Always Be Dancing

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


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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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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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Day Three: Dance In The Schools 2015 Eve’s STEAM Yoga…full steam ahead!

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Q: Why are skeletons so calm?

A: Because nothing gets under their skin

Eve’s STEAM Yoga…full steam ahead!

Spine Tingling Yooooogggggaaaaaaa-oooooooooooo! That’s as ghostly as it gets!

Third day of bringing yoga to the Maria Baldwin and the Graham and Parks schools in Cambridge. I love the ability to tie my classes into the curriculum, even of not something they are learning directly but my bringing into my classes mindfulness, movement, breathing, meditation, anatomy, science, coding, art, math and fun and tying it to kinesthetic learning, I feel I am creating the ultimate STEAM-yoga class going that is fully inclusive-all ages, all abilities, Eve’s STEAM Yoga…full steam ahead!

Mr. Thrifty is 33 ½ inches tall

Mr. Thrifty is 33 ½ inches tall

I brought my Mr. Thrifty skeleton to be able to point out the spine, sit bones, skull, hands, feet. I explained that Mr. Thrifty had never been a real person, that he was made of plastic, but he gives us an authentic version of the inside framework of the human body.

Class started with me ringing the bell. I told everyone to take a moment to practice with their breath-sticks, a good way to settle everyone down. I led the first round of 5 count breathing and then one student did.

Two meditations today: Sa-Ta-Na-Ma followed by a mindfulness meditation, closing eyes, breathing, filling up and noticing and deflating. Cool air to warm air. The noticing of the body: stiff, tired, pain?…then noticing the feelings: happy, bored, nervous, peaceful?…then noticing the mind: busy, cloudy, clear, calm…

Anatomy talk:

Start by pointing out parts of Mr. Thrifty. Bones are the framework for your growing body. Need a strong frame (physically, emotionally, soulfully). Spine: 24 vertebra (sing.)/vertebrae (pl.). Between each one is a soft, cushy disc. mr thrifty

Cool Bone Facts: Choose to pepper your conversation with some of these cool facts.

  • The spine can move in 6 ways: forward and back, leaning side-to-side and twisting right and left.
  • You are born with 300 bones but some of them fuse over time and by adulthood, 206 bones.
  • There are 26 bones in the human foot
  • There are 54 bones in the wrist and hand
  • The femur, thigh bone, is the longest and strongest in the human body

 

  • The stapes, in the inner ear, is the smallest and lightest
  • The arm is mostly commonly broken by adults, the collar bone by kids.
  • Bones stop growing in length-21 years. Bone density and strength change throughout life
  • Only bone not connected to any other, Hyoid, a v-shaped bone at the base of the tongue/throat
  • Bones are made up of calcium, phospherus, sodium and other minerals as well as protein collagen
  • Bones function as the skeleton for the human body, allows for body arts to move and protects organs from impact (just like we wear a helmet to protect our skull and a seat belt in a car.) Also, produce red & white blood cells.

Sitting criss-cross yoga sauce. Feel the sit bones. Point out that these are the bottom of the pelvic girdle-rock side-to-side to feel them beneath you…below the padding of your bottom and leading them in the 6 spinal movements:

Forward and back = seated cat and cow; slow at first with a reminder to feel the spine moving; then fast to make the feeling more bright.

Leaning side-to-side

Simple Twist-lift the right arm high, hold the left knee. Lift the left arm high and place it behind you, close to the body and near where your tail would be resting (an idea here is to have everyone wear a paper tail)Breath in and lift tall, then twisting from the navel area, breathing out and twisting towards your back hand. Gently. Breath in and then on the breath out release.

6 spinal movements from cw and cat: Hands and Knees-notice spine-cow and cat (forward and back movement); dog looking at tail (side-to-side movement); thread the needle (twisting movement).

Table top to ½ scorpion to pointer dog (long and strong) to full scorpion (right arm/left leg)-feel your spine twisting, pointer dog (long and strong one more time)to ½ scorpion to table top. Repeat left arm/right leg. Rest in child’s pose. Feel your belly pressing against your legs when you breath in and then as you breath out, your body soften, like it is a piece of clothe laying across a rock. Feel your spine taking the shape supported by your legs. Feel like you can make you back rest in the inside of an eggshell.

