Always Be Dancing Expressive Arts

Yoga and Flamenco for Every/body


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Book Review by Eve: All Birds Have Anxiety by Kathy Hoopmann Jessica

 

IMG_7319The author, Kathy Hoopmann, has found a great vehicle in using photographs of the expressive faces of birds in partner with a short phrase describing the very real and very serious subject of anxiety. The fabulous photographs bring the words to life. Each description of a level of anxiety allows the reader to empathize with and feel compassion for the very stressed out “birds”. This is totally relatable to ones own perceptions of and connections to anxiety but it also gives insight into the world and people around us. The book presents many varied aspects of anxiety and how they negatively effect us physically, mentally and emotionally. After taking the reader through these very descriptive definitions of anxiety and it’s out-reach (or in-reach, as it were), I so appreciated the feeling of lightness and a belief that their can be relief from the pain and stress anxiety causes that was evident at the end of the book. The book offers various coping skills to allow a person to really hear what their inner self is saying and how to bring themselves out of fear such as learning to trust oneself, being brave, and taking action such as eating well, exercising, doing yoga, snuggling pets and caring for themselves and others (human, animal or plant); all of these leading to the initiation of the relaxation response to counteract the negative effects of the continual firing of the fight or flight response. And thereby, releasing a person from the grips of anxiety and arriving at a calmer place.

I recommend this book with its straight-forward prose and the beautiful and often comical photographs, to both children and adults. It is an extremely accessible tool for those who are experiencing anxiety. It should be available in schools, doctors offices, libraries and anywhere else people might find a little relief from their anxiety.

Full Disclosure: Kingsley Publishers (London & Philadelphia) sent me a copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Mindful Teachings by Eve: How I will use this book:

A certain amount of stress is normal but an over production can lead to an anxiety disorder which can wreck havoc on a child physically, mentally, emotionally and energetically. Yoga is an accessible, adaptive and inclusive method to decrease anxiety and bring about a better state of mind and a stronger connection to oneself.

Yoga for anxious children creates opportunities for them to:

  • Build self-esteem and confidence in a relaxed atmosphere while they improve their balance, coordination and proprioception.
  • Practice independence in a safe, non-judgmental environment
  • Experience a sense of community
  • Learn how to focus on and use their breathing effectively (which has a direct effect on their vagus nerve and the multiple benefits of a fit vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is the longest of the cranial nerves (nerves in the brain). The word “vagus” means “wanders” and this nerve wanders all the way from the brain through the neck and into the abdomen. The vagus nerve is literally the captain of your inner nerve center—the parasympathetic nervous system, to be specific, which controls the relaxation response as a counteraction to the fight or flight response of the sympathetic nervous system. This “captain”. When well tines, will do a great job of navigating functions and impulses of the body.)
  • Practice calming techniques such as visualization, meditation and physical movement.

In general, poses that bend forward are calming and poses and backward bending poses are uplifting. A forward bending pose has a long exhale (to calm) and a back-bend has a deeper inhale, to invigorate. If you are feeling depressed, do not practice too many forward folding poses as they will increase your feelings of melancholy, but a few can certainly make you feel safe, secure and quiet. Back-bending poses are great to amp-up energy, open the heart and to increase joy.

  1. Yoga To Settle In and Calm Down (not necessarily feeling anxious):
  • Belly Breath
  • Twist
  • 30 seconds to 1 minute of stillness in body, mind and energy
  • ADD: Tree Pose
  • ADD: Challenge: Tree to Dancer to Tree
  • ADD Challenge: Partner Tree/Partner Dancer
  • (FINAL POSE): 1-minute Exploration
  1. Yoga To Energize (suggested use,after lunch):
  • Trunk Breath
  • Mt-Up Mt-Chair-Skier-Rock-Hang-Roll-up
  • Balance poses
  • Real or imaginary “Blow-A-Pinwheel” breath
  • Mini Back Bends (energizing, invigorating, opening and warming)
  • Warrior I-II-III sequence (add in awakening affirmations)
  • Shake it out/Tap it out
  • 1-minute Exploration
  1. Yoga for an upset or anxious student:
  • Belly Breath

  • Child’s Pose (either on floor, standing, in chair or at desk)

  • Possibly lay on belly, if that is available.

  • Imaginary or Real “Blow-A-Pinwheel” breath

  • Forward bends (calming, cooling, exhale poses)

  • Back Drawing

  • 1-Minute Exploration

 

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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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Book Review: Stay Cool And In Control With The Keep-Calm Guru by Lauren Brukner; Illustrated by Apsley

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I was excited to receive my copy of Stay Cool And In Control With The Keep-Calm Guru by Lauren Brukner; Illustrated by Apsley, a book dedicated to empowering children to regulate their emotions and senses. This book is geared for children and has a “early reader” book feel with the large type face and engaging and very effective illustrations.

There are easy to follow symbols (I will make accompanying cards for easy reference.) The collection of body breaks and the checklist for the calming down process are excellent and very accessible. I personally love the included adjective charts-they are just great for empowering children to name their feelings. I also really appreciate how the book clearly defines the differences between physical, intellectual and emotional energies.

