Always Be Dancing Expressive Arts

Yoga and Flamenco for Every/body


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Mindful Book Reviews By Eve: The Dance of Interaction: An Embodied Approach to Nonverbal Communication Training for Caregivers of People with Dementia (Training Manual) by Donna Newman-Bluestein with Meg H. Chang

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I know the author, Donna Newman-Bluestein, through the dance and movement world in Boston, MA and was excited to have a chance to read and learn from her new training manual. Through her Dance For Connection work Donna brings joy, vitality and a sense of interconnectedness to people with dementia through playful, expressive movement and dance via direct programming and training caregivers.

This manual sets out to change the culture of care surrounding people with dementia within nursing home care by using mindfulness, movement and nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions. This manual strives to support caregivers, to help them to awaken their mindful selves, to guide them to trust their intuitions, and to enable them to go forth and shine. Embodied learning is mindfulness in-action and it empowers you to be authentically you so that you can see that every interaction with a person with dementia is an opportunity to build a relationship.

The chapters are carefully laid out and are broken down into easy to follow sections. One page, titled “If You Do Nothing Else…(pg. 77) that I found immensely helpful is a list of go-to strategies to try before approaching a person with dementia. This is a list of lifelines for the caregiver, because we all know “you have to put your air-mask on first before you can help anyone else…” In other words, this is a list of mindful mini’s to increase confidence, joy, and vitality so that caregivers can be at their best, fully aware, present and with self-control.

I highly recommend this work and trainings by Donna Newman-Bluestein. An embodied learning approach can be used caregivers, teachers, paraprofessionals, parents, anyone who works with patients with dementia and really any specialty group. This approach will make you curious, compassionate and above all authentic, vibrant and empowered to be the best you and the best caregiver. I love this beautiful, compassionate life line!

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Mindful Book Reviews By Eve: Jessica Kingsley Publishing Wrap-Up

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The Go Yogi! Card Set: 50 Everyday Yoga Poses for Calm, Happy, Healthy Kids by Emma Hughes, illustrated by John Smisson

This is a very sweet, simple set of cards that offer a nice diverse range of characters and each card has an easy how-to-do-the-pose on the back.

One thing I really liked about the cards was the inclusion of the Sanskrit name for each pose, along with the made up English name. I really liked this because it extends the diversity of yoga past the new inception of yoga, into the ancient and historical and shares this ancient language and opens up dialogue for the deeper teachings of yoga, not just the poses, which is especially helpful when teaching teens. IMG_2129

Included with the cards is a booklet with some ideas on how to use the cards and jumping off points for more creative adaptation. These are a great addition to my teaching practice and my students really like them. Ms. Hughes and Mr. Smisson have successfully teamed up before in two books the promote mindfulness and yoga for children: Striker, Slow Down and Go Yogi! (book). These cards make a great complement to those books.

Six Healing Sounds: Qi Gong For Children With Lisa & Ted by Lisa Spillane

I love Qi gong! Qi gong is an ancient Chinese art of movement and breath meant to balance the body’s energy (the qi, chi or prana) in order to achieve optimal health and well-being. This book introduces children to the benefits of qi gong by helping them to connect their feelings and bodily sensations to their inner voice. Through varied exercises including connecting to self-love, resonating sounds, visualizations and affirmations, this book helps children purge themselves of negative emotions and ways of thinking and to replace them with more healthy thoughts to create a more vibrant, radiant, self-assured and calm persona.

A special shout out to for the cute, expressive illustrations. They are simple and child- like but are also richly detailed. I loved the creative mixed-media collaging effect of real objects blended with drawings.

This is a great book for infusing children’s lives with mindfulness and positive social- emotional strategies. I highly recommend it!

Yoga Girls Club: Do Yoga, Make Art, Be You by Tiffani Bryant

This is a great book for teens or those teaching teens. It is highly interactive and focuses on listening to your inner voice. There are nice descriptions of postures and plenty of activity pages that include art ideas, writing prompts and body, mind, soul activities to help sort out emotions, feelings and bodily sensations and to promote mindfulness. The black and white illustrations invite you to color them to add a splash of color to this very informative and easy to use yoga manual.

Thank you to Jessica Kingsley Publishing for sending me these books. All opinions expressed are my own.

