Always Be Dancing

The Art of Movement for Every/body & Mindful Book Reviews By Eve


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Mindful Book Reviews By Eve: Alphabreaths

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Adorable, diverse illustrations connected to beautiful simple breathing prompts. From A-Z, easy to follow breathing prompts, each one aimed to elicit a calming response. This book is a great one for young children and it can be used more widely- any teacher could offer up one of these breathing practices at the beginning of each class. Students can encouraged to note the ones they like the best to keep in their tool boxes of practices they know help them to feel good, calm and in-control. Calming breaths can be used to bring focus and attention in a classroom as well as a home or office but are also great to combine with a yoga pose! Great accessible ideas to incorporate into today’s mindful classroom. 

Fun, accessible introduction to the power of the breath!

Here’s a link to a YouTube video showing kids in a classroom participating.

Thank you to the author for sending me a copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

#childrensbook #bookreview #breath #breathing #mindfulness #calming


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Meditation: Getting Started

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How does one start to meditate? I started meditating about 5 years ago. I wanted to start before that but just never sat down on my own and meditated. When I started, I had little knowledge of “how-to” meditate. I thought you needed to sit absolutely still, in total silence and think of nothing. Yeah….you can guess how well that went.

But overtime, it seemed to take hook. I was never sure if I was meditating correctly and often felt I was not doing it right or well, but I stuck at it and it stuck to me. First, I found that I needed to meditate in the morning, because if I waited until later in the day, it did not get done. So every morning, after I made breakfast for my son, I would sit on the other sofa and meditate…listening to him munch his bagel and gulp his milk. I felt like a pro! Look at me sitting here, not moving, blocking out the sounds around me….but I still felt like I was not doing it right and it was not “affecting” or “effecting” me correctly.  But I stuck to it. And it stuck to me. It was oddly satisfying and if I did not do it, I felt like I was missing something that I wanted. My brain wanted it. My body wanted it. My soul wanted it.

Enter Kundalini. In Kundalini, everything is organized and makes sense. The exercises have aim and purpose and are felt physically, mentally and energetically. There are physical movements or stillness encased by specific breathing patterns, chants and mudras. This allows for the seeing, the hearing and the sensing of of what’s happening  within minutes of starting a practice. The truth is in the doing. Here form really follow function. Kundlini fits all bodies, all sizes, all adaptations without getting lost in the “what my body should look like” thoughts. 

Also, Kundlini is a gold mine when it comes to varied meditations. Kundalini offers metal, physical and emotional distractions that ope the gateway for meditation that is wholly enjoyable and accessible. 

     Two Meditations to Start Your Journey:

                            Kirtan Kriya/ Sa Ta Na Ma Meditation

Kirtan Kriya, often referred to as SA TA NA MA meditation, is the most important meditation in Kundalini Yoga. If you can do only one meditation, this is it. It will readjust and align you to bring balance into your body, mind and spirit and thus your life. It is your teacher. It is your best friend. 

The bottom line is that this meditation works. All you have to do is do it. You can trust the process and the technology.

Directions:

Sit with a straight spine. Bring your mental focus to the brow point/3rd eye point.

Chant SA TA NA MA.

While chanting alternately press the thumb with the four fingers. Press hard enough to keep yourself awake and aware of the pressure. Keep repeating in a stable rhythm and keep the hand motion going throughout the whole meditation.

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SA press the thumb and the pointer or Jupiter finger together with pressure.
TA press the thumb and the middle or Saturn finger together.
NA press the thumb and the ring or Sun finger together.
MA press the thumb and the pinky or Mercury finger together.

The Jupiter/Pointer finger brings in knowledge, expands our field of possibilities and releases us from limitations.

The Saturn/Middle finger gives us patience, wisdom and purity.

The Sun/Ring finger gives us vitality and aliveness.

The Mercury/Pinky finger aids clear communication.

Visualize or feel each individual sound come in the crown chakra at the top of the head, down through the middle of the head and out to infinity through the third eye. This is very important and must be done with each sound. It is an essential part of the cleansing process. If this part of the meditation is not done, you may experience a headache.

While doing the meditation, you may experience pictures of the past come up like on a movie screen in your mind. Let them dance in front of your eyes and release them with the mantra. This is part of the cleansing of the subconscious mind. If emotions come up, you can also incorporate them in the chanting, i.e. if you feel anger then chant out the anger. Whatever you experience is OK. Do not try to avoid or control your experiences. Simply be with what is going on and go through it. It is all part of the cleansing process.

