Always Be Dancing Expressive Arts

Yoga and Flamenco for Every/body


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It’s Great Time for Yoga & Flamenco!

882824_10151907518920295_1244060619_oNow is a great time to bring one of Eve Costarelli’s varied mindfulness programs to your school, center or special event. Eve Costarelli will seamlessly adapt her programs to fit yours and your students/residents needs.

  1. ¡Olé Flamenco! Educational Flamenco Presentation:*September 15 – October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month. This dynamic, experiential arts learning program can help bring Hispanic cultures to life for your students. Available all year.

    a. With guitarist, Antonio Tiriti

    b. Solo

     

  2. ¡Olé Flamenco! Workshops* & Classes*in addition to or separate from the educational presentation

    a. with guitarist Antonio Tiriti

    b. Solo

  3. In-School Yoga & Mindfulness (working with school districts)

     

  4. Accessible Flamenco & Yoga (for populations who need accessibility and adaptability)

Programs are available for grades K-12; college level; corporate events; senior living facilities and private hire. All programs are inclusive and can be adapted as needed for those with special needs including physical disabilities, medical conditions, intellectual difficulties, or emotional problems, including deafness, blindness, dyslexia, learning difficulties, and behavioral problems.

Please contact Eve Costarelli for scheduling and pricing:

AdamAnt_Eve@hotmail.com or 617-216-1643

All About Eve:

For over 20 years, Eve has been an arts educator, teaching flamenco, tap dance, and yoga to children through seniors citizens of all levels and abilities. She practices a therapeutic and body-centric approach to teaching to give her students both physiological and psychological benefits from these art forms.

Eve is the lead teacher for Framingham’s own Open Spirit Centers Nourishing Teachers, Strengthening Classrooms project, bringing mindfulness into both the Framingham Public Schools and Hoops & Homework, an award winning after-school program for the neediest children in Framingham.

Ms. Costarelli is a familiar face on the Boston dance scene, and along with guitarist Antonio Tiriti, brings educational and experiential flamenco performance and workshops all over New England. Eve and Anthony are past members of Young Audiences of Massachusetts and Celebrity Series: Arts for All!

Eve Costarelli is the creator of Always Be Dancing Expressive Arts: Yoga and Flamenco for Every/Body.

All programs are adaptable, accessible and inclusive www.AlwaysBeDancing.com

 

 

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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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¡Olé Namaste!

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Pictured above from top left: Two students strike a pose, Hurley School, Boston; Eve Costarelli (AKA Eva Lorca); Students learning palmas at St. Stephens after-school program, Boston, MA; Visual representations of flamenco; Antonio Tiriti and Eve performing at the Natick Farmer’s Market; Students performing the story of Ferdinand The Bull; Eve teaching how braseo to students of St. Stephen’s after-school program, Boston, MA; Eve and some students. (Thank you to Celebrity Series and Robert Torres for the pictures of Eve and St. Stephen’s)

I am a flamenco dancer. Through this dance, I communicate my kinship to the gypsies, a group of wanderers/nomads/pilgrims who migrated from Northern India during the 8th and 9th centuries. One route that they took was through Saudi Arabia and Northern Africa, before arriving in Spain through the Straits of Gibraltar. These gypsies were comprised of expert metal workers, animal tenders and entertainers. They arrived in Spain when the country was controlled by the Moors (made up of Arabs, Syrians and Berbers). In Spain, the gypsies mixed freely amongst the veritable melting pot of cultures. In Andalucía, a region in Southern Spain known as the birth place of flamenco, the gypsies found a land that suited them and found a sense of connection with the people who lived there: the Jews, the Moors and the Spaniards. The gypsies absorbed the diverse cultures around them: the music of the Moors, the songs of the Sephardic Jews and the dances of the Spaniards and then coupled with their heritage from India, they transformed the music, song and dance into the art of flamenco.

