Always Be Dancing

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

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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.

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Eve Costarelli’s preliminary teaching and performing schedule for 2016-2017

Dear Students & Families: past, present and future,

Welcome to my preliminary teaching and performing schedule for 2016-2017. All programs are inclusive and are adaptable.

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  1. This year, as lead youth/teen yoga and mindfulness instructor at Open Spirit Center, Framingham and their Nourishing Teachers, Strengthening Classrooms project, I am aiming to bring yoga and mindfulness to target populations of students and faculty at Framingham High School and Hoops and Homework, an award winning After School and Summer Program serving the most under privileged kids in Framingham, MA. *** My ability to reach these populations is determined by grants and private donations though the Open Spirit/ Nourishing Teachers, Strengthening Classrooms Project. For more information, please visit our donation page.
  2. I will be at Mini Miracles Childcare Center with Eve’s Awesome Yoga for ages 15 months-6 Years. Classes here are only available for center enrollees. 
  3. Anthony Tiriti Tran and I continue our educational program, ¡Olé Flamenco! with both Young Audiences of Massachusetts and Celebrity Series: Arts For All! We can come to your school or community gathering! All programs are inclusive and adaptable.
  4. On the performance front, I will be dancing for the Boston Arts Consort and Song Caravan. On the stage, you will find me either dancing traditional flamenco or my beautiful creative gypsy-freestyle, which blends my life of dance into my own artistic expression.
  5. I am available for *private and semi private work, site specific choreography, educational presentations and master classes. *My private lesson slots are filling fast.
  6. This summer, I had the awesome opportunity to bring yoga to a BINA Farm/Warrior Thunder Foundation event and I hope to do more work with both organizations.
  7. On Saturday September 24, 2016, I will be participating in Open Spirit Center’s Day of Spirit. Please join me for my gypsy-freestyle class and how mindful movement assists in freeing your artistic voice. Check Open Spirit Center/ Day of Spirit for more details
  8. Just throwing this out there: I am looking to create a 11+ yoga boys class. If you are interested or know of anyone, please share my information with them.

Please contact me for more information. All programs can be tailored to fit your needs. 

Thank you and Remember to Always Be Dancing!

¡Olé Namaste!




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Book Review: Cognitive Yoga: Mindful Stategies for Teachers by Lee Guerette

Cognitive Yoga


With school starting just around the corner, I was happy to be able to read and digest the wisdom imparted by Lee Guerette in her book Cognitive Yoga. Through exercises and insights that Lee has developed through her years of working with middle school students, she offers teachers ways to make their teaching more effective and students are made more aware of their own reactivity to themselves and to those around them. This leads to a well-nourished, more relaxed, thriving learning environment.

I loved the chapter about Setting Up A Serene Classroom that explains how subtle changes in the classroom’s physical environment can have huge results in creating a calming atmosphere where the teacher can spend her time teaching rather then controlling. Students do not even need to know that the elements are balanced in order for it to be effective. My other favorite part of the book, was her take on the Gunas, or the great states of energy, and how the interplay of these states of energy defines the character of someone or something. The three states which are sattva : goodness, constructive, harmonious and still, rajas: passionate, active, full of desire and restless, and tamas: dull, oblivious, negative and sluggish. All of these energies are present in each one of us and the purpose of identifying the different gunas is to help the students to be more aware of their own physical and mental states plus that of the surrounding environment. The coup de grâce is her likening each one of these energies to an animal personality: Satva= swan, Raja=tiger and tamas=sloth. Such a great teaching moment for kids and really so useful in my yoga classes in the public school environment.

Cognitive Yoga is focused on making school life accessible and successful for all students and teachers and on how to make life work constructively within the school environment. Ms. Guerrette shows her belief that all kids possess a gift for the world and by clearing the way for educators to do their jobs, the students will be able to grow, train and nourish this gift. Teachers in turn will find profound fulfillment. A phrase that comes to mind when I take in Ms. Guerette’s words is “Not knowing is different thany not knowing yet!”

I highly recommend this book for new and seasoned teachers alike and believe should be in every school library.