 


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Mindful Book Reviews by Eve: Mindful Kids: 50 Mindfulness Activities for Kindness, Focus and Calm (Cards) by Whitney Stewart & Mina Braun

IMG_0522Along comes a new, beautifully crafted, set of mindfulness cards for kids!

Right off the back, I fell in love with illustrator Mina Braun’s adorable drawings and appreciated their fostering of diversity. It is so important to show that every child will be able to access the mindful activities on these cards. The color palette is cheery and each picture is full of captivating details and creative patterns.

Whitney Stewart has made mindfulness easily accessible by everyone. The simple step-by-step instructions make it possible for teachers and families to use the cards anytime during the day when a mini mindful moment is needed. The cards are varied and offer entrance into mindfulness through breathing exercises, mental focus, yoga and movement activities, self-reflection, laughter, relaxing and renewing, waking up and motivating, games and kindness. So much kindness!

Above all, these cards promote 1. Loving Kindness 2. Compassion 3. Empathetic Joy 4. Equanimity-helping to cultivate kindness to self, to the known and to the unknown.

I highly recommend these cards. I know they will become a staple in my own tool kit for working with youth and bringing mindfulness into my and their lives. They should be in every classroom, library and in any space that involves youth. Younger children will need help reading them but older kids will be able to engage with them on their own.

Thank you to Barefoot Books & Whitney Stewart for sending me these beautiful cards. All opinions expressed are my own.

Would you like me to read and review for you?

Please contact me at AdamAnt_Eve@hotmail.com.


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Mindful Book Reviews By Eve: Late summer round up of books from Skyhorse Publishing

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  1. The Little Red Book of Yoga Wisdom Edited by Kelsie Besaw

    This is a nice compact book filled with great photos and quotes. From the Bhagavad Gita to Yoda with some Einstein, Mother Theresa and Jennifer Aniston in-between, this book nicely offers quotes to inspire, affirm, ground and elevate you.

    This book would make a nice gift for the yoga enthusiast in your life!

  2. Anatomy, Stretching & Training for Yoga: A Step-By_Step Guide To Getting The Most From Your Yoga Practice by Amy Auman And Lisa Purcell IMG_9981

    This is a nice companion to your yoga practice. It will heighten your anatomical understanding and how the highlighted muscle groups are affected by each asana. Using both a live model and computer generated one, which has muscles highlighted, this book enlightens the physical, mental and energetic connections to the poses. I really like the computer model’s visual musculature and the side boxes that include benefits and contraindications of the effects of the poses and the insight into fostering inner peace throughout the practice. The descriptions are clear and helpful and a special side note, I really appreciated how the model had good eye position in the poses. That is such an important detail for me. A++! This is a very nice anatomy book with a yoga focus.

    I highly recommend this book for learning the anatomy of yoga poses. It is well organized and clearly presented.

  3. Yoga Twists and Turns: 50 Sequences to Take Your Practice to the Next Level by Emma Silverman 

     

     

     

    IMG_9980This is a great book for yoga teachers and an essential guide for yoga teachers and for those who want to build a home practice. The sequences are clearly and logically laid out with an exact series of poses designed to warm up the body in preparation for the peak (the big huzzah!) pose at the end. These sequences are the core practice and it is offered up for the practitioner to add sun salutations at the beginning or with-in the body of the sequence, when wanted, and then to cool down either with the included restorative sequence or with another cool down series and finally to add savasana. The Peak Pose class uses various warm up exercises to prepare the body for a complex or unfamiliar pose, or to deepen the investigation into a pose to enhance its experience. Each sequence is accompanied, step-by-step, by very nicely photographed sequence.

    I highly recommend this book as a great book for learning sequencing and practice creation.

  4. Yoga for Women by Karin Björkegren IMG_9982

    This yoga book is focused on how yoga can help women gain strength and flexibility in every stage of their lives and how yoga promotes a fit lifestyle. This is a beautiful pictorial time line of yoga that includes gorgeous textured and creative photography. It takes the reader from the teens years to the senior years and offers poses, clearly and concisely described, to aid in such things as PMS and menopause, pregnancy and childbirth and how to age gracefully.

This is a lovely coffee table like book. The photography is arty and captivating. It would make a beautiful gift for the yoga lover in your life.

