Always Be Dancing

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


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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!


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

Sam and Dave are Yoga Archaeologists

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

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

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

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


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Book Review: Red Turban White Horse by Nadini Bajpai

Red Turban Whote Horse

I just finished reading the delightful debut YA novel “Red Turban White Horse” written by the local author Nandini Bajpai that is set in the Metrowest (of Boston) and is full of thinly disguised local references. For someone, like myself, living in the region, this is a tasty treat!

The heroine of the story (Padmini “Mini” Kapoor) is a resourceful, caring teen who comes in charge of orchestrating her older sisters wedding while at the same time a hurricane is barreling down the east coast. Mini is a generous soul and armed with the current know-how of how-to-get-things done, she sets about to get everything in order from location to caterer to finding their mother’s lehengas (a skirt that is long, embroidered and pleated) that have been packed away for many years so that her sister can have the fairy tale wedding she deserves.

Wedding Lehenga

Start with the rich descriptions of the beautiful fabrics of the lehengas, from the gold and cranberry to the raspberry and silver, add in the mouth-watering descriptions of the delicious aromatic curries, warm crusty garlic naans, fragrant rice and Tandoori chicken, and then sprinkle in sweet, youthful romance and strong family values and you have a little slice of swarg!

I highly recommend this YA novel! It is a fun romp through Indian-American culture, with strong, likable characters and lots of local flavor (I did reach out to the author and she indicated that the little takeaway that comes to Mini’s rescue is loosely based on a diner on Route 9 in Framingham called Welcome India. I can’t wait to try them sometime.)

Full disclosure: I stumbled upon this book at the LOCAL library book sale! All opinions expressed are my own.


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Dance In The Schools 2015: Life Cycle of the Yoga Butterfly

Waiting For Wings by Lois Ehlert

Today was the final day of Dance In The Schools 2015 at the Baldwin School, Cambridge. My classes were based on the life cycle of the butterfly (current with the 2nd grade science curriculum) and the concepts of senses we know (touch, sight, smell, hearing and taste) and then the ones we don’t know as much about (proprioception= an awareness of our bodies in space and the vestibular system=balance, gravity and movement information though our inner ear).

The best thing about yoga is that it allows for a sensory experience in a safe/non-competitive environment. You can manipulate your body in space, using poses, breath and meditation to clear pathways to achieve balance.

Breathing Sticks (once again, I noted to them to practice their breathing once they got their sticks)

Sa-Ta-Na-Ma meditation

Waiting for Wings/They have eggs to lay...What is the Butterfly Life Cycle?

Egg (usually laid on a leaf)

Larva/Caterpillar (eats leaves to grow)

Pupa/Chrysalis/Cocoon

Adult butterfly/moth

What is metamorphosis?

Interesting facts:

  1. Butterflies are active during the day feeding on flowers. They suck up the sweet nectar with their long, curly tongues. That is because butterflies cannot bite or chew.
  2. There are about 150,000 kinds of butterflies and they and their caterpillars come in all sorts of colors and sizes.
  3. Butterflies Like all insects, they have six jointed legs, 3 body parts, a pair of antennae, compound eyes, and an exoskeleton. The three body parts are the head, thorax (the chest), and abdomen (the tail end). Most have four wings. The wings of butterflies are covered with tiny scales that seem to shimmer in the daylight. Some of them are brightly colored. Others have bold patterns or scary eye-spots. When a butterfly flashes its wings at its enemies, it confuses them, and gives itself time to escape the danger that they might be in.
  4. Butterflies and moth belong to the order Lepidoptera. Lepidos is Greek for “scales” and ptera means “wing”. Monarch visiting Mums

Waiting for Wings by Lois Ehlert

Out in the fields, eggs are hidden from view. Child’s pose

clinging to leaves with butterfly glue. Stretching child’s pose. Fingers crawl to the left and right to stretch sides.

Soon caterpillars hatch. They creep and they chew. Creep forward into inchworm.

Each one knows what it must do. Press up to cobra. Add hissing and snaking back up and down.

Find a place where winds don;t blow, Locust.

then make a case in which to grow. Bow.

Caterpillar changes now begin– Rock and roll on belly, release. Rise up to standing position.

body and wings take shape within. Tapping.

When it’s time, each case is torn– Willow tree and joy breath.

wings unfold; new butterflies are born! Star Pose.

They pump their wings, get ready to fly, Add cross body kicks.

then hungry butterflies head for the sky. Yoga Jumping Jacks.

Looking for flowers with nectar to eat, Standing flower pose (tree)

they catch a whiff of something sweet.: Join a partner for partner tree/or group tree

They follow that fragrant scent of perfume, Melt to the floor. breathing in and smelling the delicious odor of fresh flowers 3x.

until they find our garden bloom.: Seated flower

We’ve been waiting for wings! Seated bat (opening flower)

We watch them circle, land on their feet, Lay on back and hug knees to chest. Legs up towards ceiling, as if walking on ceiling. Foot circles, both directions. Point and flex and then walk on ceiling and then bicycle.

unroll their tongues, and begin to eat.: Rock and roll. Grab feet, happy baby.

