Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Breathing in, I smile to my heart. Breathing out, I release all tension in my heart

My intention for the next 30 days is to meditate for 20 minutes a day and see where that brings me. I have no expectations, just the desire to do so.

If you meditate for only twenty minutes a day you can achieve deep relaxation.Deep relaxation is a wonderful chance to allow our bodies to rest. When our body is at ease and relaxed, our mind will also be calm and at peace. The practice of deep relaxation is a very important tool to allow our bodies and minds to heal.

Deep relaxation has specific characteristics (as defined by Herbert Benson).

If You Meditate You Will:

•Decrease in heart rate
•Decrease in respiration rate
•Decrease in skeletal muscle tension
•Decrease in metabolic rate and oxygen consumption
•Decrease in analytic thinking
•Increase in skin resistance
•Increase in alpha wave activity in the brain

Meditating for 20 minutes a day, over time, can lead to a generalized feeling of relaxation in many areas of one's life.

Some of the benefits of deep relaxation are (Bourne, 1995):

*reduction of generalized anxiety
*preventing stress from building up
*increased energy and productivity
*improved concentration and memory
*reduction of insomnia and fatigue
*increased self-confidence and reduced self-blame
*increased availablity of feeling
*prevention and/or reduction of psychosomatic disorders such as hypertension, migraines, headaches, asthma, ulcers...

Monday, December 28, 2009

Rich Detail

I believe that children learn best when taught with rich detail. I carry that belief into all my classes, for youth and adults alike.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Rhythm of the Streets

When we walk down the streets in America, the soundtrack in our mind runs on a 4/4 time signature: 1 2 3 4, 1 2 3 4...OR 1 2 3 4, 1 2 3 4...

In Spain, when we promenade, we have a totally different rhythm pattern running through our mind: 12 3 45 6 7 8 9 10 11 12... OR 12345 6, 12345 6...OR 12 3, 12 3, 12 3, 12 3...OR 12 3 456 78 9 10 11 12...OR "a sand wich" "a sand wich"

It's true...Travel and see!

About "A sand wich":
 This refers to the contratiempo beat, which is the syncopated clapping so often used in flamenco. You will need to clap on the "and" in-between two whole notes (for example: 1 and 2 and 3 and 4). One of the best methods to internalizing this feeling of the syncopation is to practice keeping time “on” the beat with your foot while making a clap precisely midway between the beats you are keeping with your foot, there by clapping on the off-beats. Once again, start slowly and build your speed up. A method I use when teaching (taught to me by the estimable La Meira is to use the phrase “sand-wich, A, sand-wich” while clapping and stamping. The word “Sand” refers to the foot stamp, followed by “wich”(clap), without pause clap on the “A” and repeat with foot stomp on “sand”...etc. Numerically that sequence corresponds to “sand=1” “wich=and” space for 2 “A=and. Once again, focus on the precision of timing and the quality and consistency of your tone. Once you feel secure, you are ready to add jaleo or a basic foot pattern with both the on- and off- beat palmas.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The View From Here

Quoted from After-School Yoga Evaluation form (Fall 2009):

Eve, I wanted to thank you for everything you are doing for my daughter in your yoga class. Your program has already had such a profound effect on her self esteem. She practices her "poses" and meditation almost every night with such a powerful level of concentration, commitment and pure enjoyment. As I mentioned to you, she is on the autism spectrum and has been getting physical therapy services since she was 16 months. She has never been very "physically" successful and you are inspiring her and she feels "successful" ! Please keep up the amazing work. As long as you're teaching...we're in.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


*Youth Flamenco, Tap and Yoga Classes*
* Choreography*

Remember to "Always B Dancing"!

Happy Holidays to all!



Thursday, December 17, 2009

15 Minute Yoga Snack: Our Hands Are Important

Today's 15 Minute Yoga Snack:

Seated in Easy Pose, 3 large Balloon Breaths (fill belly on the inhale)Bumpy Camel (Balloon Breath at the end of every exercise)Washing Machine (saying Sat Nam: Truth is my identity) & Dryer. Slowly rise up into Tadasana, hands over head and then hands to heart center. We did 3 calming ohms (pronounced "ong" like the word "gong" without the first "g"; you can make your ohm sound like a ancient gong)

Still standing, we did "We're The Rockin' Yogi's". We started by stamping our feet "right, left" then one clap. It is a real sense of accomplishment and coordination to be able to keep the beat and sing at the same time.

