Always Be Dancing Expressive Arts

Yoga and Flamenco for Every/body


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Book reviews by Eve: 100 Yoga Activities for Children by Shobana R. Vinay

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This book is instantly engaging. It is neat and well organized and the color palette is muted and very pleasing yet still finds a way to “pop” and grab attention. The book is full of very cute cartoonish images to accompany each pose and sequence. They are easy to follow and sweet. The kids wear aqua blue or chartreuse green, so there are no pink for girls and blue for boys images; which is very refreshing! The meditation scripts are easy to follow and read aloud to your children or students so can be enjoyed by yoga teachers, families and in school.. Although there are labels “beginner”, “intermediate” and “advanced”, the book does a very good job of not seeing yoga as linear. Everyone can enjoy the pleasant flow of this book. I can’t wait to take this one to my kids yoga classes and share it with my students. I know it will be a big hit!

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

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Book Review by Eve: Storytime Yoga by Sydney Solis

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I was delighted to receive this cornucopia of items from Storytime Yoga‘s creator Sydney Solis. After reading her bio, I can safely say that Ms. Solis has created a yoga program that is full of love, dedication and the amazing art of story telling!  She is truly one of the pioneers of the art form and I can hear her rallying cry of “We can get kids moving using story telling, vivid imagery and movement.” Without a doubt, Ms. Solis embraces “educate the whole child!”

  1. The original Storytime Yoga” Teaching Yoga to Children Through Story (Book) was one of the first books I ever bought as I began my own yoga journey. The book includes sample stories that are ancient tales brought to life with yoga movement and a “moral”. You can follow these examples, but I feel the main object of the book is to give the freedom to you to use your own stories, to find your own voice.
  2. With The Treasure in Your Heart: Yoga Stories for Peaceful Children (Book), Ms. Solis’ passion for bringing the teaching of yoga into her lessons is in full swing. This book is very user friendly and very spiritual. The story of her life she shares at the beginning, is such an honest and open introduction to who she is, that you cannot be but pulled in. Her mission is clear “to educate children in yoga through story by offering them tools for mental and physical health” which she obviously embraces fully. This books includes a nice collection of photographs of children doing the yoga poses.
  3. Peace, for the Children: Yoga, Story, Dance and Mantra Music for Children (CD) uses story, music and mantra. Through the telling of multicultural teaching tales, these story songs develop focus, inner peace and creativity. The rhythms, the repetition,the movements and the affirmations through mantra together are an all encompassing balance of body, mind and spirit. Some of my favorites were:a. Breath It In= Cool and jazzy!

    b. The Nursery Rhyme Body Jam=good giggle song and a good dance song. Make up moves for a repetitive sequence to create a moving meditation.

    c. The Golden Fish=love the steel drum, island vibe.

    d. The Skelton’s Ball (especially the Spanish version, Chumba La Chumba) So much fun to sing along!

  4. The Peddler’s Dream: Yoga with a story about following your heart (DVD) The story is very nice and I love the connecting the yoga pose as they help you embody the lesson from the story. This also includes a lovely guided meditation for the end of the yoga lesson. It is very relaxing, especially for young children who are usually very squirmy.

This is a very accessible program, making it great for both practitioners and non-practitioners of yoga to use. Personally, I have found the teachings from the two books to be an invaluable addition to my own teachings. I have used the wisdom of the story teller in many situations. Thank you Ms. Solis! Deep gratitude! I highly recommend Storytime Yoga. Go forth and give yoga!

Thank you to the Sydney Solis for sending me this amazing bundle! All opinions are my own.


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Book Review: Growing Up Mindful by Christopher Willard, PSYD

bk04652-growing-up-mindful-published-cover_1I was pleased to receive the book Growing Up Mindful from the author, Christopher Willard, PSYD. As I have become increasingly more focused on bringing mindfulness into situations where mindfulness might not be readily available, such as in schools, offices, and  with the special needs populations, I have enjoyed the wide array of books on the practical applications of mindfulness, that I can adapt to my needs. Dr. Willard is at the top of the game. This book was really user-friendly with just enough scientific knowledge mixed with common sense. A dream book of ideas to help create a sense of balance, ease and flexibility in your life, that of your family and also to those around you. From the excellent mindfulness exercises to the practical advice, Dr. Willard offers creative and useful scripts, examples and ideas on how to bring mindfulness into your day. I highly recommend this book. It is an excellent tool for anyone: parent, teacher, and boss who wants to help young people bring mindfulness into their lives.

He also has an audio companion to his book available on Sounds True and a great set of Growing Mindful card deck that features 50 unique mindfulness activities to teach awareness, how to be present in the moment, and cultivate kindness & curiosity. Perfect for all ages! 514xcamlnel-_ac_ul320_sr192320_

As a special treat, here is a YouTube link to Dr. Willard’s TedX – Growing Up Stressed or Growing Up Mindful?

Disclaimer: The author sent me a copy of Growing Up Mindful. All opinions are my own.