Thank you to Skyhorse Publishing for sending me these books. All opinions are my own.


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Mindful Book Reviews by Eve: Late summer reviews of books from Singing Dragon & Jessica Kingsley Publishers

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Robin And The White Rabbit: A story to help children with Autism to talk about their feelings and join in by Emma Lindström & Åse Brunström; Illustrated by Emma Lindström

This is a very engaging book for children, parents and teachers to help children with Autism to communicate their feelings more clearly and to enable them to fit in more comfortably with their peers. To accompany the text, there are some great illustrated effects. One of my favorites, is the clear bubble that Robin is inside, given a pictorial depiction of alone-ness and separation. The illustrations, which are a cross between realism and cartoon, are sweet and I do like how the main character, Robin, is quite androgynous and therefor quite gender-less, making the book very open minded and inclusive. To bring Robin out of confusion and distress, the kind white rabbit

offers a non-threatening and simple visual system that can be used to help express feelings. This is beneficial for many children on the spectrum, as they find picture cards an accessible way to describe their feelings. These pictures offer them choices which can always be rearranged to allow for change.

This book is an excellent resource for families and schools. I highly recommend it, not only for children on the spectrum, but also as a tool for opening up the dialogue with young children on how to be more aware of other peoples needs and how there is not just one way to learn something.

The Red Beast: Controlling Anger in Children with Asperger’s Syndrome by K.I. Al-Ghani; Illustrations by Haitham Al-Ghani

Through clear text and captivating illustrations, this book shows you what it is like to blow your top and then how to notice the anger and how to shrink it. The text melds beautifully with the illustrations and you get pulled right into the full expression of rage. The illustrations are great! I love the colored pencil/crayon scratch effect and the red that is chosen is a deep, satisfying hue, which give a perfect visual representation of anger. A take away from this book is definitely the overall feeling of compassion and acceptance.

I highly recommend this book. We all get angry sometime and this is a book is a great one to have in your toolkit for anger management strategist. At the back of the book, there are listed even more useful strategies.

Frog’s Breathtaking Speech: How children (and frogs) can use yoga breathing to deal with anxiety, anger and tension by Michael Chissick; Illustrations by Sarah Peacock

This book is a great introduction to stress relief for pre-schoolers and elementary aged children and is so usable by both non-practitioners and yoga teachers alike. It can be easily integrated into the classroom for some self-esteem enhancement and mindfulness. This book uses adorable watercolor and ink illustrations to increase children’s awareness of their own breath and affects of stress on their bodies, minds and energy and clearly instructs on accessible breathing strategies for all children. A nice bonus is that at the back of the book, there are illustrations for the yoga postures that accompany the breath-work.

I highly recommend this, one of the many awesome books by the dynamic duo of author, Michael Chissick, and illustrator, Sarah Peacock. Together they have filled a void in yoga and mindfulness for children with their picture books that clearly present techniques to reduce stress and increase peace of mind.

Ladybird’s Remarkable Relaxation: How children (and frogs, dogs, flamingos and dragons) can use yoga relaxation to help deal with stress, grief, bullying and lack of confidence by Michael Chissick; Illustrations by Sarah Peacock

This book is made to use in school, offering a successful relaxation technique that is simple, fun and easy to learn and can be administered by yoga teachers and non- practitioners alike.. It can be learned by everyone and once learned can be used anywhere at anytime when relaxation is needed. The bottom line is, it works!

Ladybird is an adorable, unassuming character who literally jumps off the pages of the book and onto various body parts of the body to add physical sensation and focus to a body scan mediation. At the back of the book, there are clear instructions on how to teach the Ladybird Relaxation and the actual Ladybird Relaxation Script.

I highly recommend this, one of the many awesome books by the dynamic duo of author, Michael Chissick, and illustrator, Sarah Peacock. Together they have filled a void in yoga and mindfulness for children with their picture books that clearly present techniques to reduce stress and increase peace of mind.

Thank you to Jessica Kingsley Publishing for sending me a copy of these books. All opinions are my own.


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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

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  2. ¡Olé Flamenco! Workshops* & Classes*in addition to or separate from the educational presentationa. with guitarist Antonio Tiriti

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  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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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!