Always Be Dancing

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


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Mindful Book Reviews By Eve: Pop-Up Shakespeare by The Reduced Shakespeare Company: Reed Martin & Austin Tichenor

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I love pop up books especially ones that take a heavy topic and break it down into little bites, making so it is much easier to ingest. Here we have the complete works of Shakespeare laid out on five double-page spreads that include pop-ups and flaps with in the pages that also pop-up. This work of non-fiction gives a great overview of Shakespeare through carefully laid out sections about his life and his works: comedies, histories, romances and tragedies. This would be a perfect book for a living art museum project! I love the plethora of details and how each flap is full of fascinating information and often hilarious recaps. I enjoyed learning about Shakespeare-about the person he was and insight into his writing and his influences that are still felt to this day especially about things you might not have known such how much influence Shakespeare has had on current English language!

The pop-ups by illustrator Jennie Maizels are wonderfully detailed and charming. Each flap and pop-up is carefully laid out to give the reader a sense of wholeness, kind of like theater in the round (another tie in to Shakespeare!).

I somehow got through school without ever having to read Shakespeare  and this was a totally fun catch up on all his greatness that I missed out on. Peaked my interest totally.

Thank you to Candlewick Press for sending me this book. All opinions expressed are my own.


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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: City by Ingela P. Arrhenius

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This book is not only coffee table worthy, it could actually be a coffee table-just add legs! I love everything about this giant-sized, hardcover picture book that is full of awesome, fun illustrations accompanied by big, bold words in varied, unique fonts. Each poster-sized page is full of delightful city attractions, richly detailed with endearing characters. This is a truly whimsical celebration of city life that will be poured over for hours-and-hours.

This book would make a perfect gift for the holidays (Can’t deny the super “wow factor” of its size) and for every day. I absolutely love the gorgeous illustrations and fancy fonts!

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¡Olé Namaste! Eve Costarelli

Thank you to Candlewick Press for sending me a copy of this book.

For more information about my accessible mindfulness/yoga/dance program, please visit alwaysbedancing dot com.


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Mindful Book Reviews By Eve: Sleep, My Bunny by Rosemary Wells

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Rosemary Wells is a household name and her adorable illustrations evoke memories of childhood’s past. Her bunnies are just so sweet and in this book, I especially love how they are superimposed onto gorgeous textural background paintings that represents the fading light of day into night. The setting sun on the title layout page is so vibrant and just radiates and shimmies right off of the page! You can just sense the chunky application of the paint. These charming illustrations of a bunny family’s nightly rituals are paired perfectly with the beautiful, simple, nature-inspired poetic text.

This is a lovely, calming bedtime story.

I highly recommend this book. It is the perfect gift for the holidays and everyday. The cover of the book has a sweet little line drawing on it and the end papers are just gorgeous splashes of color.

I am excited to be able to offer a free copy of this book to one lucky winner. You can comment on this post for an entry and then please head over to my Instagram page for more options to enter: https://www.instagram.com/mindful_book_reviews_by_eve/ (only available to the continental US) 1-d29454baf2

¡Olé Namaste! Eve Costarelli

Thank you to Candlewick Press for sending me a copy of this book (and one for the giveaway). All opinions stated are my own.

For more information about my accessible mindfulness/yoga/dance program, please visit alwaysbedancing dot wordpress dot com.


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Expressive Movement Workshop: ¡Olé Namaste! Yoga & Flamenco for Every/Body

Expressive Movement Workshop: ¡Olé Namaste! Yoga & Flamenco for Every/Body Workshop

SUNDAY OCTOBER 28th.

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¡Olé Namaste! Infuses the movements, breathwork and meditation of yoga with the music and dance of flamenco.

This workshop is fully accessible and can be done in a chair or standing and affords participants the opportunity to explore and experience the joy of movement and expression of two arts within a supportive, creative environment, regardless of experience and/or abilities.

Pre-registration encouraged.
$20 pre-registered or $25 at the door.
Register at info@openspiritcenter.org or call 508-877-8162 ​

For more information, please contact Eve Costarelli AdamAnt_Eve@hotmail.com

We will start on mats (or chairs if needed) and move on to dance. Participants may wear hard bottomed shoes or sneakers for the dancing.
Workshop will be held in Edwards Hall at Open Spirit. 39 Edwards Street, Framingham, MA.


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Mindful Book Reviews By Eve: Candlewick Press Round-Up!