They dip and sip, Feet down. Simple lying twist.

then fly away, back home to the fields… Full body stretch-like a gingerbread man.

They have eggs to lay.: Savasana

Song (sung to the tune of Pop Goes The Weasel)…I tried!

I spin and spin my chrysalis

I stay inside to rest

When I come out….Metamorphosis!

Pop! Goes the butterfly.

Of course we then did a rousing version of Yogini Went to Sea and then the Downward Dog Crawl Tunnel. Not taking into account the size of the room, proved to be a stumper for a moment. But I offered up the challenge to the class and we  were able to create a circle, which worked very well! I so appreciated the first groups problem solving ability!

Please enjoy the wonderful gift I received:

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Ole! Namaste!


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Emotion Cards: How to Dance With Heart (or how to access your emotional body while dancing)

Last night, I attended Ainoa performance in her school’s International Night event. I am so impressed with this event. First of all, it is a night solely represented by dancing-boys and girls alike and there are dances representing at least 12 different countries such as India, Mexico, Iran, Ireland, China and Peru. Ainoa’s dancing has reached a new level. She has found her self within the music, knowing the choreography, understanding the rhythms. We can call this the comfort zone. So now we attack the emotional content and how to express it to the audience.

Seated yoga sequence to balance the chakraschakra-flower-672x1024

Muladhara Chakra- root chakra- color red

  1. Easy pose (habitual cross leg first-both of us chose right over left). Feel sit bones. Show on skeleton model, where the sit bones are (Remind of the wrap of the psoas muscle and the Nerf ball.) Recross to non-habitual side and feel sit bones.

Svadhistana Chakra- sacral chakra- color orange

  1. Upavishta Konasana, with legs only as wide as the mat (short ways), with bolster under knees. Just resting arms on upper legs and letting head drop forward.
  2. Butterfly pose.

Manipura Chakra- solar plexus chakra- color yellow

  1. Easy seated twist. Right leg in front, right hand holds left knee. Recross. Left leg in front, left hand holds right knee.

Anahata Chakra- heart chakra- color green

  1. Bolster under shoulders and then moves after 3 breaths down the spine. Stopping and always taking at least three breathes in each spot. End with bolster under hips and do knees into chest. I pointed out to her that this is a back bend too. At first she did not believe e as she sees wheel as the only back bend, but I had her close her eyes and I told her to imagine she was standing on the edge of a pool and by leaning back, she was going to be able to dive in backwards. I could just tell from her energy shift that she was getting it.

Vishudda Chakra: throat chakra- color blue

  1. Ocean breath, in constructive breath, on in breath still holding, knees go out and on out breath pull knees back in towards chest, like a bellows.

Ajna Chakra: Third-eye chakra- color purple

  1. Release legs and let them rise to the ceiling (Make your body into an “L” shape-do not do shoulder stand). Make ankle circles in and out. Point and flex feet. Re-hug legs into chest.

Sahasrara Chakra: Crown of the head chakra- color white light/ glimmering diamond

  1. constructive rest. 1 minute mindfulness meditation.

Savasana- Chakra balancing

  1. Conscious rest

ZM-15Emotion Cards: How to Dance With Heart (or how to access your emotional body)

I started to create a deck of cards that have emotions and energies written on them.

I chose words that I felt were evoked during flamenco dance and by listening to flamenco music:

Adoration, Anger, Despair, Determined, Energized, Fatigued, Fury, Grief, Happy, Sad

These cards jump started Ainoa and she started to create her own deck, where she then proceeded to create her own definitions and how they could relate to dance (they key words are underlined):

Angry: scrunched up face; angry eyes; eyebrows narrowing; eyes on fire

Calm: laying on the couch and watching TV.

Clumsy: bumping into things.

Curious: wanting to uncover something.

Determined: refusing to quit.

Happy: smiling, jumping, breathing fast.

Funny: you can make people laugh or other people can make you laugh.

Mysterious: lifting up one eyebrow; skulking; looking everywhere

Nervous: you have to perform in front of 3,000,000 people.

Pushed: feeling forced to do something

Sad: someone died; crying; eyes drooping; looking down; not really moving; dancing energy in down

Scared: you see a monster.

Suspicious: not believing what someone is telling you.

