Always Be Dancing Expressive Arts

Yoga and Flamenco for Every/body


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Book Review By Eve: Go Yogi: Everyday Yoga For Calm, Happy, Healthy Little Yogis by Emma Hughes; Illustrations by John Smisson

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Along with the titled book in the photo, you will see a bent pipe cleaner with beads on it. That is a Breathing Stick. We make them in class with the students and they can make a second one to bring home with them to teach a family member or friend how to use it. How to use it: 1. Slide all the beads to one side on the bend. 2. Breathe in and slide the first bead to the hump in the pipe cleaner; 3. breathe out, slide the bead over the hump and to the other side. Breath as slowly as a turtle. Repeat 4 more times.

I just received my copy of Go Yogi! and I decided to jump right in and bring it to my kids yoga classes and let them help me review it. Well, I must say, the book received 100% favorable reviews from my students, ages 3-6! They loved it and the classes were super fun, were rich with content and the kids remained focused and interested throughout the whole class. The illustrations by John Smisson are super engaging and they tell the whole story, so words are not even necessary. The descriptions hold a lot of vital information, including how to get in and out of the poses, what the poses are good for, and many positive thoughts to keep young minds joyful and healthy. Because of this, the writing is mostly best addressed by an adult while the children read along. There are separate “grown-up” tips that are very useful especially for adults who are not yoga teachers which makes this book a great addition to classrooms, homes and yoga studios alike. I love the overall feel of the book with its muted colors, computer graphic illustrations and its mindful take on bringing yoga to kids.

I highly recommend this book as a feel good book full of positive affirmations, fun yoga poses and a very well crafted sequence that is very helpful for all children. It worked very well for kids ages 3-6 and with some modifications it worked equally well with kids as young as 15 months.

Full Disclosure: Jessica Kingsley Publishing sent me a copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

How I will use this book:

The following is a detailed description of the class I taught, weaving together the book with my knowledge of teaching yoga to children.

Right off the bat, I started out with that funny word yogi The kids laugh when they hear that word. It’s great to use with kids and for comparison, I explain that just like someone who plays tennis is a tennis player, someone who surfs is a surfer, someone who dances tap is a tap dancer, a person who does yoga is a yogi. T’s what they call someone who practices yoga. Of course, the most popular word to use in yoga is namaste. The book describes it as meaning hello & goodbye; I add that it means thank you. Thank you from me to all of you; thank you from you to me; thank you from you to each other. It’s a beautiful, encompassing with a happy feeling, word. It is part of yoga in America. The kids know, that since I also throw in bits of flamenco into my yoga classes, that at the end of my classes, we say ¡Olé! ¡Namaste!

I ask them, “Why do we practice yoga?” Th e book tells us “yoga can help you feel healthy and happy” and with that we launch into our “I Am Happy, I am Good” meditation (link to previous post with meditation here) that I adapted from a meditation by Shakta Khalsa for Radiant Child Yoga.

The book points out it is best to practice in a space clear of toys and noise and we take a moment to notice that our yoga space is uncluttered, our mats are in order and it is as quiet as it can be (for a noisy child care center, that is!) I have a play list*, I use in the background, to create ambiance in our space, but I am always happy to practice in silence too with the kids. One of my major goals in bringing yoga to kids is for them to learn the difference between noise and silence in body, mind and energy.

At this point, I put the book on the floor so that my hands are free. The special yoga breathing exercise is well described and I add in “Sit up, criss-cross yoga sauce” and to have them try covering their mouths while they breathe. I demonstrated the sound of the oceanic breath so they could hear it for themselves and I did this while looking at each one them and timing my breathing with theirs, so we could flow our breath together.

Hello Mr. Sun (Singing-love me some Raffi!.…Oh, Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun, Please shine down on me. Oh, Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun, Hiding behind a tree. These little children are asking you, To please come out so we can play with you. Oh, Mr. Sun, Sun, Mr. Golden Sun. Please shine down on me.). Here I make up some qi gong-like movements for the kids to copy while we sing. Singing and moving is a moving meditation.

In a sing-songy voice:

*We reach up to the sky, Mountain pose. Feel strong and, steady and still.

*Breathe in, arms up reach up to the sun (tippy-toes)

*Dive down , splash, wooosh. You are a waterfall, flowing your water down to a river.

*Step one leg back and the other leg back. Now you are a plank over the quiet water. Strong and long. Sturdy. Hold your tummies up so the water does not splash it but do not touch the sky with your backside. Hold it for 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

*Slowly the plank lowers down to the water. Float on your belly, on the river, bobbing on the waves. Breathe in-the wave swells; breathe out, the wave slides away. Repeat. Be like a bird (hero pose), silently sitting on the water, bobbing up and down, but not getting jostled or ruffled. Just quietly resting on the quietly moving water.

*Oh! A little snake pops its head out of the water. Palms by shoulders. Now, you are the snake. Breath in, lift up (into cobra pose), breath out, hisssssssss. Here comes a dog, to play in the water. Press up into Downward Facing Dog pose. Press into the earth with your hands and feet. Lift your happy puppy tail and feel how long your back feels. One leg up, wag your tail. Woof! Woof! Put it down. Switch feet; wag; Woof! Woof! Bring it down. One hand up. Lick you paw. Other side. We try one paw and one leg (opposite sides) just for fun.

*Settle down into child’s pose to feel calm and happy, totally relaxed. Find that wavy feeling of your breath, calming you and bringing your focus inwards.

Usually we call this pose child’s pose, but for today we will call it seed pose. You, little seed, nestled in the earth, nourished by the rain and the sun, slowly your roots start to grow down deep into the earth and you being to know. Slowly we rise up onto our knees, let the head come up last, as it finally presses through the dirt. Now add your arms. Reach them up to the sun, palms together. Feel your body; it is a strong, rooted stem. With a final push, step up with one leg and then the other. Your roots strongly planted in the ground. Your arms burst open and greet the sun “Hello Mr. Sun! Here I am!” palms open wide as we grasp the energy the warmth, the glow from the sun and pull it towards you, bringing your hands to your heart. Right hand over the heart, left hand on top, and just breath. Energy, happiness and trust-pull it right into your heart. Feel your beating heart. Take a few breaths and slow down the beating.

Tea Pot or Watering Can (Triangle pose): I’m a little tea pot short and stout, here is my handle here is my spout. When I get all steamed up, hear me shout! Just tip me over and pour me out”.

Feather Fingers is the perfect time for me to add some flamenco into class. Some cuerpo, braseo, floreo y taconeo! ¡Olé!

Barn Door had them tried the balance with no support and then had them hold onto a ledge to support their balance. Did they notice if it was easier or harder or them same for them when they held the ledge to when they did not? Try it again without.

Chair Pose: feel how strong this pose makes your legs feel. Feel the energy of a lightning bolt; then we shoot off, up, far however, kaboom!

Warrior 1,2,3…with the chant “I am brave (Warrior 1); I am bold (Warrior 2); My own power (get set up to launch into Warrior 3); I can hold! (Warrior 3).”

Balancing Boat builds strong tummy muscles! Rock-and-roll and come right back up to boat pose

Pebble/Child’s Pose: have them take the pose and then go to each one individually and help into the proper form. Do not press on their backs; gently guide them into the shape. Nice round back. Breathing in, feel your belly press against your legs as it gets round; breathing out, the belly softens and your gently drape over your legs.

Butterfly add in “Fly Like A Butterfly” sitting in butterfly pose: Fly like a butterfly, fly like a butterfly, fly like a butterfly up so high. Repeat; Put hands together and place by a cheek, in a sleep like position: Sleep like a butterfly, (switch hand to other cheek,) sleep like a butterfly (switch hands, get a little quieter), sleep like a butterfly (switch; quieter) through the night. Repeat.

Tick-Tock Hands: I replace slightly with drawing circles on each others backs (sit in a large circle, so everyone has a person in front of them.) Go in one direction, now the other. Helps with cross brain and a great sensory exercises.

Calming Candle: First we go back to a little rock and roll action, and then roll up and over.

