Always Be Dancing

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


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Today’s Kriya: Intuitive Awareness

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I am always trying to open paths to a richer experience. When I teach yoga, I choose a contemplation and from there build the class. This week, I was inspired by something my yoga teacher talked about and I kept mulling over it for myself. Intuitive awareness. To be intuitively aware; Allowing your intuition to blossom and grow like a flower because you are aware of it and its power. IMG_4074

When I meditate, I see colors. I see a crunching blackness and then it gets eaten away by the vivid colors of the rainbow-like a geode kaleidoscope. Sometimes its deep and dark purple/indigo/blue; others times bright yellow and one time even pink and green-like watermelon tourmaline. I feel calm and floating when I see these colors. I am in awe and entranced yet at peace.  Another student mentioned after class that she too saw colors. Her pattern is different than mine but I could totally relate. I am so inspired by her discovery that I am planning a chakra balancing class for next week and I will be interested to hear her experience with it. I see these color-visions as relating to the chakras. Each chakra is a whirling energy center along the spine and head. Each one a lotus flower that blooms and grows in each of these energy centers. Every chakra is related to a gland or glands. The ultimate goal to balance the chakras would have a profound effect on over-all health and well-being-total happiness, health and wholesomeness.

 

Breathing Sequence (1-3 min each) :

 

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  1. Left nostril breathing only.
  2. Right nostril breathing only.
  3. Breath in left and out right only.
  4. Breathe in right and out left only.
  5. Alternate nostril breathing (In left & out right; In right & out left…)
  6. Breath of fire.                                                                                                                              *at end of each section, breathe in and hold for 10-30 seconds, pull up root lock; try to beam out the third eye the whole time/eyes at 3/4 

Wake-Up The Body (Modified Morning Sadhana) (1-3 minutes each)

  1. Cow/Cat
  2. Knee-to-NoseB590112C-E39C-4923-AAB3-4732C54FE0C4
  3. Hug Side-to-Side
  4. Cactus-Arm Twist
  5. Spinal Flex 5FB62A7F-ED3B-411E-9376-04CE99D33898
  6. Life Nerve Stretch
  7. Butter Fly-Flaps & Hold
  8. Pelvic TiltsDE3CE6B7-E46F-4E3B-81CD-D49481B5304A
  9. Pistons (Hold at end)
  10. Rest
  11. Rock and RollD309111A-F1A2-4131-9EBC-D0E166D59338
  12. Cobra (Hold & Side Glances)
  13. Child’s Pose

Here is the sequence in a chair:

(link to Youtube chair yoga version of the sequence)

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Meditative Movement Series To Fully Relax The Body. (3-5 minutes each, except #4)

  1. Stand and dance gracefully. Arms are completely relaxed. Close eyes. Consciously release all the tension from each body part. Scan and release. Begin to sway gently. Dance gracefully with freeing, easy movements, using every body part
  2. Stop. Stand still and straight. Begin to gently touch every part of your body. Feel sensitive with the palms of hands.
  3. Lean forward and hang completely relaxed. Use a block or a chair to rest on if the floor is too far away. Gently bend your knees so your hips can be completely relaxed. Breathe normally.
  4. Stand carefully. Hang back slowly with arms hanging loosely by sides. Feel like you are resting on Little Bo Peeps crook. Back up along the pole and then upper back gracefully following the crook. (1 minute only)

Cross Heart Kriya With A Partner: This meditation balances the hemispheres of your brain, allows your past to become processed and released, and eliminates insecurities.

  1. Sit back-to-back with a partner. Spine straight and together.
  2. All all grudges to release as you breathe easily.
  3. Cross the forearms below the wrist and place them in front of the chest. Arms should be out slightly and angled a bit up towards the chest.
  4. Eye Focus: Look down to the tip of your nose.
  5. Mantra: Sa – Infinity Ta – Life Na – Death, Transformation Ma – Birth
  6. Process: Chant “Sa Ta Na Ma” and press the corresponding fingers to your thumb on each syllable. Chant out- loud (2 min.); chant in a loud whisper (2 min.) chant in head and continue hand movements (4 min.); chant in a loud whisper (2 min.); Chant out- loud (2 min.).  Hear the chant with your third ear which is in the same location as your third eye, right in the middle of the brow.
    Sa – Press thumb and index finger (brings knowledge)
    Ta – Press thumb and middle finger (brings wisdom and patience)
    Na – Press thumb and ring finger (brings vitality)
    Ma – Press thumb and pinkie finger (brings enhanced communication)
  7. To Finish: Inhale and suspend breath, roll eyes up to look out third eye and become completely still.
  8. Relax in resting pose.

 

 

Playlist:

  1. On Namo Guru Tune-In by Shakta Kaur Khalsa
  2. Breathe-Prana-Apana by Ananda Yogiji f. Jaya Lakshmi
  3. Circles by Adam F
  4. Ek Ong Kar by Simrit Kaur
  5. Move Your Body by Marshall Jefferson
  6. Bah Samba (Yoruna Soul Vocal Mix) by Tired Little One
  7. Toast by Koffee
  8. Om Tar Tuttare (Red Fulka Remix) by Deva Premal & Miten
  9. Salala by Angelique Kidjo f. Peter Gabriel
  10. Ek Ong Kar Sat Nam Siri Wahe Guru by (unknown)
  11.  Short Kirtan Kriya by Nirinjan Kaur
  12. Long Time Sun by Paramjeet Singh & Kaur

 

 


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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?


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Kundalini Woman’s Set

Quiet meditation in rock pose 3min

Life Nerve Stretch L-D-B; L/R 3min

Camel var./ Camel pose 3min

Shoulder Stand L-D-B 3min

Archer L/R 5min

Baby 3min

Bow L-D-B 3min

Locust 3min

Cow L-D-B 3min

Cat L-D-B 3min

Stretch B-O-F 3min

Corpse 8-10min

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#flamenco #yoga #kundalini #dance #speedyyogini #inclusive #alwaysbedancing #alwaysbedancingflamenco #olenamaste #evecostarelli #natickma #smallbusiness #kundalinifusion #peacemoji #iameve #innerpeas #todayskriya


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Brainy Day Yoga

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This week’s yoga classes are based on the brain, stress and Neuroplasticity. I love the word Neurosculptor (Your Fantastic Elastic Brain by JoAnn Deak, Ph.D.). “Neuro”means “brain” and “sculptor” who is someone who “reshapes, carves, styles”…so as a Neurosculptor you are the sculptor of your own brain. The brain is amazing, that is for sure! We have the ability to sculpt our brains. With determination to learn and by practicing what we learn., we become more and more able to do things because our brains change with each new thing that we learn. 51fGFBSOapL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_

Determination (What a GREAT word!). I see this word as very active and internally driven. “What is the difference between confidence and determination?” I believe that, “Confidence can waiver because it seems more stagnant and momentary, where as determination is active and requires focus and effort, so it does not become stagnant.”

What is determination? It is bravery, courageousness, being energetic, persistent, driven, gutsy, purposeful and spunky! It is GROWTH. With determination, we can do hard things!

The more we can focus, plan and practice, the more efficient our brains work. We get smarter and smarter by learning new things and by practicing what we learn. Have the determination to persist even when it’s tough, because intelligence grows and expands. It, like the word determination, is not stagnant. Learning is like lifting weights for the brain-it is exercise, it helps you get stronger and feeling better. Also, do not be afraid to make mistakes as the old saying goes, “Learn from your mistakes”. Mistakes train your brain too! It is better to RISK being wrong as a new pathway will be created for more learning. Risk= Take a chance=Dare. You will be braver; more confident and in turn, more determined to keep on going. Stand on the edge of that diving board and go for it!!!

***I point out here, especially in reference to my work in the schools and working to get teachers involved in this mindful process; It is very important for adults, educators and parents to understand this, because by keeping this in the forefront of their professional practices or their parenting style, can remind them that when a student or their child is struggling, it is not because they cannot learn but because they need more practice and instructional support-maybe come at the situation from a different angle.

BRAIN HOUSE

Imagine your brain is a house. The people who live upstairs are your THINKERS: Planning Penelope, Problem Solving Peter, Peace Keeping Pari, Flexible Felicia, Kind Karl, Wise Wilma. The people who live downstairs are your FEELERS: Worried Willa, Nervous Nelly, Anxious Aisha, Easily Upset Eliot, Angry Alexander, Fearful Frieda, Sound-The-Alarm Stevie


When the two floors are working together messages can go up and down the stairs, between the two floors. Problems get solved, new challenges are met and a calm way of being is in effect. When you FLIP YOUR LID, the two floors are no longer connected and they can no longer work together for a solution, so the downstairs folks take over and there is a time of confusion, easy out bursts and no problem solving is accomplished.


To help with brain flexibility and strength, yoga constantly pushes the mind and body to be more open-minded and to want learn more. Yoga can help change the way the brain “thinks” by, over time, creating and strengthening new neurons and neural pathways to help get out of ruts and stuck old ways of thinking. Yoga boosts executive functioning and emotional resilience.

Studies looking at how the brain changes before and after meditation found that brain structures involved in awareness, attention and self-related thinking changed in structure and increased in volume. Plus, after eight weeks of meditation training, research found that the hippocampus, which is involved in learning and memory, developed more gray matter density.

 

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The Brain: Prefrontal Cortes, Hippocampus & Amygdala

THE BRAIN

The brain is the center of the Nervous System. The nervous system is the highway along which your brain sends and receives information about what is happening in the body and around it.

The brain and the spinal cord make up the central nervous system. The brain lies protected inside the skull (originally 22 bones which fuse) and from there controls all the body functions by sending and receiving messages through nerves. It gets the messages from your senses – seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching and moving. The messages travel from nerve cells all over the body. They travel along nerve fibers to nerve cells in the brain.

  1. The Prefrontal Cortex is at the very front of your brain, in the cerebral cortex. It is your Wise Old Owl. The decision maker: yes or no?; should I or shouldn’t I?; true or false? This area helps you with learning and focus. The best thing for this part of your brain is for you to remain calm in order to for you to be able to learn at your best.
  1. The Hippocampus, from the ancient Greek “Hippo” which means “horse” and then “kampus” which means “sea” (seahorse) because this area looks like a 2 seahorses side-by-side, one in the left side of the brain and the other in the right side, is buried deep inside the brain. This is your filing cabinet, that stores all your long-term memories.
  1. The Amygdala, which is basically attached to the end of the seahorse, is the center that controls your emotions, more specifically, your fears. This is your Security Guard, there to protect you. Here we see the Fight of Flight response initiated. Now, if you were a caveman and you came across a saber toothed tiger, you would need the ability to decide very quickly whether to stay and fight the beast, run away or freeze and become food. If you decided to stay, you would need to be the best warrior you could be and if you decided to run, then you would need to be the fastest runner. For this you would need your body to be working very efficiently so all your bodily and mental functions could help you out! This is stressful to you and your heart rate increases. You sweat, your muscles get ready to spring and your mind is focused on your one objective. But not everything needs to be experienced with such a stressful response and instead by activating the Relaxation Response (*see Herbert Benson), we can get through lesser stressors without them taking a toll on our body. Group discussion about big, medium, small problems and other ways we can solve things without getting stressed out.

Interesting facts about the human brain

  • Your brain has around 100 billion nerve cells
  • Your brain keeps on growing until you are about 20 years old. By then the brain has made lots of links which it no longer needs so it is able to shed any unwanted connections and still have billions of brain cells left to cope with whatever you may want to do. You can still make new connections even when you are 100 years old, so get Grandma going on the computer – she may not learn as fast as you but she can do it!
  • The front of the human brain is larger than any other animal’s, even the dinosaur’s!
  • The left side of your brain is usually better at problem solving, maths and writing.
  • The right side of the brain is creative and helps you to be good at art or music.
  • The brain stores all sorts of things in the memory including facts and figures and all the smells, tastes and things you have seen, heard or touched.
  • Your brain can also find things that you have remembered.
  • The adult brain weighs about 3lbs.

Looking after your brain

Your brain is protected inside your skull and is cushioned by cerebral-spinal fluid but could still be damaged if your head is hit or bumps into something hard.

  • Always wear a helmet if you are riding a bike, scooter or skate board.
  • Always wear a helmet for sports where you could be hit or fall, eg baseball, horse-riding, skiing & snowboarding .
  • Never dive into water unless you know how deep it is. (Your brain should let you know that this is not a smart thing to do.)
  • Listen to that ‘voice’ inside you – you know what I mean, the one that says ‘This is not a good idea!’