** Sa Ta Na Ma Meditation is becoming scientifically recognized as a powerful tool for preventing or stopping Alzheimer’s disease, increasing all aspects of cognitive function, (perception, thinking, reasoning and remembering) and reducing stress levels while improving short term memory.

                                          Morning Meditation

6 minutes version:

  • 1 min out-loud
  • 1 min whisper
  • 2 min in-head (can add tongue movements) with hand movements
  • 1 min whisper
  • 1 min out-loud.

This meditation can be done for 6-31 minutes. Just keep all the segments equal length (the silent section is repeated twice). It can really be done for as little as 3 minutes (30 sec, 30 sec, 1 min, 30 sec, 30 sec)

31 minute version:

  • 5 min out loud
  • 5 min whisper
  • 10 min in-head (tongue moving) with hand movement
  • 5 min whisper
  • 5 min out-loud
  • [1 min listen inside, hear the mantra, experience it. No hand movements.]

                                        Evening Meditation

                                      Sa Ta Na Ma Variation

3-30 minutes

Rest hands in lap. Fingers interlaced with the pads of the thumbs pressing into each other

Rest eyes gently looking at tip of nose; eyes may close.

Sniff in 4-counts, mentally saying Sa-Ta-Na-Ma.

Hold breath while mentally repeating the mantra 4 times.

Breath out through the nose in two strokes while mentally chanting Wahe/Guru. (Wahe/Wow! + Guru/Inner teacher = Cheers to my inner super hero!)

To end: Breath in for the count of 4. Hold breath for the count of 7. Breathe out through a circle mouth, making a whooshing sound, for the count of 8. Repeat 4-8x.

                                          Practice Timing:

3 minutes: Affects your circulation, blood chemistry and stability of the blood. The increased blood circulations begins, distributing enhanced neuroendocrine secretions throughout the body.

7 minutes: Brain patterns start to shift from the static of beta waves, to calmer alpha waves and ultimately to deep relaxing delta waves. Simultaneously, the magnetic force surrounding the body increases in strength.

11 minutes: The pituitary gland, glandular system and the nerves start to learn and change. The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems begin to accommodate the increased energy.

22 minutes: Anxiety producing thoughts in the subconscious begin to clear. Your three minds (negative, positive, and neutral) start to work together so your mental integration changes. 22 is the infinite number of longing and gives mastery of the mental realm.

31 minutes: Affects your whole mind and your aura. Endocrinological balance is achieved, as is balance of the chakra’s of the ethereal body. This balance persists throughout the day, and is reflected by changes in moods and behavior.

                                            Amount of days: 

11 days: 11 is the number of Infinity in the material world and conqueror of the physical realm. So it’s like the first step to break loose from the entanglement of the mind.

40 days: Helps to break negative habits that block you from the expansion possible through the Kriya or mantra, if done 40 days straight in a row

90 days: When you practice the Kriya or mantra for 90 days straight it will establish a new habit in your conscious and subconscious mind. It will change you in a very deep way.

120 days: When you commit to practice the Kriya or mantra for 120 days without skipping a day it will confirm the new habit of consciousness. The positive benefits of the Kriya get integrated permanently into your psyche.

1000 days: This will allow you to master the new habit of consciousness that the Kriya or mantra has promised. No matter what the challenge, you can call on this new habit to serve you.


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16 Picture Books on The Mind for the K-5 Classroom

A Girl Like Tilly: Growing Up With Autism by Helen Bates

Alphabreaths by Christopher Willard & Daniel Rechtchaffen

Angry Octopus by Lori Lite

Angry Octopus: Color Me Happy, Color Me Calm by Lori Lite

Glad Monster, Sad Monster by Ed Emberley

Go Away Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley

I Can Do Hard Things by Gabi Garcia

My Book of Feelings by Tracey Ross

Our Brains Are Like Computers by Joel Shaul

Robin And The White Rabbit: A Story To Hep Children With Autism to Talk About their Feelings and Join In by Åse Brunnström & Emma Lindström

The Adventures of Your Brain by Dan Green

The Brain: Our Nervous System by Seymour Simon

The Girl Who Thought In Pictures: The Story of Dr. Temple Grandin by Julia Finley Mosca

The Rhino Who Swallowed A Storm by LeVar Burton & Susan Schaefer Bernardo

Winston Wallaby Won’t Stop Bouncing: What to Do about Hyperactivity in Children Including Those with ADHD, SPD and ASD by Joy Beaney and Kay Al-Ghani

Your Fantastic Elastic Brain: Stretch It, Shape It by JoAnn Deak, Ph.D.