Full Disclosure: The author provided me with a copy of Cognitive Yoga. All opinions expressed are my own.

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Day Three: Dance In The Schools 2015 Eve’s STEAM Yoga…full steam ahead!

Day Three: Dance In The Schools 2015IMG_3840

Q: Why are skeletons so calm?

A: Because nothing gets under their skin

Eve’s STEAM Yoga…full steam ahead!

Spine Tingling Yooooogggggaaaaaaa-oooooooooooo! That’s as ghostly as it gets!

Third day of bringing yoga to the Maria Baldwin and the Graham and Parks schools in Cambridge. I love the ability to tie my classes into the curriculum, even of not something they are learning directly but my bringing into my classes mindfulness, movement, breathing, meditation, anatomy, science, coding, art, math and fun and tying it to kinesthetic learning, I feel I am creating the ultimate STEAM-yoga class going that is fully inclusive-all ages, all abilities, Eve’s STEAM Yoga…full steam ahead!

Mr. Thrifty is 33 ½ inches tall

Mr. Thrifty is 33 ½ inches tall

I brought my Mr. Thrifty skeleton to be able to point out the spine, sit bones, skull, hands, feet. I explained that Mr. Thrifty had never been a real person, that he was made of plastic, but he gives us an authentic version of the inside framework of the human body.

Class started with me ringing the bell. I told everyone to take a moment to practice with their breath-sticks, a good way to settle everyone down. I led the first round of 5 count breathing and then one student did.

Two meditations today: Sa-Ta-Na-Ma followed by a mindfulness meditation, closing eyes, breathing, filling up and noticing and deflating. Cool air to warm air. The noticing of the body: stiff, tired, pain?…then noticing the feelings: happy, bored, nervous, peaceful?…then noticing the mind: busy, cloudy, clear, calm…

Anatomy talk:

Start by pointing out parts of Mr. Thrifty. Bones are the framework for your growing body. Need a strong frame (physically, emotionally, soulfully). Spine: 24 vertebra (sing.)/vertebrae (pl.). Between each one is a soft, cushy disc. mr thrifty

Cool Bone Facts: Choose to pepper your conversation with some of these cool facts.

  • The spine can move in 6 ways: forward and back, leaning side-to-side and twisting right and left.
  • You are born with 300 bones but some of them fuse over time and by adulthood, 206 bones.
  • There are 26 bones in the human foot
  • There are 54 bones in the wrist and hand
  • The femur, thigh bone, is the longest and strongest in the human body


  • The stapes, in the inner ear, is the smallest and lightest
  • The arm is mostly commonly broken by adults, the collar bone by kids.
  • Bones stop growing in length-21 years. Bone density and strength change throughout life
  • Only bone not connected to any other, Hyoid, a v-shaped bone at the base of the tongue/throat
  • Bones are made up of calcium, phospherus, sodium and other minerals as well as protein collagen
  • Bones function as the skeleton for the human body, allows for body arts to move and protects organs from impact (just like we wear a helmet to protect our skull and a seat belt in a car.) Also, produce red & white blood cells.

Sitting criss-cross yoga sauce. Feel the sit bones. Point out that these are the bottom of the pelvic girdle-rock side-to-side to feel them beneath you…below the padding of your bottom and leading them in the 6 spinal movements:

Forward and back = seated cat and cow; slow at first with a reminder to feel the spine moving; then fast to make the feeling more bright.

Leaning side-to-side

Simple Twist-lift the right arm high, hold the left knee. Lift the left arm high and place it behind you, close to the body and near where your tail would be resting (an idea here is to have everyone wear a paper tail)Breath in and lift tall, then twisting from the navel area, breathing out and twisting towards your back hand. Gently. Breath in and then on the breath out release.

6 spinal movements from cw and cat: Hands and Knees-notice spine-cow and cat (forward and back movement); dog looking at tail (side-to-side movement); thread the needle (twisting movement).

