga book will inspire a love of yoga in all children and is an asset for anyone considering teaching yoga to children. phpThumb




Please check out the author Michael Chissick’s website Yoga at School. It is full of so many useful and creative ways to bring yoga to children of all abilities.

Chapter 4 Crab

Full Disclosure: The author provided me with a copy of Seahorses Magical Sun Sequence to review. All opinions expressed are my own.



Eve’s Awesome Yoga comes to Mini Miracles Child Care Center, Framingham, MA

I was so happy with the successful launch of Always Be Dancing Mindful Movement at Mini Miracles Child Care Center, Natick. The students range from 15 month to 5.5 years and I was immediately charmed by each and everyone of them. The support staff is awesome. They are engaged and engaging as are the kids. I feel so fortunate to be creating this partnership with Mini Miracles Child Care Center and RCS Learning Center. I look forward to cultivating this wonderful friendship!

The launch of the Little Yogi Yoga program had us learning the differences between relaxed and active states in our breath, bodies and minds through songs, games, stories, dancing, moving and sitting still.

Things we learned (note: this is a grouping of all the things we did, through the breadth of all the classes. Everything was offered in an age appropriate manner. All concepts and exercises fit each age group. Modifications were applied) :

The Chimepp347: Ring the chime and still and quiet with listening ears, to hear the reverberation, the echo, of the bell and just breath. We don’t even have to think of how to breath, because we all breath naturally. We are breathing and we are alive. But now I am asking you to really notice that you breathing. Think about breathing in, filling yourself up like a balloon, and feel yourself breathing out, feeling relaxed, and calm and focused. Let students try ringing the chime. One of the things often noted was how surprised the kids were at how heavy the chimes are.

Hoberman Sphere: This is a specialty item. It is an isokinetic structure that resembles a geodesic dome but is capable of folding down to a fraction of its normal size by the scissor-like action of its joints (the geodesic dome was created by Buckminster Fuller and I had the ultimate enjoyment of having one in my bedroom while I was growing up. All I had in my room was a bed, a bureau, a blackboard, a wooden stove and sink and the while center of the room was taken up by a wooden geodesic dome, with a rope and a circular wooden swing strung down the center on which I could swing round and round inside the arc of the jungle gym. We used to cover the whole thing with blankets and pretend it was a cave). It resembles the action of the belly in deep belly breathing, a very calming and relaxing way to breath. Inhale as you gently expand the sphere, exhale as you gently descend the sphere. Let the kids open and close once and then pass to the next person. Reminding them that it is a gently toy and that we want to breath slowly like a turtle.

Deep Belly Breathing: Place your hands on your belly. Breath in: Feel how your belly fills up like a beabdominal-breathingach ball; breath out, feel your belly soften. Gently close your eyes. I will add next time, having the kids lie down and place a bean bag on their belly and have them lift and drop it along with their breath. This can also be done with a rubber duck, and they can pretend it is riding the waves.

Blowing Pom-Poms: At first I tried this with small straws, but I found them to be a distraction. We just lay on our bellies and blew on the pom-poms (each student had their own), trying to send them sailing across the floor. Lots of laughs, slithering, crawling, breathing going on!

Fly Like a Butterfly: Butterfly Pose with song & movements. color-3B-butterfly%2872%29[1]

Yogini Went To Sea: Tapping energy points on the forehead, arm, knee, belly and coordinating them all.

Clapping Name Game: Opening circle game that uses rhythm, counting, patterning, sequencing, socializing within a group, taking turns, listening, and creative thinking. Clap the number of syllables in my name, each child’s name and any support staff present. Help the children count how many syllables in their won name. At the end of class ask, who had the least? The most? What one was most common?

I Am Happy Meditation: Sitting, criss-cross yoga sauce. Pointer fingers stretched out and using thumb to hold other fingers curled
I am happy; I am good. I am happy; I am good (Shake pointer fingers)
A-E-I-O (finger tips together at the belly button) ; A-E-I-O (finger tips together by the heart) ; A-E-I-O (finger tips together by the forehead); U (hands reaching up to sky).
Ha-ha-ha-ha (finger tips together by the forehead) ; He-he-he-he (finger tips together by the heart) ; Ho-ho-ho-ho (finger together at the belly button) ;Hooooooo (pronounced “who” hands reaching our by the knees). I have finger tips join as a brain gym activity.

Little White DLittle-White-Duck-9780316733977uck song & movements: Rendering of the version that Raffi sings, along with the board book. As we read, we added movements to the story.

Pose Series: **The accompanying yoga cards are from the Yoga Education Resources: Creative Yoga Games sets 1 & 2, by Edna Reinhardt 

Final Rest Pose: This is the classic last pose of every yoga class. The idea is to lie perfectly still, legs slightly apart, feet dropping open, arms slightly away from the body, palms facing up the ceiling. You then follow the breath in and out for anywhere from 1 minute up to…..well in a “perfect” world that is what rest pose looks like, but that is not the reality of a children’s class. I gently remind stillness, focus, calmness, relaxation….