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Eve Costarelli’s preliminary teaching and performing schedule for 2016-2017

Dear Students & Families: past, present and future,

Welcome to my preliminary teaching and performing schedule for 2016-2017. All programs are inclusive and are adaptable.

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  1. This year, as lead youth/teen yoga and mindfulness instructor at Open Spirit Center, Framingham and their Nourishing Teachers, Strengthening Classrooms project, I am aiming to bring yoga and mindfulness to target populations of students and faculty at Framingham High School and Hoops and Homework, an award winning After School and Summer Program serving the most under privileged kids in Framingham, MA. *** My ability to reach these populations is determined by grants and private donations though the Open Spirit/ Nourishing Teachers, Strengthening Classrooms Project. For more information, please visit our donation page.
  2. I will be at Mini Miracles Childcare Center with Eve’s Awesome Yoga for ages 15 months-6 Years. Classes here are only available for center enrollees. 
  3. Anthony Tiriti Tran and I continue our educational program, ¡Olé Flamenco! with both Young Audiences of Massachusetts and Celebrity Series: Arts For All! We can come to your school or community gathering! All programs are inclusive and adaptable.
  4. On the performance front, I will be dancing for the Boston Arts Consort and Song Caravan. On the stage, you will find me either dancing traditional flamenco or my beautiful creative gypsy-freestyle, which blends my life of dance into my own artistic expression.
  5. I am available for *private and semi private work, site specific choreography, educational presentations and master classes. *My private lesson slots are filling fast.
  6. This summer, I had the awesome opportunity to bring yoga to a BINA Farm/Warrior Thunder Foundation event and I hope to do more work with both organizations.
  7. On Saturday September 24, 2016, I will be participating in Open Spirit Center’s Day of Spirit. Please join me for my gypsy-freestyle class and how mindful movement assists in freeing your artistic voice. Check Open Spirit Center/ Day of Spirit for more details
  8. Just throwing this out there: I am looking to create a 11+ yoga boys class. If you are interested or know of anyone, please share my information with them.

Please contact me for more information. All programs can be tailored to fit your needs. 

Thank you and Remember to Always Be Dancing!

¡Olé Namaste!

Eve

 

 


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Book Review: Sam And Dave Dig A Hole by Mac Barnett; Illustrations by Jon Klassen

Sam and Dave are Yoga Archaeologists

Sam And Dave Dig A HoleSam and Dave Dig A Hole by Mac Barnett is an adorable and laugh-out-loud funny story about two boys and the power of determination. When I first read the book, I was struck by how closely related it was related to how I view the journey of yoga. In yoga, we are archaeologists of our bodies, mind and soul. We endlessly inquire into how our bodies work, what feels good/bad, what makes us feel better and what are our habits. With care, kindness and perseverance, we as yoga archaeologists brush away layer after layer of “dirt”to unearth our somatic history. Like in archaeology, you do not always know what you are looking for, maybe there is nothing there or maybe there is a hidden treasure. It is a slow process. New things pop up and take you down different paths of discovery/sensation. Archaeologists and yogi’s have patience, focus, a lust for knowledge, seek the unknown, show flexibility in mind, body and soul, have inner strength and above all love what they do. Same and Dave exemplify this in the fact that they are not driven by finding a treasure but instead by the evident joy along their path of discovery. The journey is the ultimate reward!

I have already brought this book with me to a number of yoga classes and as Mr. Barnett says, there is no ceiling on this book’s suggested age limit. Like him, I say this book is wonderful for ages 4 to adult. Noting the peels of laughter from the younger kids, the smirks from the mid-graders and the dancing eyes from my teens tells me “I am correct”; it’s an all-around winner!

I highly recommend this book to everyone! The illustrations by Jon Klassen are simply adorable. The fact that Sam and Dave do not have mouths makes me think they are communicating through mental telepathy and after catching the subtle artistic changes at the end of the book, my classes were lead naturally into theorizing about the ending to the story. 

Full Disclosure: The author provided me with a copy of Sam And Dave Dig A Hole. All opinions expressed are my own.


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Using nesting dolls to explain the 5 Koshas or the 5 Realms

Yoga for kids can be geared to teach them the meaning of yoga but with lightness, lots of levity and tons of exploration. Recently, I have been thinking of how to teach the koshas to kids. I have found that studying and teaching Esoteric Anatomy (your energetic anatomy)informs my practice and teaching in a beneficial way. The study of the subtle body’s energies and structures supports my desire to focus inwards. Focusing on the energy inside your body is a great way to notice tensions, relaxation, and a great way to focus inside rather than just externally. I love feeling that the inside of me is just as powerful means for change as the outside.

In yoga, you can describe the functions of the perceptible (corporal) body and you can also describe the functions of the subtle (implied) body. The subtle anatomy of the humans is divided into five energetic sheaths known as ‘pancha kosha’. Pancha, meaning five and kosha, meaning layer or sheath. To explain these layers, I got out my Winnie The Pooh nesting doll-which by luck has exactly 5 layers. The outermost layer is Pooh, then Tigger, Eeyore, Owl and finally Piglet.

