Always Be Dancing Adaptive Movement:

Yoga, Dance and Mindfulness for Every(body).


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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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Book Review: Her Lost Year by Tabita Green w/ Rebecka Green

Her Lost Year CoverThe full title of this book is Her Lost Year: A story of hope and a vision for optimizing children’s mental health.


This book presents a disturbing narrative of a young girl and her family’s frightening journey through the pharmaceutical drug industry via mainstream psychiatry. I felt swallowed up into their journey as I struggled desperately right alongside, calling out “Beware of the side effects!” and hoping desperately for them to trust their instincts. I have long been shy of the pharmaceutical drug industry and this book walked me through the harrowing tale of a young girls descent into the madness brought on by a cocktail of medications and their side effects. I was so relieved when the parents finally were able to come to a clear understanding of how to help themselves and their daughter. They give a great plug for believing in your intuition! With this book, they share their struggles as a way to provide hope and enlightenment to people about medication and how it does not always have to be the answer. It is necessary to realize there is more than one way to do something and that there are practical, natural way to ensure stability in your life.

This book deserves a place alongside all the psychology, self-help and mindfulness books in every library. It is great for teens, parents and caregivers and every doctor should read it, to get a second opinion!

http://tabitagreen.com/her-lost-year-book/

Full Disclosure: The author provided me with a Kindle copy of Her Lost Year. All opinions expressed are my own.


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Book Review: Cognitive Yoga: Mindful Stategies for Teachers by Lee Guerette

Cognitive Yoga

 

With school starting just around the corner, I was happy to be able to read and digest the wisdom imparted by Lee Guerette in her book Cognitive Yoga. Through exercises and insights that Lee has developed through her years of working with middle school students, she offers teachers ways to make their teaching more effective and students are made more aware of their own reactivity to themselves and to those around them. This leads to a well-nourished, more relaxed, thriving learning environment.

I loved the chapter about Setting Up A Serene Classroom that explains how subtle changes in the classroom’s physical environment can have huge results in creating a calming atmosphere where the teacher can spend her time teaching rather then controlling. Students do not even need to know that the elements are balanced in order for it to be effective. My other favorite part of the book, was her take on the Gunas, or the great states of energy, and how the interplay of these states of energy defines the character of someone or something. The three states which are sattva : goodness, constructive, harmonious and still, rajas: passionate, active, full of desire and restless, and tamas: dull, oblivious, negative and sluggish. All of these energies are present in each one of us and the purpose of identifying the different gunas is to help the students to be more aware of their own physical and mental states plus that of the surrounding environment. The coup de grâce is her likening each one of these energies to an animal personality: Satva= swan, Raja=tiger and tamas=sloth. Such a great teaching moment for kids and really so useful in my yoga classes in the public school environment.

Cognitive Yoga is focused on making school life accessible and successful for all students and teachers and on how to make life work constructively within the school environment. Ms. Guerrette shows her belief that all kids possess a gift for the world and by clearing the way for educators to do their jobs, the students will be able to grow, train and nourish this gift. Teachers in turn will find profound fulfillment. A phrase that comes to mind when I take in Ms. Guerette’s words is “Not knowing is different thany not knowing yet!”

I highly recommend this book for new and seasoned teachers alike and believe should be in every school library.

Full Disclosure: The author provided me with a copy of Cognitive Yoga. All opinions expressed are my own.