Table top to ½ scorpion to pointer dog (long and strong) to full scorpion (right arm/left leg)-feel your spine twisting, pointer dog (long and strong one more time)to ½ scorpion to table top. Repeat left arm/right leg. Rest in child’s pose. Feel your belly pressing against your legs when you breath in and then as you breath out, your body soften, like it is a piece of clothe laying across a rock. Feel your spine taking the shape supported by your legs. Feel like you can make you back rest in the inside of an eggshell.

Downward facing Dog-spine feels long. Head is right between your arms and sit bones and pressing towards the crease where the wall and the ceiling meets behind you. Legs together. One leg up, wag it around. Bark like a dog. Switch legs. Then keeping both legs together behind you, doing uni-pod jumps-trying to kick yourself in the bottom. Bend knees. Look forward. Jump to your hands, Rise up…vertebra by vertebra, slowly slowly until all your vertebra have stacked up and you are standing tall.

Sun salutation:

Mountain pose

Breath in:arms up

Breath out: Sit in your chair-reach your arms across the room, palms facing each other.

In: Downhill skier pose (knees bent, belly resting on thighs, arms reaching)

Out: Bend forward, finger s on floor, head dropped

In: ½ way lift

Out: standing forward bend-but keep knees soft…

…though lunges, standing split, plank-jump forward repeat full sequence on other side.

Just in time for Yogini Went to Sea and then Happy Jio (both by Shakta Kaur Khalsa of Radiant Child Yoga “Happy” Cd.)

Melting down to the floor. Hugs knees into chest, feel your spine. Rock side to side. Release legs. Feet towards ceiling but not candle pose as I do not like to do this pose with so many kids as I cannot be sure they will act safely towards their necks. Point and flex feet. Ankle circles inward then outward. Hug knees in. Rock and roll 3x to come to a seated position.

Here we pratice what I call “Seated Tree (Janu Sirasana)” Start in Butterfly. Stretch right leg forward. Notice you are in tree pose here. Reach left arm high. Karate chop towards the pinky toe side of the foot or leg. 3x. Last one try to drape yourself over your leg. Fallen Tree. Repeat opposite side.

Lie on back. Easy lying twist.

Specific Spinal Facts:

kids spine

  • 4 Natural curves (see diagram)
  • Cervical Spine (neck) 8 vertebrae with 50 degrees rotation; thoracic spine (mid and upper back) 12vertabrae with 35 degrees of rotation; Lumbar spine (lower back) 5 vertebrae with 5 degrees of rotation, along with the Sacral spine which has the fused bones of the tail bone and move together with the lumbar spine with 5 degrees of rotation.
  • A little rhyme to remember number of vertebrae in each area of spine: Breakfast at 8, lunch at 12 and dinner at 5.vert2

CALCIUM: Calcium for strong bones, exercise for strong bones, meditation/yoga/mindfulness for a strong mind. Good food for a healthy body.

Best sources of Calcium:

milk, cheese, yogurt, tofu

kale, broccoli, chard, spinach, bok choy, okra

Edamame, black eyed peas, white beans, almonds, sesame seeds

Figs, oranges, black strap molasses


IMG_3845Proprioception: Knowing where your body is in space (difficult for kids with sensory processing disorder-expand) Refer to the game show “Hole In The Wall” or your ability to walk through a door frame without banging into the sides. Think about the positive/negative space that your body creates in space. Have kids pass by each other without banging into each other.

More cool bone facts:

  • human and giraffes have the same number of bones in their necks
  • bones meet at joints; held in place at the joints by muscles and ligaments; cartilage covers the bones to protect against rubbing.
  • Fascia is sheets of connective tissue like a spiders web or a sweater inside your body that covers the whole inside, wrapping everything in one continuous sheet.* Helps connect every part of the body to the other.* Should be wavy and stretch without resistance* Trauma ( physical, emotional, scarring, inflammation)-the fascia becomes less pliable, tight,

    restricted and a source of tension in the body.

    *influences the comfort and function of your body

    * affects stability and flexibility

    * affects our ability to withstand stress and perform daily activities


Dem Dry Bones: Yoga Style!

Yogini connected them strong bones

Yogini connected them strong bones

Yogini connected them strong bones

Now, breath in and breath out!