Titles are linked to reviews that I have written. All opinions are my own.


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Mindful Book Reviews By Eve: Massive Candlewick Press, Childen’s Book Reviews Roundup! Yeehaw!

 

Alphabet Street by Ingela P. Arrhenius Ages 2-5

This pop-up book is so creative and will inspire hours of play and learning. The book is full of fun and quirky rhymes that take the reader through the shops and to meet the people on Alphabet Street,  all the while leaning the letters and sounds along the way. But that’s not all! This book also folds out and includes a beautifully illustrated play scene on the reverse of the shops and will inspire hours of imaginative play. I can see getting lost in the dreamy pastel artwork by the author and illustrator, Ingela P. Arrhenius. This is a wonderful ABC book and would make a great gift for a budding reader!

Jon Klassen’s Hat Box. Boxed set of Picture Books Ages 4-8

This is a beautiful boxed presentation of the wry and though invoking Hat stories by Jon Klassen. The books included are: I Want My Hat Back, This Is Not My Hat, and We Found a Hat, and a print of that scruffy bear, rabbit and the sought after hat. The engaging watercolor illustrations are enough to tell the story. It’s all in the subtle expressions and side-eyed glances. Each page builds up to the surprise, ending and the wry expressions of the characters add to the slightly racy humor. These are intricately crafted stories of cause and effect and fit in along side Aesop’s Fables. They each have something to teach. There is nothing wrong with a book that does not tie itself up with a pretty bow at the end. Some stories are sassy and these are some of the best! This would make a great gift for the holidays!

Inside Outside written and illustrated by Anne-Margot Ramstein & Matthias Arégui Ages 4-8

Wordlessly this beautiful picture book leads the reader into worlds large and small to bolster creative imagination. Within each two page spread, the reader is drawn narrowly into and widely out of scenarios where they might become a spelunker, a dog inside a doghouse or even a chick inside an egg. These unique perspectives will surely lead to interesting questions from curious kids and can offer great prompts for story telling, creative writing and afternoon day dreams. I love this concept and so appreciate the accessibility of a picture book that can expand to satisfy a larger audience: young, old, those who can read and those who cannot. Wonderful!

Mr. Scruff by Simon James Junior Library Guild Ages 3-7

This adorable book about people and their pets will grab attention with its fun rhymes and super charming ink & watercolor illustrations that will definitely elicit giggles. What is really special about this book is its compassionate story of diversity, acceptance and love. Kindness for animals, understanding that our choices have a resounding affect and that love is what makes the world go round. I highly recommend this heart-warming, heart-felt story.

Just Because by Mac Barnett Ages 4-8

This book is childlike satire at its best of the traditional bedtime avoidance rituals. Just before the lights can out, the fathomless quesions about life commencnse. Isabelle Arsenaults beautifully illustratoes each of the dad’s creative responses with gouche, pencil & watercolor illustrated 2-page spread of dream-scapes including flying fish, dinosaurs floating in space and mice blowing bubbles, all done with gorgeous muted tones that lend to the feel of nighttime and the slowly closing eyes of the sleepy child. This is a really cute bedtime book that will have you running to look up the real answers to these age old questions because curious minds will want to know! I highly recommend it! The expressions of the dog are priceless!

Paper World Planet Earth Illustrated by Bomboland  Ages 8-12

Paper-cutting is the art of cutting paper and this book takes this laser-cut multi-dimensional art-form deep into the earth’s core. I just love the creative use of vivid colors to create dimension, texture, and shadow that literally jump off each 2-page spread. Along with its in-depth scientific teachings, this book creates a sense of wonder.  On top of the already multi-layered aspect of the pages, there are flaps and die-cuts that offer more in-depth information about this big beautiful planet we call home. This truly one-of-a-kind book will appeal to readers of all ages and will bolster the curiosity of budding scientists, environmentalists and highly curious people!

Playlist: The Rebels & Revolutionaries of Sound by James Rhodes Ages 12+

Right off the bat, with the gorgeously colorful marbled paper-art end-pages, you know this book is going to be engaging. This book is a multi-sensory treat exciting not just the eyes and mind but also the ears and the whole body. By including a Spotify play-list, your senses get an extra jolt by adding the emotional quality that only music can bring. Through music, the whole being is able to experience these “original” rock stars of classical music, a genre often overlooked when considering the basis of current music. Bach, Mozart, and Beethoven are hip!
The back stories plus the ties to current day movies, and music offer just enough information to entice even the most stubborn “pop” fan into appreciating the inspiring stories of these great composers. I was motivated to find the full tracks of the songs and really listen to these amazing pieces that helped shaped every piece of music and ring tone we hear today.