The kids were very energetic and full of excitement today. We definitely found concentration to be a challenge, but I was so happy to see how much participation I saw and that they kids were genuinely happy and engaged!

We bent over into Uttanasa, because during times when you feel over excited, bent over poses are the best to bring a sense of calmness and peace to your mind.

Our final pose was Nataranjasana (Dancer's Pose).

The end of the class, we did our Sa-Ta-Na-Ma meditation (4x Out Loud, 4x Whisper, 4x In Head, 4x Whisper and 4x Out Loud).



What is the meaning of Sa-Ta-Na-Ma?

SA= Infinity (You are infinite)

TA= Life (You come here)

NA= Death (You leave here)

MA= Rebirth (You remember that)

These are the five primal sounds of the universe (S, T, N, M & "A")

How to perform the mediation with the mudra (hand position):

On Sa touch the index finger to your thumb; on Ta touch the middle finger to your thumb; on Na touch the ring finger to your thumb; on Ma touch the little finger to your thumb. Apply a two pound pressure every time you touch the fingers. Continue moving the fingers throughout the exercise, even during the silent part.

Sa - Index finger to thumb – This means Wisdom and Knowledge
Ta - Middle finger to thumb – This means Patience
Na - Ring finger to thumb – This means Health and Energy
Ma - Little finger to thumb – This means Intuitive Communication

The thumb is associated with the fire element, the lung meridian and the planet Mars and represents willpower and logic. The index finger is associated with the air element, the stomach meridian and the planet Jupiter. It represents the mind and the power of thought. The middle finger is associated with the ether element, the circulation and gallbladder meridians and the planet Saturn. It represents our spiritual path. The ring finger is associated with the earth element, the liver meridian and the sun (or Apollo, the sun god). It represents vitality and health. The little finger is associated with the water element, the heart meridian and the planet Mercury. It represents communication, sexuality and personal relationships.

"Everything grows and then it changes, Comes back around in another form, The seed to the tree, tree to the earth, Earth to the seed and then it's reborn" Lyrics by Shakta Khalsa.

**A note: The word Namaste seem to be made up of the 5 primal sounds of the universe Na-Ma-Sa-Ta....

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

After School Yoga: Mandalas

This past Monday was the last class of the fall session's after school yoga program. We had a yoga party of sorts. We statred with a few warm-ups to center ourselves and heat up the energies in our bodies.

I brought Mandalas for the students to color, so we spread out at the tables and listened to Kitaro's "Silk Road". I had brought 4 different designs and each yogi/yogini picked out the one that they were most drawn to.

While they colored and the music played softly in the background, I read to them the story called "The Elephant And The Dog" from the book "Buddha At Bedtime" by Dharamachari Nagaraja. The moral of the story is even the most unlikely of characters can become friends.

What is a Mandala?

The meaning of mandala comes from Sanskrit meaning "circle." Mandalas are geometric designs symbolic of the universe that are used as an aid to meditation.

How do I use a Mandala?

1. Set your intention for your practise (An intention is a promise you make to yourself and a way of putting logic and beliefs into action. One way to set your intention is to focus on something you are grateful for. You can also set it based on a quality you want (spontaneity, flexibility, peace of mind, inspiration, concentration...) in your life and/or yoga practice.

The design of the mandala is meant to attract the viewer visually, so much so that the mind becomes absorbed by it. The design’s hypnotic effect relaxes the mind. With a relaxed mind, the individual is able to focus his attention inwards rather than focusing on life’s usual distractions. In this state, imagination flows which in turn increases creativity, sympathy, and self respect.

2. Focus on the mandala. Let your eyes take in the radiance of its designs. Release your mind. Recognize when your mind wanders back to your list of choirs or your concerns and simply bring your attention back to the beauty of the mandala. Let the mandala absorb your attention. In time, you will begin to feel luminous and fresh and spontaneous thoughts may arise. Relax and allow these thoughts in. If at any time you begin to feel lost, uncomfortable or distracted, re-focus your attention back on the mandala.