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My journey to become a flamenco dancer has been a deeply personal artistic pursuit. I have found that the greatest joy of flamenco is discovering my interpretation and style within the art form. As a flamenco dancer, I possess the capacity for self-controlled passion and emotional expression which becomes the underlying energy which motivates me to dance. This is my life force, my soul, my chi, my prana. Duende, the passion and inspiration within, is the heart of the flamenco artist. It is the transfer of emotions across space. It is the energetic imprint of the raw emotion released as a result of a performer’s intense emotional involvement with the music, song and dance. It is in the sum the energy the dancer takes from the earth, drawing it up through the soles of their feet. It travels through the body electrifying the the base, the core, the heart and shines forth through the crown of her head.

It is in this sensation filled space that I find the connection between flamenco and yoga. I speculate that the gypsies created the movements in flamenco directly in correlation to the yoga body. The energy centers, the chakras, directly speaking to the emotional output of the artist. I believe that the gypsies brought with them an underlying understanding of yoga and that this physical, emotional and spiritual connection to the body was then naturally incorporated into flamenco’s expression. It is fascinating to teach flamenco under the label of mindfulness. I incorporate it (plus a smattering of other rhythmic and contemplative movement forms) into all of my youth yoga classes. I find that flamenco is a perfect addition as its many benefits go hand-in-hand with the benefits of yoga.

Flamenco and Yoga both:

  • Stimulate memory, thinking and retention
  • Increase the ability to focus, listen, observe and absorb
  • Reduce Stress
  • Strengthen the heart muscle, both physically and emotionally
  • Increase positive energy
  • Develop balance, flexibility and coordination
  • Strengthen confidence, patience and risk taking skills
  • Build community
  • Deepen sense of self
  • Expand world view
  • Heighten happiness
  • Help you get in touch with your emotions and give you a safe outlet for their release
  • Cultivate accessibility, adaptability and inclusivity

When you want to plant a flower, you first need to till the soil, nourish it, plant the seeds, water it, and then sit back and wait to see the blossom….now in relation to the flamenco body. If you imagine that the soil line is at the hips, so your legs and your feet are the roots below the surface. The roots grow down and ground the dance to the earth. From the waist up is the blossom, growing from the soil line (which is your hips). This is the blossom. With good, strong roots, you then use the upper body to create the shapes and lines true to flamenco, building out of the hips and allowing the legs and feet to move separately.”

My favorite part about teaching is sharing my love of movement and making both the arts of flamenco and yoga accessible. Yoga is not one tangible thing. It is not movement; it is not breath; it is not meditation. What it is, is all of these things. Each of these elements leaves an energetic imprint, a vibrational frequency on the person, and that is the yoga. I love both yoga and flamenco in my life and I live to share them. With each personal exploration of my own energy’s movement, I teach. Yoga and flamenco are deeply connected to my soul, and I am constantly evolving. I choreograph the dance between effort and surrender. I find such joy in these sensations. All I want to do is to share them with my students.


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Dance In The Schools- Day One: What is yoga?

Dance In The Schools- Day One: What is yoga?

Dance In The Schools- Day One: What is yoga?

(Included at the end is a classroom/home assignment: How to make a Happiness Collector)

Funded by both Dance In the Schools and Friends of Baldwin, I am thrilled to be back for my sixth year at the Maria Baldwin Elementary School, Cambridge, MA, teaching my own Always Be Dancing Adaptive Movement program with their amazing second grade classrooms. This year, they have three second-grade classrooms and I am able to see each group 5 times. Having this opportunity to grow each year with the students and staff is priceless. Also, I love seeing the past participants who are now in third, fourth or fifth grade. Whenever they see me, they jump into tree pose or even strike a flamenco pose (as I also integrate my program with flamenco). This school has great community spirit and I love the diversity and how it is celebrated.

Good Behavior In Yoga:

Good Behavior In Yoga Class:

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I deliver the rules verbally, also pointing out that they can read along that there is a picture for each rule that shows what I am asking them to do. That way there are many ways to help them remember the rules.