This is a great gift book and would look especially awesome on a coffee table or for your favorite band teacher! The collage, silkscreen & digital illustrations by Martin O’Neill are really well done and are very exciting and add a lot to the text. Each one could become a framed piece of art!  

Walk This Underground World by Kate Baker Ages 5-8

Wonderfully informative! This creative non-fiction picture book opens up the underground world by taking the reader from deep in the underground city of Montreal to the subways of Tokyo to burrows of prairie dog and mole rats. This book will inspire curiosity and a realization that what is on the surface is just that and that there are many hidden gems that go into life on this an amazing planet. Sam Brewster intricately details each 2-page spread page with pop-open doors, windows and crevices to give an ever deeper peek into the teeming underground life. I highly recommend this book. It will excite and instill the desire for the young reader to know about our planet helping to create budding scientists, archaeologists, architects and highly interested and engaged people. 


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Mindful Book Reviews By Eve: Give Me Back My Bones! by Kim Norman

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Really fun, quirky rhyming book with a solid description of anatomy of the skeleton, that is perfect for the budding scientist. It brings new words and a deeper understanding of the skeletal body in a fun, non-scary way. The book is very clever and step-by-step reconstructs a pirate skeleton all the while imparting scientific knowledge and answering questions like “what is inside me?” and “what do these body parts do?” This is a great first book of anatomy for teachers scientists, doctors, yoga teachers and is fully accessible to very young children with its endearing, friendly, humerus (ha ha) skeleton and beautifully detailed underwater scenes. This is a great book for the Halloween book shelf and to celebrate “Talk Like A Pirate Day.” I love the big bold colorful illustrations by Bob Kolar and there’s a wonderful skeleton poster inside the jacket. This book is a winner from front to back!

I highly recommend it and cannot wait to share it with my littlest yoga students as we bend stretch, and strengthen our skeletons!

Thank you to Candlewick Press for sending me this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

For more information about me, please visit alwaysbedancing dot com

#bookreviews #children #picturebook #fiction #anatomy #skeleton #halloween #pirate #silly #STEAM #STEM #juvenileliterature #ocean #undersea #treasurechest #alwaysbedancing #evecostarelli #iameve


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Always Be Dancing: 40+ Day Kundalini Kriya and Meditation Series

My day starts with an 11-minute Sa Ray Sa Sa meditation.

This version is to be practiced on the Full Moon, but I was so inspired by this meditation for Saturday’s full moon (5/4/2019) that I am continuing with it, for at least 40 days.

This version of the meditation is a key to opening the flow of Kundalini. The new awareness will give you the authority to make the right choices to conquer the ugliness of life. You will be peaceful and secure. *Yeah, I need this!

Mantra:

Sa Ray Sa Sa, Sa Ray Sa Sa, Sa Ray Sa Sa, Sa Rang

Har Ray Har Har, Har Ray Har Har, Har Ray Har Har, Har Rang

Mudra and Movement:

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  1. Start with hands flat together in Prayer Pose at the Navel Point. Breathe in.
  2. Sa Re Sa Sa, ascend the palms up the center front of the torso passing all the chakras, about 4·6 inches in front of the body

*Passing by Heart Center, begin to open the hand mudra to resemble a lotus flower; fully open by the time the hands reach the level of the Brow Point. (The open lotus has the base of the palms together, the little finger tips touch and the thumb tips touch. The rest of the fingers are spread open to express an open lotus flower.)

*The full path up coordinates with: Sa Ray Sa Sa, Sa Ray Sa Sa, Sa Ray Sa Sa, Sa Rang

4. Har Re Har Har turn the fingers to point down, with the back of the hands touching

*It is a reverse Prayer Pose. Slowly bring this mudra down the chakras in rhythm with the music until the fingertips reach the Navel Point on the sounds Har Rang. Then turn them around and begin again.

*The full path down coordinates with: Har Ray Har Har, Har Ray Har Har, Har Ray Har Har, Har Rang

Time: 11 – 31 minutes.

Here is Nirinjan Kaur’s FANTASTICAL version!

 

             Meditation for Prosperity II (Har Har)

                                          Posture: Sit in Easy Pose, with a light chin lock 

                                  Eyes: Focus at the tip of the nose, eyes are 9/10th closed.