Everyone’s experience will be different but meditating with the mandala can be relaxing and you can come away with a clarity concerning the intention that you set at the beginning of your practise.

The last fifteen minutes of class was time for favorite poses. The students could show a pose that they had learned during the program or make up one of their own. I saw crow, wheels, camel, tree, dancer's, fish in a boat, lunges, squats, picture frame, candle, triangle...)

Thank you to all my yogis and yoginis!


Monday, December 14, 2009

15 Minute Yoga Snack: Yoga is fun!

That was the general consensus in 1H today as I began yoga class....I asked, "What is yoga?" and the kids said, "YOGA IS FUN!" Got to love it!

We started today in Easy Pose kicking off our 15-Minute Yoga Snack (15MYS) with 3 large belly filling Balloon Breaths. I explained the use of Ujjayi Breathing (please see post on 12/13/09) and we were ready to go. Our Intentions were set to remain focused within our own bodies and to feel happy and ready to learn at the end of our session.

Our warms included: Bumpy Camel, Washing Machine (while saying Sat Nam, which means, Truth is my identity), Dryer and then finally a rousing set of Frog Push-Ups to get our blood moving. We ended our push-ups with a Deep Squat using the back of our arms to press open our thighs.

We sat down again and had fun clapping and singing to We're The Rockin' Yogi's. The coordination it takes to pat the floor two times, clap, and rest before repeating, all while signing is a great activity for the kids. At the end, I have them finish the last verse while whispering, to once again bring the energy down and focus within.

We stood up and after Tadasana, we formed two lines and danced and sang to "Happy Jio" which is a total crowd-pleaser.

To ground them for their day, we ended our session with the Sa-Ta-Na-Ma meditation.


*The next day, a mother came up to me and told me how much her son was loving my class and that he could not stop talking about it sharing what we do! I said, "Put that in writing!"

Sunday, December 13, 2009

What is a 15-Minute yoga Snack?

The 15-Minute Yoga Snack is an in-school yoga program designed by Eve Agush. Eve brings a burst of yoga into the k-12 classroom to allow students a moment of time to be inside their own bodies and also a moment in time to share as a whole class. In a non-competitve atmosphere, Eve leads the class through a series of breathing exercises (pranyama), yoga postures (asanas), meditation and deep relaxation.

The 15-Minute Yoga Snack can be increased in time to the 30-Minute Yoga Break or the full 1-Hour Yoga Session.

To bring the 15-Minute Yoga Snack to your classroom, please contact:


15 Minute Yoga Snack: Ujjayi Breathing

Ujjayi , which translates as victorious, breathing is a balancing breath that is both energizing and relaxing. It is a diaphragmatic breath, which first fills the lower belly, rises to the lower rib cage, and finally moves into the upper chest and throat. The oceanic like sound-comparable to waves rolling in and out- is created by gently constricting the opening of the throat to create some resistance to the passage of air. As the throat passage is narrowed so, too, is the airway, which then creates a "rushing" sound. Because the diaphragm is controlling the length and speed of the breath, it is becoming stronger which is, in part, the purpose of ujjayi.

We started today's 15-Minute Yoga Snack (15MYS) in Virasana (Hero's Pose), our knees out wide, sitting on our feet. We took 3 large Balloon Breaths, filling our bellies, by breathing in first with the nose, and then releasing our bellies by breathing out through the nose. We set our intentions: to feel energized and revived, ready to concentrate on our studies.

We leaned forward into Balasana (Child's Pose) and rested for a few breaths.

We sat up into Easy Pose and did Bumpy Camel, Washing Machine & Dryer. From there did a rousing round of Frog Push-Ups. We ended with a low squat, pressing our thighs open with the backs of our arms and then everyone practised Crow Pose-I was so impressed with the kids focus and determination to try to balance and also with how many kids could actually balance the pose.

We then lay on our backs and took i some relaxing cleansing breaths. Carefully, we did 1/2 Ardha Sarvangasana (1/2 Shoulder Stand)-which is the queen of all poses. Everyone was very energized and happy after that.

We ended class with Sa-Ta-Na-Ma meditation (4x out loud, 4x whisper, 4x in head, 4x whisper, 4x out loud).