So important in the quest for self control.

The last part of the book is dedicated to the adults in these children’s lives and offers tips on how to support your child on their journey to self-discovery. The appendices are very helpful, offering various checklists, work sheets and visual sequences of the exercises in the book.

I highly recommend this book. It is a great tool for working with the wide spectrum of students/children we encounter. It is filled with practical tips on ways to identify and cope with anxiety, anger and other difficult feelings. It will be very useful to help familiarize them with basic self-control techniques and to empower them with clear, accessible communication skills.

Click here for a downloadable PDF that includes the appendices featured in the book.

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


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Halloween Yoga For Kids

Halloween Yoga Comes to Mini Miracles Childcare Center:human-skeleton-vector-illustration-body-anatomy-internal-organ-34569329

Class started, as it always does, with the ringing of the chime, breath in, breath out.

Me: Where does a skeleton live before it is dead and is buried in the ground?

Them: In the ground, in a scary house, icky and gooey….In your body!

Me: That’s It!

We had a talk about how some things are scary like skeletons, zombies, ghosts and witches, but they are not real, so even though you feel scared by them, they are not real and cannot hurt you. At Halloween, it is fun to dress up in scary costumes, but it is also fun to dress up in non-scary  ones, like Belle, Ariel, Superman and Elsa. Remember to respect other children’s’ feelings.Not everyone likes to be scared. Also remember, that even if you do feel scared, inside the costume is just a friend or a sibling or even a parent. Stay with your adult, do not run into the street and let your parent help choose the candy you can eat. Have a happy and safe Halloween!

Halloween Yoga Sequence for ages 15 Months+ All inclusive. Adapt as needed.

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Happy Pumpkin Pose To Color

  1. Happy Pumpkin: Easy pose with hands in Garuda Mudra at the heart center. Give yourself a heart hug as you breath in and out. mudra-garuda
  2. Twisting Ghost : While making a Woooooooooo sund like a ghost.

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3. Mixing the Candy : Slow to Faster one direction. Stop. Repeat opposite direction.

4. Candy Bowl: This can be done with hands in the back for support. Also, lift one hand, reach in and say “Trick or treat” as you pull out a piece of candy. Switch Sides. Then try both. Try mixing the candy while in bowl pose. Throw hands up and say “Happy Halloween.”img_3919

5. I Am Happy, I AM Good MeditationSitting, criss-cross yoga sauce. Pointer fingers stretched out and using thumb to hold other fingers curled.
I am happy; I am good. I am happy; I am good (Shake pointer fingers)
A-E-I-O (finger tips together at the belly button) ; A-E-I-O (finger tips together by the heart) ; A-E-I-O (finger tips together by the forehead); U (hands reaching up to sky).
Ha-ha-ha-ha (finger tips together by the forehead) ; He-he-he-he (finger tips together by the heart) ; Ho-ho-ho-ho(finger together at the belly button) ;Hooooooo (pronounced “who” hands reaching our by the knees). I have finger tips join as a brain gym activity.

6. Feel Your Heart Beat: Use Ride Your Bumpy Camel-up and down faster and faster, like a heart beat when you get scared. Then bring the tempo back down, to show resting heart rate.conferenceyoga-for-children-disordersppt-28-728

7. Howling Wolf: Hooooooowwwwwoooooooo & Back Cat: Meoooowwwwwwwyoga-poses-cat-cow-back-stretch-pose

8. Haunted House: Lift one leg up for a chimney, swirl the ankle for the smoke coming out of the chimney. Switch sides. img_3920

9. Kick Away The Ghosts: We did it 8x. donkey-kick

10. Welcome Mat: Taking a rest mid class. Lay on your belly, rest head, eyes and energy. Listen to your heart and try to hear your heart beating. Can you slow it down? Do you notice how calm you feel? How Happy? How Safe? How strong? crocodile_1

11. Zombie: Rise up and find your inner zombie. Similar to mountain and up mountain pose. Skip the last one  with the cut in 1/2, guts spilling out. But do say “arrrgggghhhh” and plod around on your mat a bit. zombie_yoga_by_wonder_twin

12. Crescent Moon: Can do it with breath. img_3922

13. Witch on a Broom (with hat), Witch Taking Flight & Flying Witch: “I am brave (Warrior I). I am bold (Warrior II). To our brooms, we take hold! (Warrior III)” 

14. Eye In The Sky: Twinkle fingers. Big smile.dsc01693

15. Owl: “whoooooooooooo” breath. Turn head side-to-side. Tuck arms in like wings. img_3923

16. Littlest Pumpkin in the Patchimg_3924

17. Tootsie Roll: The most calming!  bryce-gets-wrapped-up-like-a-map-during-yoga

 

18. Freeze Yoga Dance: Start out by leading them into poses and saying freeze to get them to hold the poses. Then let them do any poses they want and randomly stop the music. Then starting adding in suggestions, such as: Do a pose with one hand on the floor. Do a pose with your belly on the floor but not your feet. Make the smallest pose you can. The largest. And so on…

 Fun Halloween Songs:

  1. Purple People Eater
  2. Woolly Bully
  3. Monster Mash
  4. I Put A Spell On You
  5. Love Potion No. 9

¡Olé! Happy Halloween! Love, Eveimg_3917-1

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Flamenco Arms

flamenco armsFlamenco Arms

There are many different styles of arms, elongated and elegant; strong and sinuous. There is the classic style, lifting from the elbow or the modern style, with elbows bent and lowered first, riding tight to the body. Some arms are wild and unschooled. While still others are technical and calculated. All styles, when they are compatible with the dance, are authentic.