  1. I stay on my mat. This is so each child has personal space. We take a moment to look at our mats, the size, the color… I asked them to think of a color that makes them feel happy. Holding an imaginary Hula Hoop, we then cover our whole mat, including ourselves, with a bubble of this color. Inside our bubble we feel happy, good and safe.

  2. I listen with my ears. That way they can hear the directions that are being given

  3. I watch what my yoga teacher is doing. I remind them that I will most likely being doing what I am asking them to do, so if they watch me, they will always know what is being asked of them.

  4. I try my best to do each yoga activity. Yoga is about trying, noticing, feeling. Just give things a try and if you need help…

  5. If I need help, I can ask my yoga teacher. If one child needs an adaptation of an activity, we all do it. Its just something else to try!

  6. If I need a break, I can take Child’s Pose or I can sit quietly on my mat. OK…a big one. I stop everything here and I go through and teach what I call the “three resting poses” First, I teach Child’s Pose, have everyone take a breath or two to feel this pose in their bodies. Then we roll forward onto our bellies, for Crocodile Pose, everyone needs belly-time! Once again a few breaths to feel the pose. Then we flip over onto our backs, and I teach Gingerbread Man Cookie Pose. This is the traditional savasana pose. Take our breaths. When we all sit back up, I ask them to think about which pose was the most restful for them because I will ask them later during class to do that pose.

  7. I use a quiet voice. Enough said!

  8. I keep my hands to myself. (OK this one should really be up by “staying on your mat” That will be on the updated poster!) Here I bring back the color bubble. Keep your hands to yourself. Do not pop anyone’s bubble….img_6145

After the rules (I only do this one time but I bring the board each week as a reminder, classes started with belly breathing. A great way to begin! I am a strong believer of breathing in and out through the nose, as an exhale with the mouth actually feels like a balloon that is losing air too fast (insert “balloon deflating too rapidly” sound here….FFFRRRAAPFT). I encourage breathing in through the nose, as if you are smelling a lovely flower and then letting the air gently leave through the nose on the exhale. It is more calming this way. Of course, there are two exceptions. If you have a cold/allergy or if you feel nervous and it makes you uncomfortable to breath that way.

One reason I bring yoga into classrooms is to help students and teachers that yoga is an accessible safe choice towards embodying self-control. Yoga is all about the self. Yoga is all about what it feels like inside your body. Only the individual knows what is feel like because no one else is inside another person’s being. The individual knows what is safe, what makes them feel good and how to calm themselves down. With increased self control, classrooms can flow more smoothly and teachers do not have to be noise/distraction monitors. For sure, yoga is not a cure-all, but it is one very accessible, adaptable and enjoyable tool for a person’s emotional intelligence tool kit.

Class begins with the ringing of the chime. Sometimes the best way to start class is form a relaxed and calm position to pave the way for better focused minds, bodies and energy. We inhale on the ring and allow the slow breath to release as we listen to the echo of the sound. Each child gets a turn. And with each chime, we focus our attention on the sound and on our breathing.

I will continue to use the bell as a way to bring back focus to the class. I want them to understand the difference between silent and noisy and stillness and movement. We all get a bit noisy, making silly sounds, talking, wiggling and then suddenly I ring the bell. The room quiets down. Of course, I made need to ring it again, but usually one ring is enough. Sometimes I play with the level intensity at which I ring the chime (loud vs soft), so they really have to be alert for its sound.

What is yoga?

Group 1

  • stretching

  • feeling relaxed

  • relaxing moves

  • movement

  • flexible

Group 2

  • calm down

  • stretching

  • getting flexible*

Group 3

  • relaxed & feeling good

  • stretch to become flexible

  • breathing to calm

  • de-stress

  • peaceful

  • floating

Each class came up with similar responses, but the one I really liked was “getting flexible”. I love how it implies an opportunity for growth, for change. Just what yoga is about!