Identify flamenco emotions. Choose three or four emotion cards

Looking on youtube for

    1. Silvia Moreno: bulerías https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_5PT1rwQEA
    2. Merche Esmerelda: Guajiras (Saura) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_fZdzw_4v4
    3. Rocio Molina y La Tremendita: Bulerías https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYaY4zZgTas
    4. Miguel Poveda y La Lupi “Triana, Puenta y Aparte” Tangos de Triana https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcbDYPO-uAU
    5. Tangos de la cava en Triana (El Titi) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bwc_pzvP3G4
ZM-34

Ainoa and Eve Sevillanas


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Youth Flamenco, Inclusion Yoga and Tween/Teen Yoga with Eve Costarelli 2014-2015

Lola's Fandango
Youth Flamenco on Wednesdays; Classes start Wednesday September 10th, 2014
@ The Dance Complex, 536 Mass Ave., Cambridge, MA

Youth Flamenco 1 (ages 5-10); 4:00PM The class is designed for children aged 5 to 11 with zero to 1 year of flamenco dance experience. This class includes basic technique of flamenco dance to include correct posture, hand, arm, and foot placement. The student will become familiar with basic flamenco vocabulary. The course will include exercises that will develop the clarity of the students’ footwork, develop their upper-body to lower-body coordination. Basic castanet playing exercises are practiced. Repertoire will be taught. Required attire: leotard or fitted top, castanets, flamenco shoes and skirt for girls. Castanets and flamenco boots for boys. Pre-Registration for Fall-Winter 2014 session, as well as Winter-Spring 2015, contact Eve Costarelli AdamAnt_Eve@hotmail.com for more information. No drop-ins.

Youth Flamenco 2 (ages 9-16); 5:00PM Two years of dance experience required. This class offers Flamenco technique to improve posture, hand, arm, and foot placement. Exercises that will improve clarity of the students’ footwork, upper-body to lower-body coordination as well as stamina and endurance are included. Medium to complex footwork and choreographic variations are taught. Required Attire: Flamenco shoes, flamenco skirt, leotard or fitted top, castanets. Other dance accessories may be required such as Spanish hat, mantón and fan, when necessary. Pre-Registration for this Fall-Winter 2014 session, as well as Winter-Spring 2015, contact Eve Costarelli AdamAnt_Eve@hotmail.com for more information. No drop-ins.

Inclusion Yoga
Inclusion Yoga (ages 6-10) and Tween/Teen Yoga on Thursdays: Classes start Thursday October 2nd, 2014
@ Open Spirit Center, 39 Edwards St., Framingham, MA

Inclusion Yoga (ages 6-10); 3:45-4:35PM This inclusion class will help children with Autism, special needs, and typical learners to feel comfortable with all people, noting that everyone is different and that’s OK. The class combines breath work, movement, guided meditations and a deep relaxation period to help children learn to be aware of their thoughts, emotions and what their bodies say. This specialized program is designed for typically developing children, and children with special needs, including but not limited to; Autism, ADD/ADHD, OCD, Anxiety, PDD, Sensory Processing Dysfunction, PTSD, CP and DS. Students must be able to take verbal instructions and follow along in a group setting with support. Pre-Registration for this Fall session, as well as other sessions throughout the year, are availablehttp://www.openspiritcenter.org/. Led by Eve Costarelli. $90 for the Fall session, no drop-ins.

Tween/Teen Girls Yoga (ages 11-18); 4:45-6:00PM This class brings older tweens and teens together to explore how yoga can help them better understand and appreciate their changing bodies, relationships, and lives. Yoga can help tweens/ teens move through these often-challenging years and emerge with healthy ways to address stress and find balance. Classes will help empower teens and inspire self-awareness and body confidence, and are fun, upbeat, and non-competitive. Yoga poses, philosophy, breath work, meditation and journaling will be explored. This class also presents a wonderful opportunity for tweens/ teens to come together, laugh, and build friendships within the Open Spirit community. Pre-Registration for this Fall session, as well as other sessions throughout the year, are availablehttp://www.openspiritcenter.org/. Led by Eve Costarelli. $90 for the Fall session, no drop-ins.

Privates are available, slots are filling quickly.
Flamenco and Yoga parties available for children and adults. Yoga Classes & The Common Core, Weddings and Corporate events available. Please inquire.

Eve’s other projects include:

Nourishing Teachers, Strengthening Classrooms Project @ the Framingham Public Schools; Framingham, MA

The Birth of Flamenco @ Young Audiences of Massachusetts; Greater New England

Yoga in the Park @ Ivy Child International; Worcester, MA

Core Yoga In Schools @ Brighton High School; Brighton, MA

Yoga Reaches Out: Kid’s Yogathon; Natick, MA

Smell The Roses Flyer


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Yoga Card Decks

One great tool I have found for my kids yoga classes is the number of fun and well made yoga cards. Each deck has a unique twist and the kids just love to use them.

1. Yoga Pretzels: 50 Fun Activities for Kids & Grownups by Tara Guber and Leah Kalish

2. Yoga Warrior Cards by Shakta Kaur Khalsa

3. The Kids’ Yoga Deck: 50 Poses and Games by Annie Buckley

4. Fun with Sun Yoga: Yoga Cards and Guidebook for Children’s Yoga by Dr. Jacqueline Koay

5. Yoga Planet Deck by Tara Guber, Leah Kalish, and Sophie Fatus

6. Yoga For Teens Card Deck by Mary Kaye Chryssicas

7. Yoga to the Rescue: Remedies for Real Girls (61 Card Deck) by Amy Luwis

8. Creative Yoga Games for Kids Volumes 1 & 2 by Yoga Education Resources

9. The ABCs of Yoga For Kids Learning Cards by Theresa Anne Power