Namaste: Thank you!



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Book Review: The Mindful Teen by Dzung X. Vo, MD, FAAP

The Mindful Teen by Dzung X. Vo, MD, FAAP

The Mindful Teen by Dzung X. Vo, MD, FAAP

I was so excited to receive my copy of The Mindful Teen by Dzung X. Vo MD, FAAP. I am currently creating and implementing a yoga and mindfulness program through Open Spirit Center’s Nourishing Teachers, Strengthening Classrooms project into the Framingham, MA public school system and this books title grabbed me and I knew it would become an invaluable resource.

The chapters are clearly thought through and touch on everything from every day stressors to in-school stressors to home stressors and the exercises offered help you to flex your mindfulness muscles with techniques to awaken the wisdom inside you and like all exercise, lead you to a sense of well-being, inner calmness, increased kindness to yourself and to others and increased resilience to stress.

The questions posed in the book are there to aid you in identifying your own experiences and to help guide you to deeper self-reflection. I love the Teen Voices boxes as they offer personal stories in a teen voice that express strong testaments to other teens. This book does not lecture but rather offers simple strategies to access mindfulness in daily life. This book gives teens the means to embrace the now engaging them to look for the wisdom and strength they possess to heal themselves from all that life throws at them.

I highly recommend this book to teens and adults alike. It is so accessible an user friendly and just full of insight and meaningful and practical ways to make the mindfulness connection. There are many great ideas that I have already stared using in my own teen and education based mindfulness program. I see this book as a necessary addition to libraries, to schools, to yoga teachers, to parents and to anyone who is or who works with teenagers.

Full Disclosure: The authors provided me with a copy of The Mindful Teen to review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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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 AdamAnt_Eve@hotmail.com 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 AdamAnt_Eve@hotmail.com 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 availablehttp://www.openspiritcenter.org/. 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 availablehttp://www.openspiritcenter.org/. 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


Yoga Books, DVD’s etc for Children with Special Needs

On a previous post, I received a comment form a mother who is interested in books, DVDs etc for her child who was recently diagnosed with PDD-NOS. I thought I would compile a list for her and anyone else who is interested. 

1. Yoga Therapy for Every Special Child: Meeting Needs in a Natural Setting by Nancy Williams and Leslie White

2. Yoga for the Special Child; A Therapeutic Approach for Infants and Children with Downs Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and Learning Disabilities by Sonia Sumar

3. Yoga for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Step-by-Step Guide for Parents and  Caregivers by Dion E. Betts and Stacey W. Betts

4. Integrated Yoga: Yoga with a Sensory Integrative Approach by Nicole C. Cuomo

5.  I Can Be:A Child’s Whimsical Introduction to Yoga by Christine M. Sumner and Kirk Salopek

6. Brain Gym: Simple Activities for Whole Brain Learning by Paul E. Dennison and Gail E. Dennison

7. Yoga for Children with Special Needs by Aras Baskauskas and Britt Collins M.S., OTR (DVD)

8. Yoga-Yingo Classic Set (GAME)

9. Abilitations Super-Pro Anti-Burst Therapy Ball 65cm (PROP)

10. Learn With Yoga: ABC Yoga Cards for Kids by Christine Ristuccia

11. Sensational Meditation for Children: Child Friendly Meditation Techniques based on the Five Senses by Sarah Wood Vallely

12. Starbright Meditations for Children by Maureen Garth 

13. Fly Like A Butterfly: Yoga for Children by Shakta Khalsa


Teaching yoga to kids on the PDD-NOS Spectrum:

I have something I love to do. Teach yoga to kids. All kids! Both typical and non-typical kids alike, although those “monikers” seem so irrelevant because all kids are typical and non typical. I love working with kids. The students in Ms. Sand’s room are the older kids on the autism spectrum. This was my third class with them and I can feel we are developing a foundation of collective trust and friendship. I continue to introduce some of the basic Yoga poses and breathing exercises that will help to bring these children out of their shells and into the group interaction of the yoga class. The students are becoming familiar with these introductory poses, and I am progressively adding more poses to our routine, as well as slightly longer deep relaxation section at the end of class. This combination of poses, breathing and deep relaxation will help to strengthen their nervous systems, increase overall health and facilitate the development of their body awareness and concentration. Yoga therapy helps children with autism gain new motor, communication and social skills. Aside from physical benefits of yoga, these children can also experience improvements in mental and emotional health. It has been shown that yoga can have a massive calming effect on children who practice it, calming negative excitable behavior. Yoga can also help children to develop a stronger memory, will power, higher levels of concentration and improved respiration. The end result is an overall improvement in their quality of life.