Jumping right into a short sequence:

Cow/Cat (adding moos and meows)

Downward Facing Dog (with barks)

Cobra (with hisses)

Child’s Pose (giving hand options to help the children figure out what feels best for them: under the forehead, fist-on-fist or hands by feet, palms up)

Now asking the students if doing  that little bit of yoga make them feel calm/good/happy or like they were getting more flexible? I refer back to the word list they created and use them. I often throw in the question, “Is being able to touch your toes or do a backbend the only way to show that you are flexible? You might need to direct them away from more physical action descriptions for flexibility then someone can come up with alternative ways to be flexible (i.e. mind, energy)

One of my favorite yoga books and the one I have been using the longest is My Daddy Is a Pretzel by Baron Baptiste. It is a great kicking off point for basic yoga poses.

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The kids think the title is hysterical and I immediately tell them to create their own version of a pretzel yoga pose: tie yourself up, twist and curl any which way.

What I have found is that the real focus of the book is in the varied types of jobs the children in the story say that their parents do each day. There is a gardener (tree), vet (downward facing dog), architect, (triangle), pilot (airplane), builder (bridge), farmer (plow), marine biologist (fish), works in Africa (lion), baker (pretzel). These jobs open up our ability to talk about what these job’s actually mean you do and kids either know or can piece together these answers by looking at the accompanying pictures. To make my teaching fully inclusive and to make sure I can make any adaptation necessary, I teach going into and out of poses my own way, so I do not use the accompanying pose descriptions. That way I can adapt and grow each pose organically with the group, rather than follow a set path. At the end, of course, we get to try another “make-your-own” pretzel pose. Lots of laughs and then I offer up the resting pose choice. We take a short resting moment.

One of my favorite moving meditations is “Yogini Went To Sea” by Shakta Kaur Khalsa (for only $9.99 you can buy the album Happy through iTunes). Shakta is the first children’s yoga teacher I studied with and she taught me the invaluable lesson of allowing your self to grow with each experience and also, she recorded the only recorded yoga songs that I use in my classes! 

Classroom/Home Assignment: Create a Happiness Collector.

A Happiness Collector is a jar, bucket, basket or any other receptacle you choose where you put in small piece of paper that have on them written or drawn things that make you happy. These things can be anything that make you happy. They can be something that you did, that you saw or that you had done to you.

  1. Choose your Happiness Collector

  2. Every day take a moment to remember something that made you happy.

  3. Write it down or draw it on a small piece of paper. Fold the paper.

  4. Put it into your Happiness Collector.

  5. Messages can be read whenever a bit of sunshine is needed, at the end of a week etc…

Children can be prompted with a phrase such as “I feel happy when I _________.

Thank you!

Ole! Namaste!


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Yogini Flamencini! ¡Olé Namaste!

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Today’s yoga class explored the wonderful art of flamenco!  I am a flamenco dancer. I teach children and adults (of all abilities) to dance flamenco. I created a flamenco performance/workshop for schools (PreK-High school), colleges, senior living facilities and many other community events such as Farmer’s Markets and festivals. This performance is called ¡Olé Flamenco! and it explores the gypsies, the art of flamenco, and diversity. Dance is a form of communication that can be shared by everyone, whether you know the exact steps or not. Dance helps people come together, share the joy of movement, build confidence and coordinaton and feel happy! If you would like to experience the art of flamenco, you can hire my guitar player and I to come to your party or event  and we entertain you all! 09ba3c7e2440eda34c2f330329622c9a_400x400

Class began by my playing my castañuelas or castanets. I create beautiful, rhythmic music with my hands. Then I danced and played my castanets to a Sevillana, which is a folk dance from Spain that the gypsies flamencoized. I had everyone clapping their hands and shouting ¡Olé! while I danced!

 

 

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We read a wonderful folktale from Spain called The Beautiful Butterfly. Ask your little yogini about it! They all loved it! It is a wonderful story of compassion, friendship and has a good funny catch at the end. With each page, we did yoga poses that flowed along with the story. The kids loved listening and were all so attentive and focused and I let them decide what poses we would do, choosing from the lines of the story.