Downward facing Dog-spine feels long. Head is right between your arms and sit bones and pressing towards the crease where the wall and the ceiling meets behind you. Legs together. One leg up, wag it around. Bark like a dog. Switch legs. Then keeping both legs together behind you, doing uni-pod jumps-trying to kick yourself in the bottom. Bend knees. Look forward. Jump to your hands, Rise up…vertebra by vertebra, slowly slowly until all your vertebra have stacked up and you are standing tall.

Sun salutation:

Mountain pose

Breath in:arms up

Breath out: Sit in your chair-reach your arms across the room, palms facing each other.

In: Downhill skier pose (knees bent, belly resting on thighs, arms reaching)

Out: Bend forward, finger s on floor, head dropped

In: ½ way lift

Out: standing forward bend-but keep knees soft…

…though lunges, standing split, plank-jump forward repeat full sequence on other side.

Just in time for Yogini Went to Sea and then Happy Jio (both by Shakta Kaur Khalsa of Radiant Child Yoga “Happy” Cd.)

Melting down to the floor. Hugs knees into chest, feel your spine. Rock side to side. Release legs. Feet towards ceiling but not candle pose as I do not like to do this pose with so many kids as I cannot be sure they will act safely towards their necks. Point and flex feet. Ankle circles inward then outward. Hug knees in. Rock and roll 3x to come to a seated position.

Here we pratice what I call “Seated Tree (Janu Sirasana)” Start in Butterfly. Stretch right leg forward. Notice you are in tree pose here. Reach left arm high. Karate chop towards the pinky toe side of the foot or leg. 3x. Last one try to drape yourself over your leg. Fallen Tree. Repeat opposite side.

Lie on back. Easy lying twist.

Specific Spinal Facts:

kids spine

  • 4 Natural curves (see diagram)
  • Cervical Spine (neck) 8 vertebrae with 50 degrees rotation; thoracic spine (mid and upper back) 12vertabrae with 35 degrees of rotation; Lumbar spine (lower back) 5 vertebrae with 5 degrees of rotation, along with the Sacral spine which has the fused bones of the tail bone and move together with the lumbar spine with 5 degrees of rotation.
  • A little rhyme to remember number of vertebrae in each area of spine: Breakfast at 8, lunch at 12 and dinner at 5.vert2

CALCIUM: Calcium for strong bones, exercise for strong bones, meditation/yoga/mindfulness for a strong mind. Good food for a healthy body.

Best sources of Calcium:

milk, cheese, yogurt, tofu

kale, broccoli, chard, spinach, bok choy, okra

Edamame, black eyed peas, white beans, almonds, sesame seeds

Figs, oranges, black strap molasses

Sardines!

IMG_3845Proprioception: Knowing where your body is in space (difficult for kids with sensory processing disorder-expand) Refer to the game show “Hole In The Wall” or your ability to walk through a door frame without banging into the sides. Think about the positive/negative space that your body creates in space. Have kids pass by each other without banging into each other.

More cool bone facts:

  • human and giraffes have the same number of bones in their necks
  • bones meet at joints; held in place at the joints by muscles and ligaments; cartilage covers the bones to protect against rubbing.
  • Fascia is sheets of connective tissue like a spiders web or a sweater inside your body that covers the whole inside, wrapping everything in one continuous sheet.* Helps connect every part of the body to the other.* Should be wavy and stretch without resistance* Trauma ( physical, emotional, scarring, inflammation)-the fascia becomes less pliable, tight,

    restricted and a source of tension in the body.

    *influences the comfort and function of your body

    * affects stability and flexibility

    * affects our ability to withstand stress and perform daily activities

 

Dem Dry Bones: Yoga Style!

Yogini connected them strong bones

Yogini connected them strong bones

Yogini connected them strong bones

Now, breath in and breath out!

Dem bones, dem bones, dem strong bones

Dem bones, dem bones, dem strong bones

Dem bones, dem bones, dem strong bones

Now, big deep in, slowly breathe out!

Your toe bone connected to your foot bone

Your foot bone connected to your ankle bone

Your ankle bone connected to your leg bone

Your leg bone connected to your knee bone

Your knee bone connected to your thigh bone

Your thigh bone connected to your hip bone

Your hip bone connected to your back bone

Your back bone connected to your shoulder bone

Your shoulder bone connected to your neck bone

Your neck bone connected to your head bone

Feel the strength of your bones.

Them bones, them bones gonna walk around

Them bones, them bones gonna hop around

Them bones, them bones gonna skip around

Feel the strength of your bones.