Savasana: Noodle Test: Go around to each child and have them totally release the effort in their arm or legs, like a wet noodle. Gently pick up the limb(s) and wobble them to have the kids feel the total loosey-goosey feel.

Sit up, cross-cross; rub palms furiously together to create warmth. Take your warmed, tingly hands and place them right one over the heart, then the left one on top, catch the thumbs (a bird shadow puppet) and feel the energy form your hands going right into your body and give yourself a happy, loving, friendly hug. Now let the bird fly away and we say “Thank you! ¡Olé! ¡Namaste!”

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(Coloring) Book Review by Eve: Color Me Happy, Color Me Calm: A Self-Help Kid’s Coloring Book for Overcoming Anxiety, Anger, Worry and Stress by Lori Lite

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This coloring book is full of positive affirmations and fun pictures to color.

Each 2-page layout has a great advice bubble and an accompanying picture to color. The pictures are all very emotive and capture the essence of the affirmations perfectly. The pictures are simple, allowing each one to be finished in a sitting, which is very satisfying. The flow of the lines is very pleasant and they add to the overall calming effect of the book.

Each page of this delightful book offers a mini-mindful moment including a progressive muscle relaxation script, yoga, visualization, a bubble thought exercise and gratitude pages along with a variety of other ways to connect mindfulness to your senses, functions, emotions, and activities such as dance, listening to music and exercise.

The book itself allows for lots of space to breathe and to express yourself creatively. I love how it touches on so many ways to experience mindfulness. This book offers both young and old coping skills to help calm anxiety and bring about peace of mind. Coloring is proven to be a great calming activity and is a great way for families to enjoy some quiet together time. I highly recommend this book for families, therapists, yoga classes (which is what I will be using it for) and for anyone else who wants to access their creativity and share calming strategies with children.

How I will use this book:

IMG_7627In my yoga/mindful movement classes, I love to offer many avenues to my students to absorb coping skills. This book will come in super handy when I need an activity that passively activates the still quiet place inside where peace abides and anxiety is dissipated.

 


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How Does Yoga Make You Feel…?

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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:

Sam…Happy

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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Literary Inspiration

 These are the books I have been exploring in class and on my own:

The Silence Above

Nourishing Teachers Strengthening Classrooms-A Morning Of Yoga And Mindfulness

Book Review: My Amazing Day: A Celebration Of Wonder And Gratitude

Yoga Card Decks

Yoga For A Brainy Day


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A short yoga sequence to help teenagers out of “slump mode”

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Teenagers are notorious slumpers. They then grow up to be slump shouldered adults. Help your teen lift up! Have them imagine their breast plate as a display case, displaying a beautiful diamond necklace. Feel the broad open chest supported by the broad, open back, the shoulder blades sliding down the back, the heavy tail bone, the lifted abdominal muscles…the stance is proud and open, but relaxed.

Here is a short yoga sequence to help teenagers out of “slump mode”:

1. Lie on back, with feet on floor (This is called Constructive Rest). Starting on the right side, bend your right arm and slide the lower arm under your lower back, so that the fingers of that hand can be seen on the opposite side of the body. Lower your body back down. You may need to adjust your arm to relieve any discomfort or tingling. Now simply breathtwo in and out. Feel the lower back resting on the arm. You can roll your spine up and down, pressing the lower back into the arm a bit and then releasing. This is a gentle stretch for the front of the shoulder and the lower back. Repeat on left side. Adding a small neck bolster by rolling a blanket is a nice addition and helps to create space between the neck and shoulders and gently helps to stretch and relax the neck.

2. Now back to Constructive Rest. Roll completely onto the right side of your body. Knees are bent at hip height. Keeping the knees in place, slide your feet slightly forward, so that you can see your toes and then retract them just enough so they can no longer be seen. Allow your left arm to reach to the ceiling, elongating all the way from the center of your back and then roll the top portion of your body open so that the shoulders can rest on the floor. In this twist, the chest is open to the ceiling, while the knees and lower body are resting on the floor. If there is discomfort in the lower body, place a folded blanket between the thighs, possibly slide the knees a little higher or lower to relieve. If there is discomfort in the upper body, instead of opening the left arm all the way to the floor, allow it to rest on the ribs or even just allow the bent elbow to touch the floor. Breath. Repeat on left side.