 

We then did one of our favorite partner dances “Happy Jio” which is actually a moving meditation but to them it is just fun, fun fun!

I gave each child a flamenco fan, turned on a fiery flamenco song, and we all waved our fans like butterfly wings, stomped our feet and danced! danced! danced!

¡Olé con olé!

 

 


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Book Review: Classroom Yoga Breaks by Louise Goldberg

I am inspired by people who adapt yoga to fit into spaces not intended, such as classrooms, libraries, parks, locker rooms and especially to those who are dedicated to bringing yoga to children with special needs; to making yoga inclusive, adaptable and accessible. Louise Goldberg, author of Classroom Yoga Breaks and Yoga Therapy for Children With Special Needs, which has been an invaluable asset for my own working in the special needs community, is a prime example.51-nma7wc3l-_sx398_bo1204203200_

To say I was delighted to receive my copy of Classroom Yoga Breaks is an understatement. Firstly, the book is presented beautifully with its sturdy, text book like, cover; it is well organized, and there are a plethora of accompanying photographs that lend clarity to the instruction. The book starts right off with great documentation of yoga and its many benefits physically, mentally and energetically. It draws clear connections to how yoga can improve Social Emotional Learning (SEL), can benefit special needs groups specifically and also the school community as a whole and how yoga bolsters self regulation, resilience and the executive functions. Through her vision, Ms. Goldberg, shows how to bring yoga into classrooms. She shares various curriculum and illustrates how all postures can be modified to fit every person. Through bodywork, breath-work and mind/energy-work, she shows how you can take yoga off the mat and into the world.

The clarity and attention to detail makes this book an indispensable addition to every schools, community centers and library. It is a repository for everything yoga and how it fits into the classroom. I especially appreciated the section dedicated to teacher’s self-care. Learning how to take care of yourself will not only help to build your resilience, your ability to respond rather then react and your sense of self but it will in turn change the climate of your classroom opening up the channels for easier teaching and freer learning.

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

A little about Louise Goldberg: 

Louise Goldberg, ERYT 500,
is owner of Relaxation Now LLC and founder of CreativeRelaxation®. Her new book,
Classroom Yoga Breaks will be published by Norton Books in Education on November 15, 2016. Her first book, Yoga Therapy for Children with Autism and Special Needs was published by Norton Professional Books in 2013. She is a co-author of S.T.O.P. and Relax, Your Special Needs Toolbox©2006, updated 2014. Her DVD Yoga for Children ©2004 features children on the autism spectrum.

 


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Thanksgiving Yoga: How To Smell The Roses In Your Poses

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Smell the roses in your poses.

There are so many benefits to feeling and expressing gratitude. People who are encouraged to notice and reflect upon the things they are thankful for experience stronger physical, emotional, and mental health, sleep better, express more compassion and kindness, are less aggressive and have healthier sense of self.

 

Yoga poses and activities can develop emotional happiness, physical calmness and mental alertness and promote the appreciation of the natural world around us through attention to the kinesthetic experience.

A brief note and brief meditation for you:

Every year, an entire day is dedicated to the celebration of gratitude. We are thankful for good food, good family and friends, and a good life. But we do not have to wait till this day to be thankful. Yoga teaches us to practice mindfulness, opening the door for gratitude to be practiced all year-long. Gratitude unlocks the abundance of life. It turns what we have into enough, and contributes to our satisfaction with our own personal riches. Being thankful for little things around us allows us to be present, alive and fully in the moment.

This brings to my mind the phrase “Stop and smell the roses”. If we do stop and smell the roses, we will start to notice the richness that surrounds and inundates all our life’s moments. By taking a step back and being aware of the things in your life that you are truly thankful for, you can bring balance to chaos and calmness to turmoil. Peace of mind can be yours by bringing yourself into the here and now! Notice the veritable cornucopia of things to be grateful for in your life: your family, friends, a roof over your head, working at something you take pride in, a smile or kind word from a stranger, a flower peeping out from the sidewalk, a fresh breeze, the warm touch of the sun, the smell of the earth after rain, the farmers who grow the food, the chef who cooks it…the list is never-ending!

