Always Be Dancing

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


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Chair Yoga to Balance The Injured Body

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I was inspired to create a chair yoga sequence with the aim to create healing energy for realignment physically, mentally and emotionally for a friend of mine, who is recovering from a Tibial Plateau Fracture . Not only does a physical injury throw the body out of physical alignment, like the game Topple where every little shift away from center creates the need for the body to readjust itself to be balanced. The left compensates for the right, the right compensates for the left and back and forth it goes. Like in the game, though if too much weight is shifted to one side, it topples over. In the human body,  this can lead to other injuries, depression and general deterioration of health.

Yoga’s goal is to balance body, mind and spirit. It uses various modalities to affect the positive effect on the physical body, the emotional state, the state of consciousness and the energetic impression , but not solely through postures that are often unattainable for injured, stiff, elderly and physically disabled persons. I realize one of my gifts,  is to help bring movement and balance back to these bodies, inside and out. I feel my yoga creates a safe space for healing, flying, dancing….wholesome goodness to create a pathway for self-healing.

The Sequence (click here for video of the sequence)

  1. 5-Minute Breathing (each section 1 min; between each section, release the nostrils and breath deeply several times with both nostrils):
  • Breathe only with the left nostril (male, calming). Block of the right gently.
  • Breathe only with the right nostril (female, fiery). Block the left gently.
  • Breathe in with the left and out with the right, only.
  • Breathe on with the right and out with the left, only.
  • Alternate Nostril Breathing: In with the left, out with the right; in with the right, out with the left
  • If you have trouble inhaling or exhaling, with a finger, gently lift the area on your face, near the cheekbone, on the same side as the nostril. Lifting that area can open the sinus passage and allow for freer breath. You can notice this in the accompanying  video of the sequence. Before beginning the next exercise, take a moment to make sure your feet are aligned properly-big toes slightly in so that the outer edge of the foot is parallel with the outer edge of the mat. Feel the triangle beneath the foot between the pads of the big and little toes and the center of the heel. Notice that the knees should follow the same line created between the second and third toes.
  1. Spinal Flex (2-3 min)
  2. Suffi Grind/Coffee Grinder, both directions (2-2 min)Processed with VSCO with g3 preset
  3. Side Twists/Washing Machine (2 min)
  4. Shoulder Shrugs (2 min)
  5. Lazy Neck Rolls, both directions (1-1 min or 2-2 min)Processed with VSCO with g3 preset
  6. Alternate Leg Stretches (2 min)
  7. Life Nerve Stretch with Breath-of-Fire (BoF) , both sides (1-1 min or 2-2 min)
    Processed with VSCO with g3 preset
  8. Downward Facing Dog (2 min)
  9. Bridge (2 min) or 12-26 times
  10. Ego Eradicator w/ BoF (1-3 min)Processed with VSCO with g3 preset
  11. Healing Meditation/Rest (5 min)

Play List:

  1. Triple Mantra by Bachan Kaur*
  2. Aeo (pts 1 & 2) by Brian Briggs
  3. Circle by Adam F.
  4. Expansions by Lonnie Liston Smith
  5. Brazilain Rhythm (Fearless Mix) by Mondo Grosso (esp. good for Breath of Fire)
  6. Life Is Something Special by NYC Peech Boys
  7. Bah Sama (Yoruba Soul Mix) (esp. good for Breath of Fire)
  8. Ra Ma Da Sa Sa Say So Hung by Ajjet Kaur**

*Aad Guray Nameh, Jugaad Guray Nameh Sat Guray Nameh, Siri Guroo Dayv-ay Nameh  (Surrounds you with a power shield of protection)

Aad Such Jugaad Such Hai Bhee Such Nanak Hosee Bhee Such (Clears away obstacles that block your personal growth)

Aad Such Jugaad Such Hai Bhai Such Nanak Hosee Bhai Such (All obstacle remover)

**Ra Ma Da Sa, Sa Say So Hung is the healing meditation used to generate healing energy for friends, family, ourselves, the planet.

 


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Today’s Kriya: Balance Is The Basis Of Health

Today’s class blends the balancing effect of Alternate Nostril Breathing with the Kriya for Polarity Balance. These two will help to bring balance to the energy channel that runs down the center of your body, the channel to allow the prana, your life force, to flow freely & energetically throughout the body.

Two main components of prana are the prana and apana vayus, or winds. Prana vayu is located in the head by the third eye and its energy pervades the chest area (like an inhale). Its flow is up and out. Apana Vayu is located by the pelvic floor and its energy pervades the lower abdomen. Its flow is down and out (like an exhale).The main channel is the Shushumna Nadi-the central energy channel that is flanked by, on the left, the Ida, female moon energy that starts at the root and ends n the left nostril and on the right, by the Pingala, masculine, sun energy that ends in the right nostril. These two nadis, criss-cross the shushumna nadi, resembling a cadusa, intersecting at each chakra.

Alternate Nostril Breathing Exercise (click here to follow along as I do the breathing exercise.)

Breathing long and deep through the right nostril will give energy.

Breathing long and deep through the left nostril bring calmness.

Breathing long and deeply through alternate nostrils simultaneously  soothes, calms and energizes the whole nervous system which will revitalize you.

1 min. each

  1. Breathe only with the left nostril.
  2. Breathe only with the right nostril.
  3. Breathe in with the left and out with the right.
  4. Breathe in with the right and out with the left.
  5. Close the right nostril, inhale deeply through the left nostril. At the end of the inhale, close the left nostril and exhale through the right. Now alternate sides, back and forth.