Disconnect them bones, them calm bones

Disconnect them bones, them calm bones

Disconnect them bones, them calm bones

As we slowly melt to the ground.

Your head bone disconnected from your neck bone

Your neck bone disconnected from your shoulder bone

Your shoulder bone disconnected from your back bone

Your back bone disconnected from your hip bone

Your hip bone disconnected from your thigh bone

Your thigh bone disconnected from your knee bone

Your knee bone disconnected from your leg bone

Your leg bone disconnected from your ankle bone

Your ankle bone disconnected from your foot bone

Your foot bone disconnected from your toe bone

Feel your relaxed, calm bones!

Them bones, them bones gonna lay around

Them bones, them bones gonna twist around

Them bones, them bones gonna twist around

Feel your calm, relaxed bones!

Dem bones, dem bones, dem calm bones

Dem bones, dem bones, dem calm bones

Dem bones, dem bones, dem calm bones

Now, big breath in, long breath out!

Yogini connected them strong bones

Yogini connected them strong bones

Yogini connected them strong bones

Now, deep breath in, long breath out! Ahhhhhhhhhhh!

 

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Youth Yoga Ties Into the Common Core Curriculum: Liquids, Solids, Gases

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The first of a four week stint of Yoga-Snacks for Dance Month in Cambridge has me combining the Cambridge Public Schools Common Core Science curriculum for the second grade level science with yoga.  At the Maria Baldwin School, I started the unit off with viscosity. In the coming weeks, we will continue to explore the connection of yoga’s kinetic energy (i.e., energy of motion)  with the amount of kinetic energy  the molecules of a substance has which then determines whether the substance is a solid, liquid or gas. Looking at such scientific terms such as viscosity, melting point, freezing point, beading and surface tension, this yoga classes will enhance the science curriculum. Students will learn properties of water and other liquids, and recognize the importance of water to living and non-living things. They will also learn about the interaction of water with different materials, and apply that knowledge to practical problems such as liquid absorption and liquid containment all the while moving their bodies, building self confidence and sharing in a non-competitive, friendship building, calming group interaction.

Day One: Viscosity: Today we started by examining the similarities and differences between water, vegetable oil and corn syrup. I brought in cups and small tubes and we poured these liquids through the tubes and discovered how quickly or slowly the liquids passed through the tubes. We used words like sticky, thick, goopy, fast, slow, clear and see through, when describing the viscosity of these three liquids.  After our liquid experimenting, we talked about how the blood in our body keeps us alive and that the heart is a pump used to distribute the blood throughout the body. In that regards, less viscous blood and a strong healthy heart are the best things for us. We discussed how to keep our hearts healthy: eat good foods, don’t over eat or eat too little, no smoking, exercise, yoga, don’t eat too much junk food, drink water, be nice to each other…which was a great segue into our yoga section.  Starting with “I Am Happy, I Am Good; Ha ha He he Ho ho Huuuu”– I noticed how everyone had smiles on their faces while doing this. We then practiced some vigorous poses and were then able to notice how are our hearts were beating faster at the end and we felt energized and happy. I then made up a short sequence and we first did it as slow as corn syrup, then a bit quicker like vegetable oil and then fast, like water through the pipes. Lying down, allowing our heart beats to slow down and bringing focus back to our breathing, we did deep relaxation with a right side/left side breath-centric focus and the noodle test (see Shakata Kaur Khalsa’s “Fly Like A Butterfly: Yoga for Children) and then Savasana.

Day Two: Beading, Surface Tension, Absorption: Today, I brought in molasses, vegetable oil and water to help the children understand the concept of beading and surface friction. We started with a short review of viscosity and then naturally that lead us to the idea of how liquids bead on different surfaces and then also a bit about absorption. Ms. Power’s 2nd grade classroom has an awesome tool- a surface camera, so I was able to work on the counter surface and the images were projected onto the screen set up ion the room. That way, the kids did not have to crowd around the counter to see. We started by pouring water, oil and molasses onto the counter surface to see what would happen-if the liquid would stay together, spread or bead. We then tried the same experiment on wax paper and then finally on paper towel.

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Yoga class started with a variation of the “Sa-Ta-Na-Ma Meditation”…instead of saying Sa-Ta-Na-Ma, we said, “Water”: Thumb to Pinky finger, “Oil”: Thumb to Ring finger, “Mola-” Thumb to Middle finger (sounds like the “a” in “back”), “-Sses” (sounds likes “says”): Thumb to Pointer.  The rest of class focused on poses that started small and spread wide (Child’s Pose (Molasses Pose) spread to Table Top (Oil Pose) which spread to Downward Facing Dog (Water Pose); Vishnu’s Couch added Tree Pose leg which added Hand to Big Toe Stretch; Mountain grew to Up Mountain which grew to Star Pose) and then also poses that started as a single “blob” but were drawn to join other “blob poses” near them, so single poses became team poses.

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Class ended with a deep relaxation that took their energy from a water state to an oil state to a slowed down oozing molasses state. Let them wiggle to flow to settle.

 

 

 

Day Three: Freezing Point & Melting Point: Moving from liquid to solid to liquid: I was inspired to do some liquid freezing tests by the questions that were posed by the students on a work sheet that was distributed: 1. What do you know about liquids? 2. What do you want to know about liquids? 3. What did you learn about liquids?

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In the second section, many of the kids were asking if corn syrup/molasses would freeze? And what about oil?

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I decided to conduct an experiment basing all freezing points against that of water to see what would happen to molasses and oil in the freezer? I made up three containers, one with water, one with oil and one with molasses and I placed them in the freezer. Every 1/2 hour (up till 2 hours and then once again over night),  I would go and check on the liquids to see what state of freezing they were in. The water froze in 2 hours, the oil never froze but got cloudy and the molasses never froze either, but became so vicious that it could not pour. After leaving the liquids over night, the oil became hard like a cake of butter and the molasses was like tar, but after 1/2 hour of being out of the freezer, all liquids had returned to their original liquid state.

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ImageThe yoga portion of the class had us first sequencing poses that flow: * I made up some rhymes to go along with the flows. 1. I am water (Mountain Pose) 2. The weather is fair  (Up Mountain-hands above head, palms touching, like an umbrella) 3. Watch me turn into the air (Jump out to Star Pose-taking up space and “air”). 1. I am water  (Warrior I) 2. I am free (Warrior II) 3. Watch me flow into the sea (Warrior III) 1. I am water (Downward Facing Dog Pose) 2. It’s so nice (Hands and Knees Table Top Pose) 3. Watch me turn into some ice (Child’s Pose). 

* Freeze Yoga Dance: I played the Song “Happy” by Pharrell, which I know is an anthem at this time and it has a nice message and appropriate lyrics. First we went through the poses that we knew…so at each music stop, I would call out “Freeze into “one of the poses” and all the kids took the same one together, then for the last few times, it was a free for all and at the music stops, they could take any pose they wanted to.

Day Four: Wrap Up and ¡Ole Namaste!:

My final experiments checked out the “freezability” of water and oil, water and molasses and finally water , oil and molasses. These were the final three question from the students. Will they freeze if combined? Well the results are in…when combined, the liquids separate and then freeze and coagulate in layers.

This final session will not be a science tie-in, instead it will be a class of yoga combined with dance, flamenco, a mixing that I call ¡Ole Namaste! which is on the cutting edge of the global yoga and dance trend infusing the movements, breath-work and meditation of yoga with the music and dance of flamenco. The students had a body stretching, breath enhancing, mind relaxing, hand clapping good time! In this fun, upbeat yoga class, that is infused with the music and dance of flamenco, students absorbed the dramatic postures and colorful flavor of flamenco while exploring yoga poses, philosophy, breath work and meditation.

My take away from this enriching experience is how important kinesthetic, or body-based, teaching methods can be in reaching students , particularly those with special needs. For all students K-12, body-based teaching is a way to reproduce curricular content and is a widely accessible step to cultivate critical thinking skills. Not only that, kinesthetic based teaching is fun to incorporate into the classroom, offering a connection to social and emotional intelligence standards as well. Kinesthetic methods have the power to inspire both individual and whole-class attention and energy levels and mental states and can assist in memory retention. By incorporating yoga into the 2nd grade science curriculum, I was able to focus, unify, and both calm down and energize students and to reach those for whom kinesthetic intelligence is a strength. This was a fun experience and enriching for myself, the teachers, Megan Powers and Karma Paoletti,  the students and the whole Baldwin community. Three cheers to the Maria Baldwin School in Cambridge, MA!  Big shout out to Nicholas Leonardos, Principal,  for his dedication to his school! And to Erica Sigal, Coordinator of Dance in the Schools.