Apart from making sure that you don’t injure your brain, you can also make sure that you help your brain by:

  • Eating healthy food like fresh fruit and vegetables, drinking milk and not eating too much junk food.
  • Exercising your brain by learning new things and trying to remember them.
  • Getting plenty of sleep.

5-5-5 Breathing to Calm Down

One part of our nervous system gives us more energy when we need it. This part is called the sympathetic nervous system. Another part helps calm us down when we are too excited. This part is called the parasympathetic nervous system. When you get upset, nervous, or anxious, we can trigger our parasympathetic nervous system to calm us down.

Follow these steps.

  1. Inhale very slowly through your nose for 5 seconds: 1-2-3-4-5.
  2. Exhale very slowly through your nose or mouth for 5 seconds: 1-2-3-4-5.
  3. Suspend breath and pump belly 5 times: 1-2-3-4-5.
  4. Repeat the process 3-5 more times
  5. Notice how you feel. (Hopefully you will feel calmer.)

This is an AWESOME breath for an overall sense of calm and inner focus.

In Kundalini yoga, kriyas are sets of postures, movements or breath patterns which, when all performed as a sequence, lead mind and body to a specific desired outcome, such as eliminating stress in the body. Each standalone movement within the kriya will change how you feel, but by practicing the full set, we will physically change our entire body.

Self-care is vitally important. Taking care of yourself needs to be your number one focus. The less stressed you are the happier, healthier and more wholly well you will be and there fore will be more able to give of yourself to work, family, friends and life in general. How can you add some stress-relief into your daily routine? You need to put your air mask on first before you can be of service to others.

Kundalini Kriya for Stress-Relief

The following Kundalini kriya is specifically designed for self-care with an emphasis on relieving stress.

Step 1:
Listen to Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo while breathing. This chant awakens our inner teacher and wisdom. It sets us up to focus in on ourselves & devote this time to our inner well-being. *I am not a certified Kundalini teacher nor am I a Sikh, but I am 100% enamored with the art and science of kundalini. My goal is to bring this powerful tool into the world through non-sectarian means.
Step 2:
Begin standing and wrap your arms around yourself so you are hugging your lower ribs as tight as you can. Begin extending alternate legs forward, and as you build momentum, make each extension a little jump. This lifts the heart rate, shakes out any tension in the legs, ankles and feet, and loosens up the hips. 3-5 minutes.
Step 3:
This exercise is the same as step 2, but now we add a forward bend to touch the toes after each leg kick (kick/kick/bend) and lift back up to continue. Keep the legs as straight as possible to stretch out the hamstrings. This is also beneficial for balancing the upper and lower chakras, as well as the central meridian line. 2 minutes.
Step 4:
Come into rock pose. Clasp the hands together and rest them on the top of your head. Keeping the spine upright, begin to draw circles with the torso. This releases toxins from our cells (which is important because cell toxins often constrict blood flow). 1 minute.
Step 5:
Still kneeling, place your palms on the cheeks with the Venus Mound of the thumb pushing up under the cheekbones. Apply enough pressure to distort the face and make speaking difficult. Purse the lips and ‘drink’ your inhale in (as though slurping a long drink). Exhale powerfully through the nose. 2 minutes.
Step 6:
Sit in a comfortable easy pose (cross legged) and continue the same breathing pattern from step 5. Bringing your hands to the knees, allow your torso to bend towards one side, then come back through center and bend towards the other side. Inhale one side – exhale the other. Try to bend as deeply as possible. 2 minutes.
Step 7:
Relax on your back, arms at your side, palms facing up. Relax & drift off to sleep 11 minutes.

Self-Care Breathing Kriya: helps to reduce stress quickly and effectively

  • Sit comfortably in a meditation pose (either in a chair with feet flat on the floor, or crossed legged on the floor). Ensure your spine is straight and the crown of your head is reaching skyward.
  • Open the mouth and form a small circle – slightly bigger than if you were about to whistle.
  • Place left hand over your heart center, then right hand on top of left.
  • Close your eyes and breathe a steady, powerful inhale and exhale through the mouth (this is known as Cannon Breath), while focusing your awareness on the area under your palms.
  • Continue for 5 minutes.
  • To end, inhale and suspend the breath.
  • Relax the mouth and mentally repeat “I am beautiful, I am innocent, I am innocent, I am beautiful.”***
  • Exhale through the nose.
  • Repeat this breath suspension and affirming mantra 5 times.