Dem bones, dem bones, dem strong bones

Dem bones, dem bones, dem strong bones

Dem bones, dem bones, dem strong bones

Now, big deep in, slowly breathe out!

Your toe bone connected to your foot bone

Your foot bone connected to your ankle bone

Your ankle bone connected to your leg bone

Your leg bone connected to your knee bone

Your knee bone connected to your thigh bone

Your thigh bone connected to your hip bone

Your hip bone connected to your back bone

Your back bone connected to your shoulder bone

Your shoulder bone connected to your neck bone

Your neck bone connected to your head bone

Feel the strength of your bones.

Them bones, them bones gonna walk around

Them bones, them bones gonna hop around

Them bones, them bones gonna skip around

Feel the strength of your bones.

Disconnect them bones, them calm bones

Disconnect them bones, them calm bones

Disconnect them bones, them calm bones

As we slowly melt to the ground.

Your head bone disconnected from your neck bone

Your neck bone disconnected from your shoulder bone

Your shoulder bone disconnected from your back bone

Your back bone disconnected from your hip bone

Your hip bone disconnected from your thigh bone

Your thigh bone disconnected from your knee bone

Your knee bone disconnected from your leg bone

Your leg bone disconnected from your ankle bone

Your ankle bone disconnected from your foot bone

Your foot bone disconnected from your toe bone

Feel your relaxed, calm bones!

Them bones, them bones gonna lay around

Them bones, them bones gonna twist around

Them bones, them bones gonna twist around

Feel your calm, relaxed bones!

Dem bones, dem bones, dem calm bones

Dem bones, dem bones, dem calm bones

Dem bones, dem bones, dem calm bones

Now, big breath in, long breath out!

Yogini connected them strong bones

Yogini connected them strong bones

Yogini connected them strong bones

Now, deep breath in, long breath out! Ahhhhhhhhhhh!


skele1 skele2 skele3 skele4 skele5 skele6 skele7 skele8

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Nourishing Teachers, Strengthening Classrooms: A morning of yoga and mindfulness

Little Helpers

                Little Helpers

Today, I had the wonderful opportunity to bring yoga and mindfulness into a first grade classroom at the McCarthy Elementary School in Framingham, MA. Since September, I have been bringing yoga and mindfulness to the Fuller Middle School through the wonderful non-profit Open Spirit’s Nourishing Teachers, Strengthening Classrooms project. We received a very generous grant from the Massachusetts Women’s Missionary Union for me to work with both the Special Needs and the typical population at the Fuller Middle School. It is so wonderful to see that other schools in the Framingham system are also interested in joining in on this project! Framingham is an amazing, open minded, positive approach school system! I have found my THING for sure!

  Today’s Yoga Class

1. Check-In: How are you feeling?; the Guidelines for Good Yoga Class Behavior; What is Yoga?; Child’s Pose.

2. Breath-work: Hoberman Sphere breath; What is meditation?

3.  Meditation: ” I am happy; I am Good” *

4. Warm-Up: bumpy camel, washing machine with Sat, Nam (explain that “nam” means “I”-you, your name and “sat” means “my truth”-I often use the example that if you lie and you get away with it,  the only person who you cannot hide the truth from is yourself. You will always know your truth), cat/cow, child’s pose, morning cup of coffee….

5. Yoga Story**

6. Cool Down (end of yoga story)

7. Savasana

8. Yoga Dance/Meditation: Yogini Went to Sea

9. Closing/Community Hand Squeeze Circle

* ” I am happy; I am good” meditation (my own spin, using vowel sounds and laughter yoga, on the meditation with the same name by Shakta Khalsa):

2x out loud (but with a quiet voice), 2x whisper, 2x in head (but continue hand movements), 2x whisper, 2x out loud (on the final time, I like to change the saying to “I am happy; I feel GREAT and really exaggerate the laughings.)