Mudra: Elbows are by the sides, forearms are at a 45° angle, with the fingers at the level of the throat. The exercise begins with the palms facing down.

Alternately strike the sides of the hands together. When the palms are face down, the sides of the Jupiter (index) fingers touch, and the thumbs cross below the hands, with the right thumb under the left.

When the palms are face up, the Mercury (pinky) fingers and the Moon Mounds (located at the base of the palms) touch.

Yogi Bhajan said that the thumbs crossing in this way (right under left) is the key to the meditation.

Mantra: Har

Chant continuously from the navel, using the tip of the tongue (pronounced “hu-duh”).

Time: Continue for 3-11 minutes. To end, sit quietly and reflect on the vibration of the mantra. 

Set for the Nervous System and Glandular Balance*

This kriya is for reducing stress and fortifying the mind and body to effectively respond to change in a healthy way.

*I am doing all the exercises in this kriya for 3 minutes each. It is a very powerful kriya and after doing the full sequence on day-one, I decided to break it down so my body and mind are more prepared and can sustain this for a 40 or more day challenge. Please remember to breathe and rest between each section. I find that to end, I breathe in through my nose, with closed eyes, I roll my eyes up to look at third eye, and hold my breath for 10-15 seconds. I also make sure to have a gentle neck lock and root lock**.  I like to notice the colors that appear before my “eyes”-noting their relation to the chakras. I then continue to breathe normally and rest for another 2-3 breaths before I continue on. 

**I describe the sensation of the neck lock as a subtle lifting-up behind the ears to create a long back of the neck and of the root lock as a gentle pulling-up on the muscles of the “seat” as if to try and lift yourself off the floor.

  1. Sit in Easy Pose with the arms extended straight out to the sides parallel to the ground. The palms are facing up. Begin to move only your Saturn finger (the middle finger) up and down rapidly. Using a powerful breath, inhale as you raise the finger and exhale as you lower it. Continue rhythmically, coordinating this movement with the breath for 7 minutes. This exercise stimulates the pituitary to create a balance between the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems.
  2. Remain is Easy Pose. Stretch the arms out in front parallel to the ground. Place the left hand over the right interlacing the fingers with the palms facing down. Begin to rapidly swing your arms from side to side, moving the head and neck in the same direction as the arms. Keep the elbows straight. Continue coordinating the movement with a powerful breath for 5 minutes. This exercise makes the body very flexible. It also strengthens the chest muscle and stimulates the lymph nodes in that area.
  3. Sitting in Easy Pose, extend the arms straight out in front, parallel to the ground. Make fists of the hands with the thumbs tucked inside touching the fleshy mound below the little finger. Keeping the arms and hands straight, bring the left arm up as the right arm goes down. Continue alternately moving the arms up and down forcefully, coordinating the movement with forceful breathing for 8 minutes. This exercise works to balance the parathyroid gland and stimulates weight loss.
  4. Butterfly Pose. Sit with the soles of the feet pressed together. Draw the feet into the groin, keeping the knees as close to the floor as possible. Interlace the fingers and place the hands in the lap.

Inhale and raise the arms up over the head while simultaneously drawing the knees up towards the center of the body. Exhale and lower the knees and arms down to the original position. Continue rhythmically coordinating the movement with powerful breathing for 8 minutes. This exercise balances the prana and apana, and sets the navel point.

 


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Mindful Book Reviews by Eve: You Are Light by Aaron Becker

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This book is simply delightful. From the very first turn of the page, which casts a gorgeous mandala shadow onto my hand, I was drawn into its sturdy die-cut frame and stained-glass creativeness. The poetic prose match perfectly with the play of translucent-jewel toned inserts that radiate around a bright yellow sun, together illuminating the story of the sun’s effect on the water cycle while at the same time reflecting the story back onto the reader. You cannot but hold it up to the light at each turn! It’s truly mesmerizing and joy-inducing. This book is very clever and artfully profound. It will certainly delight young children but it has a wider outreach due to its unique and beautiful presentation of both spirituality and natural scientific facts.

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This book is an absolute exuberant celebration of life. With few words, it reminds us to be mindful of our consumption, of our relationship to mother earth and of our connection to every living thing. It is truly an awakening. This book is the full package: creative concept, engaging story; good for young and old…and it is devotedly dedicated to STEAM. I love it!

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Thank you to Candlewick Press for sending me a copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.