 

3. Next bring both knees into chest and hug them in. Breath. Feel the belly pressing against the thighs on the inhale and a whole body softening on the exhale. DKTC

4. Roll over to Child’s Pose. This is a great stretch for the hips, back, shoulders and neck. Breath. Do you see how similar it is to the preceding pose? After a few moments of rest, sit up, onto the heels. Clasp hands behind the back and rest the thumbs on the sacrum. Feel a broadening and lifting in the chest as the shoulders open. Press the knuckles down towards the floor and create a back bend in your upper back. Head might rise to  look at the ceiling but only allow the eyes to go as far as the nose can point. Return to regular Child’s Pose and rest for a few breaths.

5. Put hands on floor, by knees and curl toes under. Press up into Standing Child’s Pose. This is basically a forward bend, but the knees are soft and bent so that the abdomen and possibly ribs can lay on top of the thighs. This gives a great stretch for the back. Feel you tail bones heavy and feel your front draping. Hands can rest on the floor or hold the elbows for more stretch…or put hands on blocks if the floor is still too far away.zero

6. Standing. Place a beanbag on the top of the head, not for balance, but to allow the head to be up, the chest to be lifted, the shoulders are relaxed. The tailbones are heavy so that back is in neutral. Walk around. Breath.


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Ways To Choose Love

love

What is love?

  1. a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
  2. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.
  3. passion or desire.
  1. a person toward whom love is felt; beloved person; sweetheart.NHL-140217-WaystoChooseLoveflyer_2-e1393271804363

Synonyms: nouns

Synonyms: verbs :

 

If you care about someone, how do yo show it? Love is a universal feeling, but how we express ourselves can be very varied. The kind of affection we are shown as we grow up, shapes how we give and receive love.

Write Yourself a Love Letter

To express self love, you can write a love letter to yourself.  You can start simply with “Dear Eve”,  “My sweetest Eve” or “Dearest BFF”

 

Tell yourself in the letter why you are writing—”I just wanted you to now how much I love you!”

Signing it “With all my love, Eve”

 


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Always be dancing Teen Yoga Day 1: What is yoga?

Fall teen yoga session begins at the McAuliffe Charter School Framingham,MA.

I have 8 lovely students.

Happy Names

Happy Names

Class started with a focused breathing exercise just to get the kids sitting up, paying attention and focusing inwards. I calmly explained the activity I had planned, a silent activity, where they would write their name on a piece of paper and then decorate it with a happy face, a happy design, something that made them feel happy. Then, one at a time, we said our name and then went to the board and wrote down a word or phrase that answered the question

What is yoga?

What is yoga?

“What is yoga?”

Relaxing

Happy

Stress relieving

Flexibility

Stretching

Balance

Strengthening your core

Meditating

Kinesthetic

I led them through a slow flow practice, naming prominent poses in both English and Sanskrit  so that they become familiar with names. We balanced, strengthened, stretched to work on flexibility, we were observant doers, we laughed and after the second tree pose, the quiet and calm that filled the room was evident by all.

Lying down at the end. Meditation in the form of a focused breathing exercise: Just noticing the inhale (tip of nose, back of throat, chest, belly); just noticing the exhale (top of nose, back of throat, chest and belly); noticing both the inhale and the exhale. Letting thoughts come, as they too are a part of the meditation and then letting them gently dispel, like your finger stirring up still water and the ripples just floating away, coming back to stillness. Consciously cresting into Savasana. At the end, noticing which side of the nostril they are breathing more strongly out of and then rolling to that side, curling up like a baby, knees are bent at hip-height. Coming to a seated position. Focus through the brow point.  Cross the hands right over left over the heart center in the center of the chest. This is called Garuda Mudra. Giving yourself a heart hug.

Feel your heart beat. Keep the chest lifted slightly.

Garuda Mudramudra-garuda

Thank you-Namaste

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