To End: Inhale deeply, hold the breath a few seconds, lower the hand, and exhale.

Seated Warm-Up: Hip Circles; Spinal Flex; Twist; Lazy Neck Rolls; Butterfly; Boat…

Kriya for Polarity Balance 

Here is a video of me performing the exercises.

  1. Tilted Balance: Extend through the core. Balance is the basis for health. 2 min. each side.
  2. Demi-Squats: Inhale up; Exhale down. This exercise will put pressure on
    the hips, spine and the muscles along the back. 5 min.
  3. March w/ Robot Arms: move the arms back and forth with a precise and controlled
    movement. The left arm should move forward as the right knee comes up. Continue alternating sides. For the final minute, increase the pace, moving powerfully.
    5 min.Chair Yoga Kundalini Kriya for Polarity Balance
  4. Wide Legged Hip Circles: Allow the entire body to move and rotate. 3 min. 
  5. Heel March: Dance on your toes. Hips move. 3 min.Chair Yoga Kundalini Kriya for Polarity Balance
  6. Yoga Jumping Jacks: Rhythmic 3 min. IMG_4622
  7. Dancing Pointer Dog: Try to kick butt. The left arm should move forward as the right foot kicks back. Continue alternating sides. 3 min. IMG_4623
  8. Dancing Pointer Dog  w/ Partner: Face a partner. Do same exercise but grasp hands and lift legs together on alternate sides as legs go back. 1-1/2 min. 

  9. Partner Squats: Spread legs. Hold hands facing each other. Squat in demi-knee bends, then come up. Inhale up, exhale down. 1-3 min.
  10. Straight Line w/ Arms-Over-Shoulder Group Standing Meditation: Close eyes. Stand still. 1-5 min (play Electric Boogie). Feel the group electricity. IMG_4270
  11. Seated Cross Heart Mediation: Sit in an easy meditative pose. Fold and hold the hands at heart center. (Listen to Guru Ram Das Lullaby by Bachan Kaur. Sing along in head)
  12. Rest w/ Chakra Meditation: Lie down and rest. Meditatively sleep.

Playlist:

  1. Ong Namo by Eeday
  2. Breathe-Prana Apana by Ananda Yogiji f. Jaya Lakshmi
  3. My Friend Is A Seahorse (James Priestley & Dan Berkson’s Bariz e Syntho Remix) by Kissogram
  4. Ease My Mind (DJ Premier Mix) by Arrested Development
  5. Om Zone Pt. 1 by Stephen Halpern
  6. Circles by Adam F
  7. Adi Shakti-Bhakti Mantra by Ajeet Kaur
  8. Om Namaha Shiva by Sheila Chandra
  9. Ek Ong Kar by Tina Malia
  10. In White Rooms (Neo Mix) by Booka Shade
  11. Wahe Guru by Jai-Jagdeesh
  12. Electric Boogie by Marcia Griffith
  13. Ek Ong Kar by Simrit Kar
  14. Guru Ram Das Lullaby by Bachan Kaur
  15. Humme Hum by Mirabai Ceiba
  16. Eterno Sol by Balwant Kaur & Gurinder Singh

 


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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: Breath Friends Forever: A Mindfulness Story for Kids by Kids by Laurie Grossman & Ms. Moses’s 4th Grade Class

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Breath Friends Forever: A Mindfulness Story for Kids by Kids by Laurie Grossman & Ms. Moses’s 4th Grade Class. Instant Help Books/New Harbinger.

Truly one of the best things about this book, Breath Friends Forever: A Mindfulness Book for Kids by Kids, and its predecessor, Master of Mindfulness: How to Be Your Own Superhero in Times of Stress, is that it is truly for kids by kids. The voices are clear and strong and young. This simple, sweet story, illustrated with a creative collage of cartoon characters and real life photos, offers various ways to remind us to practice mindfulness whenever needed. The hand gestures, the breathing, the getting in touch with inner peace all combine to offer easy-to-follow instructions for calming down during times of big emotions. The nicely written story offers good factual data on how deep breathing affects and effects the body, mind and energy. This mid-grade book respects the curiosity and personage of the older child. The main message is that a friend is the greatest gift: both to give and to receive.

This is a fabulous authentically voiced mindfulness book for mid-grades. I highly recommend this book. It should be in homes, libraries, schools, therapist offices etc. It is not only a fun, mindful story, but it also serve an important purpose as a book for children to help bolster their self-control, inner peace and resiliency.

Eve Costarelli

Thank you to Laurie Grossman for sending me this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

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

#mindfulbookreviewsbyeve #children #picturebook #midgrade #mindfulness #alwaysbedancing #evecostarelli #speedyyogini #speedykundalini #fiction #nonfiction #selfhelp #parentingtip #teachingtip #forkidsbykids


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Mindful Book Reviews By Eve: Angry Octopus: A Relaxation Story by Lori Lite

Angry Octopus: A Relaxation Story by Lori Lite

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This is a very well-crafted relaxation story that takes you, step-by-step, through active progressive muscular relaxation meditation.  The story pays special attention to bringing attention to feelings and sensations and it highlights important concepts such as self-reflection, body awareness and cooperation. This is a great book to read aloud to your own children as well as any children you have the opportunity to read to! It makes a great addition to a yoga class or a bedtime ritual and school teachers could use it to help their students relax. The sea creatures are adorable and I love the brightly colored palette and the blurred background lends to the feeling of being under the sea. This book pairs perfectly with Angry Octopus: Color Me Happy, Color Me Calm by Lori Lite (see my review here). Together, they pack a power punch and are great books to help children to enjoy being calm and aware.