I am happy; I am good (waggle pointer fingers) x 2

A,E,I,O (hands joined at belly); A,E,I,O (hands joined at heart center); A,E,I,O (hands joined at third eye); U (throw both hands up)

Ha, ha, ha, ha (hands joined at third eye); He, he, he, he (hands joined at heart center), Ho, ho, ho, ho (hands joined at belly); Hu! ( throw hands open at sides)

At end, one big balloon breath together.

**Little Helpers: A Green Start Book “Good for Your Child; God for the World” by Ikids; Illustrated by Jillian Phillips

I may be just one little person (Child’s Pose) but what I do affects the world in a big way (jump up and do Star Pose).

When I plant a tree (Tree Pose)…and owl gets a new home Squat Pose with hoots)

When I pick up trash at the beach (Cross between Elephant breath and Swinging Gorilla pose with monkey sounds)…a crab has clean sand to crawl on (Crab Walk-forward, back and sideways)

When I put a feeder in the backyard (Boat Pose)…the birds have food to eat (Airplane Pose with flapping arms)

When I use a cloth grocery bag instead of paper (Downward Dog Pose with tail wags and barks)…there are more trees for the bears to climb (Bear Walk)

When I plant new flowers in the garden…bees have more nectar to eat (Flower Pose into Bat Pose with buzzing bee sounds)

When I turn off the faucet while brushing my teeth (Swipe the Peanut Butter Off Your Teeth Pose)…there is more water for the fish in the rivers (Fish Pose)

When I reduce, reuse and recycle (Lie down, bring knees in and  give yourself a big hug)…there is more open land for the deer to run (bring legs up to first do single leg raises then bring them up and over in an easy inversion)

When we all pitch in a little (rock and roll to seated; Easy Twist)…it makes a big difference to our world (Full Body Stretch on floor-set up for Savasana)

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Yoga Snack in Ms. Forzaglia’s room (Day 1)** Not sure if I posted this before…it is about 4 years old…

Today I started my once monthly yoga class in Anthony’s 4th grade classroom. The kids were all excited to see me and in the short span of 20 minutes, we got our yoga on! I know Ms. Forzaglia already does some yoga with her class, so everyone was ready and willing.

I started the class by asking “What is yoga?” Many hands shot up and I got: exercise, stretching, relaxing for your body and mind, slow movements and breath. Great words of wisdom and understanding. I reminded them that the most important thing to remember in yoga is the breath, because if we are not breathing, then we are….dead! Giggles? yes….but they get it.

We lay back on the floor and put one hand the chest and a hand on the bellies. I asked them just to breath (breathing in and out through their noses in the yoga fashion) and to then notice, when they breathed in, if the chest or the belly rose up? I mentioned that if the breath was lifting their chests, then they might be nervous, or excited or exhilarated or upset. I then had everyone put their hands on their bellies and with a breath in, we filled our bellies round, and on the breath out, we let the belly get soft. We did this for a few cycles and then let it go.

To get out hearts open, we pressed up into bridge pose, lifting our hearts, hips and chests to the ceiling  while at the same time grounding our feet, elbows and back of the head into the floor. Settling back, we brought or knees to our chest and then gave ourselves a big hug.

Coming up to stand, I taught a modified A series which is:
breath in….arms rise above head
breath out…fold forward into a standing forward bend
breath in….hands to shins into a 1/2 way lift
breath out…lowering down into a string plank (or the start of a push-up)…holding there and breathing in, out, in before
breathing out….lowering all the way to the floor
breathing in….pressing up into cobra pose (legs, pubis on floor; arms slightly bent with elbows pulling into the body)
breathing out (and hissing)….to the floor
breathing in
breathing out….pressing up into Downward Facing Dog pose
breathing in, out, in, out
Looking at hands and either walking or jumping feet to hands

I then turned on some music and we flowed through the A series a couple of times, adding in high then low lunges with a drop back.

One standing pose: Tree pose for focus, calmness and balance. Hands at heart center to create symmetry in the body; hands above the head to increase the belly work and balance.

A one minute Savasana to end class with a short lesson on Ahimsa which is exploring non-injury as a way to achieve harmony with our environment, peace between peoples and compassion within our selves (extending it past bullying, into the realm of positive thinking, self-acceptance and healthy eating).



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