Your arms are never just your arms. They are an expression of your art. Next to facial expression, arms and hands are the most expressive element in flamenco dance. They capture attention as they create line, rhythm and feeling. They are the most difficult technique to master.

Learning to use your arms as part of your overall body line is of utmost importance, no matter what your style is. The arms must be extensions of the shoulders, chest, hips and legs. Arms held overhead are rarely held high enough and droopy arms are distracting and are definitely not flamenco!

 

To create the sweep for classic flamenco arms you must grow wings! Spread your back wide and lift your arms. Keep this image of wings as your back body spreads open to cradle the front body. As arms rise, shoulders must stay down and back. Not wrenched back, so that the shoulder blades pull in, but spread wide open to make the arms even longer than they already are. This is the key to the elegance and gypsy arrogance held in flamenco dance. Elbows must remain high throughout the movement as the shoulders remain down.  Feel the the initial extension of your wings from deep within muscles between the shoulders.  When you arrive at “T” position, shoulders must drop over the back of the rib cage. This will cause the front body, around the collar bones, to open wide, like a display case. There you will imagine that you are wearing a beautiful diamond necklace. This area is your display case, lift it up and display your necklace! Wear it proudly.

The arms must have energy all the way to the fingers; use Dynamic Tension. Feel your arms moving with the strength and unity of the whole shoulder girdle. 
Feel your arm pits are deep caverns with vaulted ceilings. You can create a small hollow opening inside as if to cradle a very ripe, very juicy apricot (do not squish it or drop it).

The passage of the arm must go through all the “stopping” points (3, 6, 9, 12 n  clock face) and create the shape necessary at each point (ie Never just bring your arm up with out passing through:  low “v” to “t” position to high “v” etc…). In low “v” & 6 o’clock,  make sure you do not compress the arm pits. 

Arms must always be controlled. Never throw them around as if you are directing air traffic. Arms are under constant tension. You can imagine from the torso to the wrists, as your arms rise, that an elastic band is pulling tights. Feel the tension, but do not show the tension. There is a buoyancy as they rise, like they are pushing through water. Keep the gently descending line from shoulders to elbow to wrist to finger tips. This picks up again as the arms pass through “T” position and then again the dynamic tension is created from the arms back into the body.  Make sure your arms flow.

A little about hands:

Hand movement are very personal and your hands are an extension of your personality and the emotional content to your dance. They are the fine sable hairs at the end of a paint brush. They add flourish, punctuation and can pull energy into your field or press it away. They add the final important details to your dance. the hands move from the circling of the wrists. The wrist circles do not involve any other part of the arms-so pay attention to your elbows!

 

There are two hand movement styles:

  1. Gypsy: The little finger leads the way in opening and closing the hand-like a fan opening and closing.
  2. Classic: The middle finger leads.
    • Keep thumbs in as you turn your wrist.
    • SEQUENCE: palm, fingers, wrist, fingers
    • Bend wrists as much as possible. Bring your finger tips towards the very inside of the wrist before making the rotation. That is your accents point. The unfurling carries the rhythm till the next accent.
    • Hands move with rhythm not randomly.

 


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Book Review: Growing Up Mindful by Christopher Willard, PSYD

bk04652-growing-up-mindful-published-cover_1I was pleased to receive the book Growing Up Mindful from the author, Christopher Willard, PSYD. As I have become increasingly more focused on bringing mindfulness into situations where mindfulness might not be readily available, such as in schools, offices, and  with the special needs populations, I have enjoyed the wide array of books on the practical applications of mindfulness, that I can adapt to my needs. Dr. Willard is at the top of the game. This book was really user-friendly with just enough scientific knowledge mixed with common sense. A dream book of ideas to help create a sense of balance, ease and flexibility in your life, that of your family and also to those around you. From the excellent mindfulness exercises to the practical advice, Dr. Willard offers creative and useful scripts, examples and ideas on how to bring mindfulness into your day. I highly recommend this book. It is an excellent tool for anyone: parent, teacher, and boss who wants to help young people bring mindfulness into their lives.

He also has an audio companion to his book available on Sounds True and a great set of Growing Mindful card deck that features 50 unique mindfulness activities to teach awareness, how to be present in the moment, and cultivate kindness & curiosity. Perfect for all ages! 514xcamlnel-_ac_ul320_sr192320_

As a special treat, here is a YouTube link to Dr. Willard’s TedX – Growing Up Stressed or Growing Up Mindful?

Disclaimer: The author sent me a copy of Growing Up Mindful. All opinions are my own.