So…stop and smell the roses! Take a moment to look at the trees. Notice their leaves, branches and bark, feel the wind on your cheeks and breathe deeply!

Remember that you need time to relax and rejuvenate too. Take care of yourself, so that you can be the most supportive and effective person that you can be.

A simple mindfulness meditation:

1. Find a quiet and comfortable place. Sit in a chair or on the floor with your head, neck and back straight but not stiff. You can also lie down. Or lean against the wall.

2. Become aware of your breathing by focusing on the sensation of air moving in and out of your body as you breathe. Feel the air entering and exiting through your nostrils. Feel your belly rise on the inhale and fall on the exhale. If needed, the first few breaths you can allow the exhale to express through gently pursed lips-imagine you are fanning the coals. This help to elongate the exhale and the sound is a great focuser. Pay attention to the way each breath changes and is different. Notice that the air is cool as it enters the body but it is gently warmed when it exits.

3. Watch every thought come and go, whether it be a worry, fear, anxiety or hopeful. When thoughts come up in your mind, note them, remain calm and use your breathing as an anchor. Watch your thoughts as if they are clouds drifting by in the sky.

4. If you find yourself getting carried away in your thoughts, simply return to your breathing. I sometimes like to say “Thinking” or “Thought” or I name it “that is the worrying me who thinks she cannot do things…etc. when I notice I have drifted and this helps me come back to the present moment and my breathing. There is not punishment for being lost in thought: allow it, notice it, move on.

As the time comes to a close bring (this can be 1-minute, 5 minutes 20 minutes or more!) bring some more energizing breaths into your body. You can wiggle your fingers and toes. Roll to one side (if lying down). Get up gradually.

Gratitude Attitude Yoga for Kids: 6358626217332020101255530005_thankyou

How should we bring gratitude to children’s attention? Playfully. They can learn how to be thankful by getting to know themselves, physically, emotionally, energetically and intellectually. Using the methodologies of yoga, qigong, and dance, they have the freedom to express this autonomously. The gratitude attitude can be bolstered by our commitment to communicating with them where they are now, by how we act and how we relate to them during our time together. Through various activities in action and in stillness , they can explore their own paths to gratitude.

Activities:

Stillness activity #1: Ringing the chime. Turn taking. Sharing. Listening. Experiencing. Different vibration every time. Building confidence and self-esteem.

Stillness activity #2: Colored glass rocks: creating patterns, shapes, feeling their cool, soft edges…listening to a piece of quite music like “Variations On Twinkle Twinkle by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart or Joe Cool’s Blues by Wynton Marsalis and Ellis Marsalis.

gorilla-thumpWaking Up The Sense Activity #1: Gorilla Thumps Gently thumping body parts  and meridian points. The chest and just below the collar bones using Aaaaaaaa-Eeeeeee-Iiiiiii-Oooooooo-Uuuuuuuu. Energy booster! Waking up the energy lines. 

Waking Up The Sense Activity #2: Rag Doll Dance Shimmying, shaking, jiggling, flouncing. Feeling light. Waking up. Moving feet. Moving hands. Fingers, Toes. Head. Waking the senses.
Yoga Poses:

Mountain pose. Thank you Mountains for being so strong and stable. 

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Mountain

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Upward Mountain

Sun (breathe in, arms come up the sides till fingers touch at the top. Try to match finger to finger) feeling awake; Moon (hands clasped at the top. Lean to one side then the other) feeling bright; Wind (starting swaying arms, let them gently tap your body as your spine twists side to side) feeling free; Rain (add finger wiggles) feeling fresh. 

Waterfall Bend over and touch the floor. Feel the cool water running through your fingers. Feel calm. And Kind of sparkly. 