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Do You Believe In Unicorns by Bethanie Deeney Murguia IMG_6664

This book allows you to believe in magic. It offers just the inkling of possibility that dreams are real and who is to say they are not. It is all about perspective and this is a book by continually posing questions and then offering up silly but plausible answers, it allows young children to relish in their dreams and keep alive the possibility of them being reality. The book affirms the creativity of childhood and presses the message to keep on dreaming and believing.

 

IMG_6667Interrupting Chicken And The Elephant Of Surprise by David Ezra Stein

This book is a hoot! David Ezra Stein is a master of hysterical play on words that will have both adults and children laughing out loud. This book builds up suspense between the punch lines and uses classic fairy tales to intertwine with the creativity of childhood and the typical home scenes of this loving chicken family. I adore the bright and bold color palette and the cartoon like animals, that somehow you feel should be talking and living just like humans do. The love between father and child is evident in this silly, adorable and gleefully ridiculous story. Loved it!

Magnificent Birds by Narisa Togo IMG_6663

This is a gorgeously illustrated non-fiction book, one that would be comfortable on a coffee table as well as in the hands of a child who loves picture books and is interested in birds and nature. Each carefully crafted linoleum-cut print is accompanied by a capsule about eat specific bird, offering just enough information to peak interest. I love the soft color palette and the lines in the prints lend a sense of movement and a life-like feeling to the birds.

This is a beautiful artistic book that highlights the love of birds, nature and looking up!

IMG_6666The Day War Came by Nicola Davies; illustrated by Rebecca Cobb (Published in association with Help Refugees)

This book took my breath away. This is not a soft story-it is a hard hitting look at the struggle for refugees, not just by being torn away from their homes by war but also as a result of ostracization by the new communities they arrive in. This is not an easy book but it is a necessary one. This simple words are full of impact, the characters drawn so lovingly but when that dark charcoal ash smothers the pages, you are lead right into the horrifying reality of a child who loses everything and everyone and then has to go on the run to survive. You feel this child’s longing, the rejection they experience but you also witness the glimmer of hope, through another child’s actions that are pure and full of compassion.

I highly recommend this book. This book is a beautiful dedication tot he refugees and an eye opener that even the simplest of actions can have the deepest effect. This book in the end embraces the beautiful uniqueness of every child symbolized through the beautiful unique chairs that gives each one of them a “seat” to be included.

The Stuff of Stars by Marion Dane Bauer; illustrated by Ekua Holmes IMG_6665

This book is a true work of art from the beautiful poetic prose to the amazing artwork that fills the pages. The rich, jewel-like color palette highlights the gorgeous pages of marbleized paper, ones that look like geodes and fireworks and the menagerie of animals and plant life that emerge through the story of creation. This book brings the story of creation that is both scientific and spiritual. This book is for children as well as for adults and it will open eyes to the wonder of us. Creative thought will be inspired and the wonder and beauty of the cosmos will be dreamed about!

¡Olé Namaste! Eve Costarelli

Thank you to Candlewick Press for sending me copies of these books. All opinions stated are my own.


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Mindful Book reviews By Eve: A Therapeutic Treasure Box for Working With Children and Adolescents with Developmental Trauma by Dr. Karen Treisman

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A Therapeutic Treasure Box for Working With Children and Adolescents with Developmental Trauma by Dr. Karen Treisman

This book is fabulous. It is an eye-opening approach to engaging children who suffer from developmental trauma through art activities but can be applied to the general population of children, as I believe that any gateway you can find that allows a child to express and release is a sure fire win! The book is stuffed full of applied practices that are easily adapted to classroom work, yoga/mindfulness programming and for anyone who works with children who wants to engage them outside the box. This book is so creative and well thought out and its myriad of applied practices provide a solid foundation for understanding, assessing, and helping children cope with developmental trauma. I am a yoga and mindfulness teacher and the ease at which I can locate and adapt the tools in this book make it 100% accessible for the as well as mental health practitioners, as the book is full of the most up-to-date clinical information too. This book is a must have for everyone who works with children, not just those who are traumatized, as we can reach out with creativity and compassion to all children to help them release what is hidden inside so they can move forward and thrive. I highly recommend this book. It’s sitting right on my work table along with Dr. Treisman’s  Therapeutic Treasure Deck of Sentence Completion and Feelings (please check out my review). This is a dynamic duo of highly accessible, especially for the non-professional, creative, socio-emotional learning techniques and activities for children. They have become indispensable to me.

I’m looking forward to reviewing her latest “Therapeutic Treasure Deck of Grounding, Soothing, Coping and Regulating Cards” 

¡Olé Namaste! Eve Costarelli

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