Self-care is so vitally important to all of us. Think about how you could achieve a higher level of self-care in your daily routine to reduce your stress. Remember – the most important person in your life is YOU. If you aren’t ok, then how can you be ok for your friends, family, work and all the other wonderfulness in your life?!

***Beautiful:

  • dazzling
  • delightful
  • fascinating
  • gorgeous
  • lovely
  • superb
  • wonderfulness
  • radiant
  • foxy

***Innocent:

  • good
  • honest
  • authentic
  • fresh
  • well-intentioned
  • trustworthy
  • true
  • valuable
  • whole


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Mindful Book Reviews By Eve: 21 Mindfulness & Yoga Books and Card Decks For Kids

21 Mindfulness & Yoga Books and Card Decks For Kids

  1. 7 Little Monkeys by Joannie Woodward (no review just a book I like and use)
  2. 19 Books About Mindfulness and a Deck Of Cards Too 
  3. A Therapeutic Treasure Deck of Grounding, Soothing, Coping and Regulating Cards by Dr. Karen Treisman 
  4. A Therapeutic Treasure Deck of Sentence Completion and Feelings Cards by Dr. Karen Treisman 
  5. Be Good To Your Body: Learning Yoga by Roz Fulcher (no review just a coloring/activity book I like and use)
  6. Dear Girl by Amy Krouse Rosenthal (no review just a book I like and use)
  7. Go Away Big Green Monster by Ed Emberly (no review just a book I like and use)
  8. I Can Do Hard Things by Gabi Garcia 
  9. Julián is A Mermaid by Jessica Love 
  10. Little Gurus: A Yoga Discovery Book by Illustration Olaf Hajek (no review just a book I like and use)
  11. Mindful Kids Cards: 50 Mindfulness Activities For Kindness, Focus and Calm by Whitney Stewart 
  12. Mindfully Me 3-Pack (Mindfully Me Series) by Louise Shanagher and Rose Finerty 
  13. My Daddy Is A Pretzel by Baron Baptise (no review just a book I like and use)
  14. My Top 20 Books About And For Kids Yoga
  15. Silence by Leminiscates (no review just a book I like and use)
  16. Stay Cool at School by Lori Lite 
  17. Thank you, Me by Elena Reznikova 
  18. The Kindness Quilt by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace (no review just a book I like and use)
  19. The Tiptoeing Tiger By Philippa Leathers 
  20. Winston Wallaby Can’t Stop Jumping: what to do about hyperactivity in children including those with ADHD, SPD and ASD by K.I. Al-Ghani and Joy Beaney 
  21. Yoga Book Of Feelings by Mary Humphrey (no review just a book I like and use)


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Mindful Book Reviews by Eve: Mindful Kids: 50 Mindfulness Activities for Kindness, Focus and Calm (Cards) by Whitney Stewart & Mina Braun

IMG_0522Along comes a new, beautifully crafted, set of mindfulness cards for kids!

Right off the back, I fell in love with illustrator Mina Braun’s adorable drawings and appreciated their fostering of diversity. It is so important to show that every child will be able to access the mindful activities on these cards. The color palette is cheery and each picture is full of captivating details and creative patterns.

Whitney Stewart has made mindfulness easily accessible by everyone. The simple step-by-step instructions make it possible for teachers and families to use the cards anytime during the day when a mini mindful moment is needed. The cards are varied and offer entrance into mindfulness through breathing exercises, mental focus, yoga and movement activities, self-reflection, laughter, relaxing and renewing, waking up and motivating, games and kindness. So much kindness!

Above all, these cards promote 1. Loving Kindness 2. Compassion 3. Empathetic Joy 4. Equanimity-helping to cultivate kindness to self, to the known and to the unknown.

I highly recommend these cards. I know they will become a staple in my own tool kit for working with youth and bringing mindfulness into my and their lives. They should be in every classroom, library and in any space that involves youth. Younger children will need help reading them but older kids will be able to engage with them on their own.

Thank you to Barefoot Books & Whitney Stewart for sending me these beautiful cards. All opinions expressed are my own.

Would you like me to read and review for you?

Please contact me at AdamAnt_Eve@hotmail.com.


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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!”