Squat like a frog. Sit still, like a frog. Breathe quietly, like a frog. Then hopping ribbit, ribbit, ribbit (and then back to your lily pad) 

Cow and Cat-Moo and Meow grounded to the floor. Stable like a table! 

Breathe in, lift up, Snake. Hissssssssssssing down on the exhale. Repeat. Strong arm muscles pushing you. Notice your hands on the floor and push up.

Woof. Down dog. Lifting one foot for a tail. Switch. Barking. Feeling joyful

Tree Pose. Standing tall and balanced on one foot. Friend Tree: Do it with a friend. Family Tree: Do it with the whole yoga family. 

Challenge Pose #1: Single sided bow pose. Switch sides. Then try traditional bow pose.

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Challenge #2: Pointer Dog Pose

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Challenge #3: Dancer’s Pose. Hold hands with a partner and be each others support. Try it on your own to test your inner balance.

Resting Poses:

Floating On The Sea: On your back, the mat is a calm blue sea. Gentle waves rocking you as you let your body relax and float. You feel weightless. Hear the seagulls. Hear the waves lapping. Feel the warm breath of the sun. Smell the beach air full of ocean, sun and sand.  Your belly is the ocean. On each inhale, allow the belly to fill up and on the exhale, let the belly soften. Take your next few breaths into your veer softening belly. Drift. 

Crocodile: Belly time (EVERYBODY needs belly time!). Now the mat is a river.  Crocodile is gliding slowly in the river. Feel the warm water all around. Head down. Can rest head to one side or the other. Or use hands as a pillow. Can bend one knee or the other (if knee is bent head should be looking to that same side or straight down.)  Feel belly on the floor. Pressing in as you inhale. Feel your back softening on the exhale. On each inhale, allow the belly to fill up and on the exhale, let the belly soften. Take your next few breaths into your veer softening belly. Glide. 

Sleeping On A Cloud: Belly or back time. Can you imagine clouds in the sky? Imagine you could rest gently on top of one. Feel the soft cotton cradling you gently. There is a little sway and bob as the cloud floats through the sky. In your imagination,  look at the other clouds as they float by. See them drifting by. See their shapes. What shapes do you see? When you start to look at or think about other things, gently go back to looking at the clouds. It is o.k. if you do. When you do realize you are not thinking about the clouds, gently start noticing the clouds and their shapes. Float.

Games and Books:

Game #1: Let each child call out the name of a living thing and then create a pose to go with it. For example, T-Rex. Stand up. Make “little” arms like a T-Rex, and then do mat walk. Walk all around the outer edge of your mat-while acting like T-Rex-in one direction. Then reverse your direction to get the most brain balancing effect.

Game #2: Tape numbers (1-10, or less) around the walls and tape a yoga pose card next to each number. Easy version: everyone goes through poses in numerical order. Challenge option: Pair up the students. Give them each a pose order card (numbered 1- 10, but not in numerical order). Each group heads off a deux, and does their poses in the order specific to their card.

Game #3: Another version of the above game (my fall to game in every class) is putting one, two or more cards under each mat. Student pull the cards out and arrange them, either as they like or numerically. Students then have an allotted amount of time to do their pose(s). At the signal, everyone moves clockwise and arrives on a new mat, with a new set of cards presented to them. Continue until everyone is back on their original mat.

Book #1:For younger kids, check out My Amazing Day: A celebration of wonder and gratitude by Karin Fisher-Golton, Lori A. Cheung and Elizabeth Iwamiya (please check out my review of this book here). This book can be read and easily adapted to yoga poses to go along with the things the baby is grateful for. 

Book #2: This is one of my favorite all time books that I read to my son almost every day. It is so beautiful and the kids just can’t get enough of the surprise and the anticipation and it is so sweet and lovely: The Lion and the Red Bird by Elisa Kleven. Here is a fabulous YouTube of Elisa Kleven reading her beloved book. Elisa came into this hospital to share her wonderful story with fantastic illustrations. The patient, Ashley, sure had a lot to say about the story! Enjoy this children’s book classic.