Today’s Yoga-Snack:

Warm Up:

1.      3 large belly breaths (holding the belly to feel it fill on the inhale and release on the exhale)
2.       3 “Hun” breaths (like the word honey, without the “ey”, which provokes a resonance in the nasal cavity) breathe in, hands over ears, breath out saying “hunnnnnn”). Covering the ears helps to block out external sounds and the reverberations are very calming.
3.      Seated Side Stretch
4.      Washing Machine: Hands on shoulders, elbows lifted, twist side-to-side saying “whish- whish”
5.      Dryer: Forearms bent in front, held parallel to each other, circle them around each other, first in one direction and then the other
6.      Butterfly
7.      Table Top: Cat (breath in, curl spine and try to look at belly button) and Cows (breathe out curl spine down and pick chest up)
8.      Also in table top: Balance on 3 legs (first right arm up, then try left, then try right leg, then try left). Then 2 leg balance: Right arm up and left leg; left arm up and right leg.
9.      Tree Pose: both sides

Flow Sequence:

1.      Mountain Pose, hands at heart center
2.      High Mountain
3.      Fold in half and touch floor
4.      Plank Pose
5.      Cobra
6.      Downward Facing Dog Pose
7.      Dog to Lunge
8.      Feet together, fold in half
9.      Rise up to high mountain
10.  Mountain with hands at heart center

Cool Down:

1.      Child’s Pose
2.      Simple Lying twist: Lying in constructive rest, drop knees to one side, back stays on the floor, 3 relaxing breaths; Repeat other side
3.      Savasana


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Ms. Sand’s Clasroom Yoga Day One

Today I had the awesome opportunity to work in Ms. Sands Special Ed. Classroom. I worked with 5 students and a number of aides and Ms. Sands. Everyone was so receptive to my yoga class and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.

I started class by asking the students to tell me what they thought yoga was. They all agreed that yoga was exercise. I added that along with yoga being energizing, that it also had the ability to calm you down. I said in yoga it is important to breathe because life is breath and that proves that yoga and life go hand-in-hand. I explained that in yoga it is very important to keep a still body to allow us to focus our minds.

We started today’s practice by doing Belly Breathing while sitting in easy pose. For Belly Breathing, when you inhale through your nose, you fill your bellies up round and when you exhale through your nose (although sometimes the first few breaths do need to be exhaled through the mouth); you let your belly go flat. Three large belly breaths and the focusing began. I also had them do “Bumble Bee Breath”, which is where you breath in though your nose and then covering your ears with your hands, hum as you exhale through your nose. This is especially effect for blocking out too much external disruption because when your ears are covered and you are humming, that is all you hear and is very calming.

Onto hands and knees for table top, hands below shoulders and knees below hips, where we did Cat and Cow’s. Inhale and round your belly up and look at your belly button as you inhale, curve you spine down and pull your shoulders back as you exhale for Cow.

Curl toes under and press up into Downward Facing Dog Pose on a good exhale. We picked up one leg and then one arm at a time for different variations of 3-Legged Dog.

Curling back into Child’s Pose, we took three calming breaths.

Standing now in Mountain Pose, we raised our arms above our heads and looked up at our hands and then slowly curled down to touch the floor in Standing Forward Bend. We let our heads hang heavy and nodded and shook them to release any tension.

Standing upright again, we took Chair Pose, which is a very powerful pose and uses a lot of leg and abdominal strength. Arms up, we tried to make out bodies look like lightning bolts. And then with an exhale, we relaxed again into Standing Forward Bend.

Putting our right foot forward, bending the knee to as close to a 90 degree angle as possible, arms above head, Warrior I Pose; hands to heart center, open arms wide (facing sideways) Warrior II Pose. Repeat on left side.

Lying on our stomachs had and elbows on the floor by our chest, we pressed up into Sphinx Pose, which are a chest opener and a back bend.

Seated now with our legs in front of us, Seated Forward Bend and then one leg extended at a time (with the other leg bent into the straight leg to create a triangle), Seated One- Legged Forward Bend. This pose mimics the standing pose we did next of Tree Pose, as they got to visually see how there leg would be bent while standing.

We then stood for Tree Pose and with great stillness of body and concentration on a fixed spot across the room; we balanced on first one leg and then the other.

The final pose is Savasana (Corpse Pose) which I said was the most difficult yet the most rewarding pose in yoga. We lay on our backs, with our arms resting by our sides, palms up. We let our bodies completely relax for 3 minutes to reap the benefits of our yoga practice and to allow for stillness of mind body and soul.

Wiggling fingers. Rubbing palms together and placing our warm hands over our closed eyes, we opened our eyes to allow the light in slowly. Then curling up on the right side for a moment, we took a comfortable seated position. Hands at heart center to compete our own circle of energy, we said Namaste (The light inside of me shines to the light inside of you) to end our yoga practice.