  1. (Winnie the Pooh Body) Annamaya Kosha (Food Sheath/Physical Body)– This describes the physical body composed from the five elements but mainly from food and water. With this layer you experience awareness of sensation. Imbalance can be experienced by: muscle tension, too much or too little body weight, obsession with appearance. To balance: Eat a simple diet, rich in organic foods and unprocessed food and do twists.
  2. (Tigger Body) Pranamaya Kosha (Pranic or Energy Sheath)-The Pranic or Energy Sheath, comprises the prana vayus*, nadis** and the chakras***. Prana, the vital breath which man lives by, is the bridge between the gross and subtle bodies as well as between the other koshas. Imbalance: nervous stress, anxiety, shortness of breath, depression, ADHD, exhaustion. Balance: pranayama, foreword bends for anxiety, backbends for depression.
  3. (Eeyore Body) Manomaya Kosha (Mental or psycho-emotional Sheath)– Consists of thoughts and emotions. Expressed by ego and personality. Imbalance: fear, vengefulness, clinging attachment, mental illness. Balance: visualization, meditation, mantra chanting, inversions.
  4. (Owl Body) Vijnyanamaya Kosha (Intellectual Sheath)– Governs intuition. Created by instinct. Imbalance: lack of trust, arrogance, lack of empathy, malcontent. Balance: walking and sitting meditations, solitude, spiritual study, and headstand.
  5. (Piglet Body) Anandamaya Kosha (Bliss Sheath)– The ‘bliss sheath’ is the seat of the inner essence or self and is where we metabolize our experience of Samadhi or a higher level of concentrated meditation. The mind is said to rest in its intrinsic natural state which is pure bliss. In reality (or spiritually) there are no imbalances at this level as the mind is free from ‘chitta vrittis’ or mental confusions and distractions; yet…Imbalance: ungrounded, unfocused, suicidal thoughts. Balance: use all strategies.
*Prana is the force/energy that is in our body which brings forth life. Vayu means winds. Prana viyus are energy winds inside the body.
** Nāḍis are the channels through which, in traditional Indian medicine and spiritual science, the energies of the subtle body are said to flow. They connect at special points of intensity called chakras.
***Chakra means “wheel” or “circular motion”. They are the psychic centers located in ascending order along the shushumna nadi (the spine) and are part of the nadi (“little rivers or streams”) system of yoga.
We started class lying in constructive rest, hands on belly, just noticing breath. I gave an intention for the practice which was that we were going to give our yoga practice our wholehearted attention-training the mind to regain its ability to be undistracted. This will help them to remain aware and conscious throughout the practice. I also began to explain how to do Ujjayi breath or Victory breath. With breaths in and out through the nostrils, I first had them imagine that the breath was coming from the soft spot directly in the middle of their collar bones, at the base of their throat. I explained the sound was audible only to themselves but it should have a soft oceanic pulse. Imagine they are really Darth Vader but they do not want anyone to know so making Darth Vader breath “silently”. From constructive rest, we moved on to an easy twist, something I learned in Svaroopa yoga, which I like a lot. Standing, breathing up and down from Up Mountain to Bent Over Forward Bend using the inhale to lift us and the exhale as we descended. This establishes a coordination of breath and movement. High lunge on both sides ending with Downward Facing Dog. Of course we had to try 3 legged dog with some leg wags and barks! As we began to use our breath more, I encouraged them to try their Ujjayi breathing. I also reminded them of our class intention, just a few subtle reminders and they kept on track. We then did Triangle, Tree and then Half -Moon, even going for a foot hold, which some people call Sugar Cane Pose…I just call it “Wheeeeee”! Sitting back down, Bound Angle Pose, to Revolved Head-to- Knee Pose, with Karate Chop action…taking the opposite arm, lifting it high by your ear and then bending over and karate chopping towards the pinky toe side of the extended leg to a simplified version of Marichyasana III. Of course, I threw in a number of Child’s Poses throughout.
 
What came next was unplanned, but grew into the perfect activity to tie in the koshas. We lay the yoga blocks out in a pattern, like stepping stones. As each person began their trail, they would take the first block with them and then add it to the end of the trail, reshaping the shape. To make this an exercise in concentration, I first had them say “So” “Hum” as they walked, one syllable for each step. We then internalized this and it became a silent walking meditation. They had to pay attention to their feet or they wold fall off the blocks. The shape moved around and ended up heading into the kitchen, where after each block placement, they would walk around the kitchen island and back to the head of the trail. The shape slithered through the kitchen, back out again and across the floor, to the supply closet, where the carefully placed each block back in place and then quietly went back to their mats for Final Relaxation. This unplanned activity lasted a good 15 minutes. They all worked together, silently, and the joy and happiness radiated from within.
I love yoga!
¡Ole! ¡Namaste!
 
Here are some Baboushka coloring pages and crafts: