Always Be Dancing Expressive Arts

Yoga and Flamenco for Every/body


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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: The Mindful School Leader: Practices to Transform Your Leadership and School by Valerie Brown and Kristen Olson

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I am a yoga and mindfulness teacher working in my local public school district and community and I can say first hand that the need for mindful school leaders is much needed. To create the conditions for a successful learning environment, first the infrastructure must be healthy and well-balanced.

This book is a must for every principal, teacher, paraprofessional-everyone who comes in contact with the school environment, so that they can be the active change they want to see within their own classrooms, school and community at large. This book is a veritable repository that is highlighted by extremely well documented support research and case studies making this project so real and accessible. The subjects of the case studies give voice to the possibility and proof that mindfulness can work. The provided mindfulness scripts are very handy, even offering scripts that are as short as 30 seconds!

I really appreciated how this book showed mindfulness in-motion/in-action; showing how accessible it is in our everyday lives-it’s just there-go ahead and grab it! I highly recommend this book-hop on it and find the groove that you are seeking. We are all leaders at one time or another. That is why this book is for you!

Full Disclosure: The author sent me a copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own


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Book Review: Master of Mindfulness: How to Be Your Own Superhero in Times of Stress by Laurie Grossman, Angelina Alvarez and Mr. Musumeci’s 5th Grade Class

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This is book is the real deal…totally authentic…“the truth”…it is an honest, open-hearted expression of what it takes to really stop, take a moment and respond rather than react to things that are stressful and happening right now, in real time. These kids just tell it like it is and with their words and their beautiful art, they allow us to see how they are learning to come to grips with their humanness and how they have come to appreciate and respect the need to self-regulate. The staff and kids are 100% committed to this venture and that is evident from their honesty, bravery and creativity. I really appreciate how this book is presented, from the bright color schemes, the beautiful self-portraits, and the almost graphic novel-like approach, the book offers compelling examples from young people who are coping with stress by not hurting themselves or anyone else for that matter. Instead, they are willing to be calm, insightful, and kind. Masters of Mindfulness, written by Laurie Grossman, co-founder of Mindful Schools and Director of Program Development at Inner Explorer, and Mr. Musumeci’s 5th Grade Class at Reach Academy in Oakland, California, introduces examples of how to be mindful in a straight forward approach, user-friendly manner and since it is written by kids, it is thoroughly believable.

This book is a huge success and it belongs in homes, libraries and on every park bench, school desk and bedside table!

Here is a nice trailer for it! 

Full Disclosure: The publisher sent me a copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.


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Eve’s Awesome Yoga comes to Early Education Alliance of Framingham and Ashland

IMG_0269Emotional Health: is the ability to deal with your emotions in a way that is healthy for you and for those around you. Social-emotional development influences all areas of development,  from intellectual to  motor to interpersonal skills. To feel strong within your own skin, there needs to be a balance between the information you take in, and then your ability to healthfully ingest, digest, absorb and expel it.   The greatest challenges lie in being able to communicate even when dealing with the strongest emotions, such as anger, frustration and sorrow. It is natural to feel these emotions, but how we respond to them is what separates us. Laying a path to healthy emotional security is being able to acknowledge the varied feelings you have, but being able to respond rather than just automatically react is what will help you remain strong, confident and flexible in difficult situations. If you, as an adult, can demonstrate this to your child, you will help them learn by mirroring a natural and comfortable way  to express their emotions without harm.

Craft: “Breathing” Dragons: Since the activity before class was for such young children, I modified the craft. We took paper coffee cups and cut out a large hole in the bottom. Then each child, with the help of a parent/caregiver, if needed, put glue around the inside mouth of the cup and then glued strips of colored tissue paper flowing out of the cup. There were small pompoms for eyes, some kids used two eyes, some three, and even a few ones. When finished, we put them aside to dry and then gathered in the yoga area.

Ringing the Chime: Calm, quiet breathing. We ring the bell, gently swinging the two sides of the chime together. Take a breath in with your nose, like you are smelling a flower, cookies baking, fresh mowed grass, and slowly allow the breath to seep out your nose, a soft stream just trickling out through your nostrils, as the bell continues to echo. Carefully pass the chimes to the next person, trying not to make any sounds in between. Of course there are many types of chimes and bells that can be used. I like these chimes, because of their weight and their sound. Kids really enjoy being able to do this themselves and I find that all children can do it alone, given enough time and to assist only when needed. It is very rewarding for them and its fun! I strongly suggest that any person sharing the experience should take a try and ring the chimes. That means teachers, parents, kids…we even gently chimed them in front of any babies present and they connected to the sound immediately and smiles lit up on their tiny faces!g loud, quiet…pp347

Demo Strong vs Soft breathing (cannot/can blow out candle): Usually I focus only on breathing in and out of the nose during yoga, but for this exercise, we took a breath in with our noses and then out with our mouths. For the “soft” breath out, we did a gentle exhale, one that would not blow out a candle. For the “strong” breath, we exhaled fiercely.

Breathing: STOP acronym for parents and care givers: S” Stop; “T” Take a few deep, calming breaths; “O” Observe yourself and the situation at hand so that you can respond rather than react; “P” Proceed.

Hoberman Sphere:  (the link in this title shows the sphere in action) This is the best all around visual breathing assistant. When it opens, you inhale and imagine you belly expanding; then as you exhale, let it close as your belly softens. It works for all ages and all abilities. Kids love to use the ball, as do adults. The Hoberman sphere is a structure resembling a geodesic dome, and which can fold down to a fraction of its normal size. The scissor-like action of its joints enables it to do this. If you look at it closely you can see a pattern in how its structured.  It is made up of triangles and hexagons (the regular sized toy, that is.) It is a beautiful toy both aesthetically and structurally. It is truly a mesmerizing toy where form follows function. 

Butterfly Sequence w/ Fly Like A Butterfly: Sit with bottom of feet touching. Gently flap the legs and sing: Fly like a butterfly, fly like a butterfly, fly like a butterfly up so high (two times); Next place hands together by the side of the head to represent “sleeping” and sing a little more softly: Sleep like a butterfly, (switch hands to other side of the head) sleep like a butterfly, (switch one more time) sleep like a butterfly through the night (repeat, this time sing as quietly as possible and then even just move lips and say words); hands go behind you now on the floor and you sing more robustly: Soar like a butterfly (lift up right leg and put it down), soar like a butterfly (lift up left leg and put it down), soar like a butterfly up so high (Both legs up-body is being held up by hands on the floor) (second time through at the part when both legs are up, try to release hands from the floor and even try to flap like butterfly wings) color-3B-butterfly%2872%29[1]

Little White Duck: Use the book that is based on the Raffi song (Here I interject that I highly recommend Raffi for his great kids music. He sings folk songs and is utterly appealing to kids and not bad on the ears for adults. Also, Dan Zanes. Love love love his kids music.) It is a simple book with an accompanying song. ..There’s a little white duck sitting in the water, a little white duck, doing what he oughta…In the book you have duck pose (squat and flap wings and say quack quack quack), take a bite of the lily pad (make a bite sound and rub your tummy), frog pose with hopping and ribbits (then have them jump back to their lily pads-whatever their space marker is), bug pose (lie on back with feet and hands in the air and say buzz buzz buzz); snake pose (on you belly, add hissing and squiggling); when there is no one left in the water, we all pretend to cry, boo hoo hoo. In the song their is the refrain “I’m glad” and I always cue the kids to sing with me at this part, “I’m g…….!” This book is full of fun onomatopoeia for kids!  Little-White-Duck-9780316733977

Breathing Dragons: Get your (now dried) Dragon Breath craft. Strong breaths. Soft breaths. I once again talked about the differences between  strong, happy, athletic breath and soft, calm, relaxing breath. The strong breaths really whip up the tissue paper, making the dragon breath fire. The soft breath, a gentle rustle is all.

Mindful Movement Series:  Here I combine flowing yoga poses, rhythmic passages on the feet, clapping, snapping, counting. Doing things with a flowing sense of synchronicity in a group, is a feel good activity. The movement, the community, and  the rhythm all blend together for a fun, positive experience. I like to use a variety of songs, but some of my favorites include: Sleep Tonight (Junior Boys Remix) by Stars; All That Meat And No Potatoes by Fats Waller; Tangos De Mi Novia by Son De La FronteraIMG_8293

I Am Happy: Verse based meditation technique. Combines vocalization of the affirmations good and happy, the vowel sounds and some laughter yoga. See Eve’s Awesome Mini Yogi Yoga comes to Mini Miracles Childcare Center, Framingham, MA 

Yogini Went To Sea (click this title for a link to the video): The greatest standby song/dance/meditation on the planet. It combines tapping, repetition, a fun sound track (by my dear friend Shakta Khalsa) and many many giggles. By singing and dancing, your mind is focused in the moment, adding an element of mind calming). The words are: Yogini went to sea, sea sea; to see what she could see, see, see; but all that she could see, see, see; was the bottom of the deep blue sea, sea ,sea (tap forehead); Yogini went to jai, jai, jai… (tap upper arm at bicep); Yogini went to knee, knee, knee (cross body tap of opposite knee); Yogini went to oowajawa, to see what she could oowajawa, but all that she could oowajawa, was the bottom of the deep blue oowajawa (rub tummy); now of four motions in order: Yogini went to sea, jai, knee, oowajawa…. (tap forehead, tap arm, tap knee, rub tummy). As kids get older, I have them start with one hand, switch as the song gets faster and then on the third and fastest time, keep switching hands.

Savasana: Body scan deep relaxation script

 

Create the scene for a quiet relax time.

Everyone please rest on your back or your tummy. Choose the one that you feel will be most comfortable. The one that will let you be restful and quiet. Breath in through your nose, like you are smelling a delicious flower or some yummy cookies baking and as you breath out through your nose, you can feel your whole bod, from head to toe, relax.

  • Settle into your space/bed
  • Breathe in, out
  • Notice how the breath in fills you up with air, like a balloon, and you feel light and free.
  • Feel how the breath out allows your whole body to soften and relax; you feel like your body is just a cloud floating in the big blue sky..
  • Can you allow yourself to be very still and quiet? This means your mouth is not talking, your body is not moving and your mind is not trying to figure things out.
  • Breathe in, out
  • I am going to tell you to think about various parts of your body. I do not want you to touch these body parts, just allow yourself to think about them. Bring the attention to their heads, arms/hands, belly, legs, feet/toes. Pausing to breath in/out between each body part. Tell them to feel light, free, happy, good, friendly, still, healthy, loving, lovable, whole, complete, perfect. Say nice things to them. Then be silent. Maybe for a minute. Maybe longer?

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¡Olé!IMG_2771

 

                                                    All written material is the sole property of Eve Costarelli, DBA Always Be Dancing Mindful Movement/ Eve’s Amazing Yoga/ ¡Olé Namaste!


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A short yoga sequence to help teenagers out of “slump mode”

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Teenagers are notorious slumpers. They then grow up to be slump shouldered adults. Help your teen lift up! Have them imagine their breast plate as a display case, displaying a beautiful diamond necklace. Feel the broad open chest supported by the broad, open back, the shoulder blades sliding down the back, the heavy tail bone, the lifted abdominal muscles…the stance is proud and open, but relaxed.

Here is a short yoga sequence to help teenagers out of “slump mode”:

1. Lie on back, with feet on floor (This is called Constructive Rest). Starting on the right side, bend your right arm and slide the lower arm under your lower back, so that the fingers of that hand can be seen on the opposite side of the body. Lower your body back down. You may need to adjust your arm to relieve any discomfort or tingling. Now simply breathtwo in and out. Feel the lower back resting on the arm. You can roll your spine up and down, pressing the lower back into the arm a bit and then releasing. This is a gentle stretch for the front of the shoulder and the lower back. Repeat on left side. Adding a small neck bolster by rolling a blanket is a nice addition and helps to create space between the neck and shoulders and gently helps to stretch and relax the neck.

2. Now back to Constructive Rest. Roll completely onto the right side of your body. Knees are bent at hip height. Keeping the knees in place, slide your feet slightly forward, so that you can see your toes and then retract them just enough so they can no longer be seen. Allow your left arm to reach to the ceiling, elongating all the way from the center of your back and then roll the top portion of your body open so that the shoulders can rest on the floor. In this twist, the chest is open to the ceiling, while the knees and lower body are resting on the floor. If there is discomfort in the lower body, place a folded blanket between the thighs, possibly slide the knees a little higher or lower to relieve. If there is discomfort in the upper body, instead of opening the left arm all the way to the floor, allow it to rest on the ribs or even just allow the bent elbow to touch the floor. Breath. Repeat on left side.

 

3. Next bring both knees into chest and hug them in. Breath. Feel the belly pressing against the thighs on the inhale and a whole body softening on the exhale. DKTC

4. Roll over to Child’s Pose. This is a great stretch for the hips, back, shoulders and neck. Breath. Do you see how similar it is to the preceding pose? After a few moments of rest, sit up, onto the heels. Clasp hands behind the back and rest the thumbs on the sacrum. Feel a broadening and lifting in the chest as the shoulders open. Press the knuckles down towards the floor and create a back bend in your upper back. Head might rise to  look at the ceiling but only allow the eyes to go as far as the nose can point. Return to regular Child’s Pose and rest for a few breaths.

5. Put hands on floor, by knees and curl toes under. Press up into Standing Child’s Pose. This is basically a forward bend, but the knees are soft and bent so that the abdomen and possibly ribs can lay on top of the thighs. This gives a great stretch for the back. Feel you tail bones heavy and feel your front draping. Hands can rest on the floor or hold the elbows for more stretch…or put hands on blocks if the floor is still too far away.zero

6. Standing. Place a beanbag on the top of the head, not for balance, but to allow the head to be up, the chest to be lifted, the shoulders are relaxed. The tailbones are heavy so that back is in neutral. Walk around. Breath.


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Yoga For Flamenco Dancers

Yoga For Flamenco Dancers: Mr. Thrifty Skeleton (Señor Esquelto Económico)

Basis for the sequence:

  1. Getting in touch with the spine and pelvis to coordinate movement with emotion
  2. Strengthening the ball of foot for tacaneo
  3. Arch of back/back-bends for Vuelta Quebrada
  4. Ankle strengthen for balance

Take a few moments to prepare your self for practice.

To get an understanding of the sensation of your spine and it’s ability to flex, extend, twist and lean, start on your back, legs out, arms resting by sides, just noticing which areas along your backs/spine touch the floor. I use a Mr. Thrifty Skeleton (Señor Esqueleto Económico), to refer to when describing bones and movement. Constructive Rest

After that, bend your knees into constructive rest, and then notice the changes that happen in relation to your back against the floor. With knees bent, it also made it possible to gently rock the pelvis back and forth. Using Señor Esqueleto Económico, you can see how the spine connects into the skull at the Occiput Occiputand how it runs all the way down to the tail bone. (Interesting fact: We are born with about 300 bones but by the time we reach adulthood, due to fusing, we only have 206). an-elegant-perfect-sunflower-in-a-flower-pot-vector-1650453Imagine that your spine sits into the pelvis as a flower in a pot. With good strong roots and good balance, the stem (spine) grows strong and the energy flows and is able to balance the flowering head atop with ease, grace and strength. The neck spine (cervical spine) is longer than you think. A good way to check into this part of the spine is to notice how it feels when turned and when the head is dropped forward towards the chest. You will notice a pull somewhere between you shoulders and you feel the full length of the neck. The neck spine has the greatest degree of rotation, then the lower back and hip spine (lumbar spine) and finally the middle section of the back spine (the thoracic spine). The joints in the lumbar spine allow for forward and backward movement but limit rotation.

IMG_6454IMG_6455From constructive rest, hug the knees into the chest, allowing the lower back to spread out onto the floor. You can even feel , by your lowest ribs, the floating ribs, the sensation that a pair of wings is unfurling. Then, hold onto your knees, and practice wave breathing: on the inhale, gently allow the knees to pull away, just until the arms straighten and on the exhale, gently pull the knees towards the belly, aiding in the removal of the air; this action is like a bellows. Noticing here, the same rocking of the pelvis you observed earlier and noting now the feeling of the subsequent spinal movement. The knees into the chest are like a forward bend and the knees away from the chest create a subtle back-bend. 

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Seated in easy pose, exploring the 6 directions of the movement of the spine. Always like to pull out Bumpy Camel here, then side-stretch, and seated twist. Move onto hanIMG_6464IMG_6461IMG_6460ds and knees to explore this again: cat and cow (once again noting the flexion and extension of the spine), easy kneeling twist with a chicken wing pose and dog looking at tail pose (for side stretch).

Child’s Pose to Baddha Konasana to Hero’s pose and the discussion of the difference between this position of the legs in relation to the body vs. “W” Sitting (see http://www.skillsforaction.com/w-sitting). Start with the simplest variation of Hero’s pose. To note as you progressed through the pose, you might need to add props if you are not able to sit comfortably on the floor. Some people might be comfortable enough to continue on into Supta Virasana- Reclining Hero’s pose (this of course can also be done with props to attain the full pose). Use the first two poses as preparatory poses to doing Hero and to note some of the benefits of Hero’s pose are : Stretching of the quadriceps; Keeping the knee joints healthy; Keeping tendons in the back of the knees properly aligned; Strengthening the tops of the feet and ankles; Strengthening of the arches and broadening of the sacrum.    

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Standing now. More arch work with Scrunches and Toe Lifts. Imagine you are standing on two silky scarves, one under each foot. Try to scrunch up your foot as you drag the scarf towards your heels. Do this 5 times in a row, 4 quicker attempts and then on #5, a longer hold. Relax the foot and then lift up all ten toes and flare them open, keep the heel and the ball of the foot on the floor. When laying the toes back down, first time is a regular drop, second time, you try to drop the toes baby toe first to the big toe, one at a time and on the third time, you try to drop the big toe first down to the baby toe. I then repeat this whole sequence once or twice more (scrunches through toe lifts). Even if you cannot actually drop the toes separately, just try to imagine that you are doing it. Sometimes the brain needs to tell the toes what it wants them to do to teach them.

Tree on a block. A fun variation of tree pose that adds a little challenge and a little more focus on the core stabilizing muscles that wrap around your lower spine and help it plant deeply into the pelvis so the two parts of your body can work harmoniously. Most physical movement requires a rotation of the torso. Our core muscles actually form an X across the front and back of your body. This means the body acts by connecting the right shoulder with the left hip and visa-versa. From your neck and your upper back, around the sides of the body, through the upper rib muscles, that lift your arm pit, wrap inwards, travel towards the opposite side of the body. They pass by the hips, criss-cross then end up in the opposite thigh. Known as the Serape Effect.

Brief History of Flamenco as imagined through the migrants from India, who arrived in Spain in the 15 century, and came to be known as the Gypsies. These people are believed to have been composed of three groups/castes: metal smiths working in iron, copper and bronze; practitioners of animal husbandry such as horse doctors, farriers and dealers in live stock; and entertainers such singers, dancers, conjurers, magicians, jugglers, fortune tellers and acrobats. These fiercely proud nomadic groups, divided into two major migratory routes with one faction heading northward towards Russian along the Caspian coast and the other faction heading southward through Iraq, Persia, Egypt, Arabia and North Africa before arriving in Spain via Mediterranean Sea through the Straits of Gibraltar on trading vessels and overland caravans trains, known as kumpanias. Both the music and culture of these people were highly influenced by the cultures they had reached along their journey and the melodies and rhythms alive in the culture of Spain that the gypsies heard upon their arrival planted the seeds for the birth of the art of flamenco. Flamenco has evolved as a forceful and exciting art form. It involves both physical and emotional intelligence and is a dance form characterized by hand clapping (palmas), percussive footwork (tacaneo), intricate hand (floreo), arm (braseo) and body movements combined with a highly tuned in emotional structure that spans the deepest songs of the original gypsies through the styles influenced by Cuba and South America all the way to today, with traditional flamenco being fused with jazz, pop and World Music styles. Without dispute, flamenco is the most familiar form of Spanish dance. With its fire and intensity, its insistent rhythms, its soulful guitars and its passion, it has the power to draw people in and after watching a performance, everyone is ready to strike a pose and stomp their feet. ¡Olé!