Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Kiss The Earth

Today although it rained I decided to lead the kids in a walking meditation. I know in the classroom where we have yoga, the teacher has placed a path of words on the floor so I decided I would use that for my walking path.

After some rich calming breaths, we lay on our backs and hugged our knees into our chests. Keeping the right leg to the chest, we extended our left leg up and then slowly brought it to the floor. I had the kids clasp their hands behind their right thigh and then straighten the right leg up. Some kids could grab a little higher and still some could actually grab hold of their big toe. We concentrated on keeping our backs on the floor and not rolling over (Supta Padangusthasana). We then brought both legs back to the chest and then repeated the exercise on the left side.

Cat and Cows.

Butterfly (baddha konasana), holding our big toes with our peace fingers and singing “Fly like a Butterfly”. Legs stretched wide open on our mats, we did a wide legged forward bend (Upavistha Konasana) and then a forward bend with one leg extended with a twist (Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana)

Rising for Tadasana we clasped our hands behind our backs and bent foreword. Then rising again, we did standing side stretch (Parsva Tadasana)

Then a flow sequence:
Star Pose-to-Triangle (Trikonasana)-to-Extended Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana)-to- Intense Side Stretch Pose (Parsvottanasana) -to-Half Moon Pose (Ardha Chandrasana)

Lying back on the floor in constructive rest, we let our legs first fall to the right and then the left. Followed by Happy Baby.

Next came our walking meditation. I explained that regular breath and walking helped to calm the mind. I found a great description of how to do walking meditation written by Thich Nhat Hanh (Thich Nhat Hanh is an expatriate Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist) and I read them this passage,

“Walking meditation is a meditation while walking. We walk slowly, in a relaxed way. Keeping a light smile on our lips. When we practice this way, we feel deeply at ease and our steps are those of the most secure person on Earth. All our sorrows and anxieties drop away and peace and joy fill our hearts. Anyone can do it. It only takes a little time, a little mindfulness (here I added that mindfulness means being attentive, being heedful) and the wish to be happy."

I read them a poem also written by Thich Nhat Hanh called “Kiss the Earth”:
Walk and touch peace every moment
Walk and touch happiness every moment
Each step brings a fresh breeze
Each step makes a flower bloom
Kiss the earth with your feet
Bring the Earth your love and happiness
The earth will be safe when we feel safe in ourselves

I tried to have them follow a 2:2 ratio for breathing and walking, meaning 2 steps for each breath in and 2 steps for each breath out. I lead the way and had them form a single file line behind me. I suggested they use the phrase “lotus flower” or “green planet” for each breath in/out and for them to imagine this picture in their minds, so they connected with their words-they should imagine lotus flowers blooming under their feet (The lotus flower is a symbol of the sun, of creation and rebirth).

Ending with Savasana.

Ole Namaste!

Monday, March 29, 2010


Artistic Director, Zaira Meneses

Guitar and Friends is honored to present two celebrated artists from Venezuela:

Frank de Polo and Ruben Riera will present a delightful and varied program
"From Baroque to Tango"

Do not miss this unique opportunity to hear two great Latin American artists at the peak of their powers!!!!!

*Wine & Tapas after concert

Guitar and Friends works in collaboration with
The Boston Classical Guitar Society Dan Acsadi, President & the Boston Guitar Fest 2010 Eliot Fisk, Artistic Director

6:00 PM
$10.00 Suggested Donation

New Art Center
Mr. Dana Berry
61 Washington Park,
Newtonville,MA 02460
617-964- 3424

Friday, March 26, 2010

Patrice Monahan Jazz Quartet Saturday March 27th, 2010

Patrice Monahan Jazz Quartet Saturday March 27th, 2010

DON’T MISS IT! Eve will be performing her unique blend of flamenco and tap

Saturday March 27th, 2010; 8PM
$12/$10 Admission (Not handicap Accessible)
Church of Our Saviour
25 Monmouth Street
Brookline, MA 02446

Tickets and more info, contact@patricemonahan.com

Patrice Monahan - Piano, Vocals and Tap
Charlotte Dumont - Bass
Miki Matsuki - Drums
Rick Stone - Saxophone
And more....
Jason Davis - Bass
Karen Quatronomi - Guitar
Hessie Swain - Vocals
Valery Marcantonio - Tap
Eve Agush – Tap/Flamenco

Monday, March 22, 2010

Springing Forward

Today's' Yoga-Snack's theme was the entry of springtime. The feeling of new energy, grounding ourselves to the earth and standing strong, facing the change of the season.

We sat in easy pose and opened up our throat chakra by chanting or the toning of our voices. We started with a breath in and then out while toning the letter "A" (as in Play); breath in, breath out... "E" (as in "Ease"); breath in, breath out..."I" (as in "Identity"): breath in, breath out..."O" (as in "Ohm"); breath in, breath out..."U" (as in "You"); and breath in, breath out..."Y" (as in "Why"). Another good idea for clearing your throat is to drink water with a little peppermint oil in it.

A short, silent, still meditation followed and then easy stretches (arm out to one side, lean on it and take the other arm by your ear and then overhead) and an easy twist, to get rid of the winter's tired blood and let in some new energetic springtime blood.

Starting in child's pose, we became seeds, getting ready to grow. We all picked what kind of plant we wanted to be and then slowly we took root and started to grow, very slowly. Feeling grounded in the earth but at the same time starting to reach up to the sky. Pausing in table top (on all fours), then cat and cow, curl toes under and downward facing dog pose. Jumping forward, reaching up to the sky, bending over to touch the ground, flat back, stepping into plank pose; holding for 5 counts and lowering to the ground. Up into upward facing dog pose; down to the ground. Press back into child's pose and breath slow and easy. Repeat Sun Salutation and then immediately go into lunges, back leg stretched out, front knee over foot, hands first to knees, then hands above head. Repeat other side without resting. Then child's pose for final time.

Sitting up, we sang "Happiness Runs" (by Shakta Kaur Khalsa) along with the accompanying hand movements. I explained we would try later on to do it as a round and I brought up singing "Row Row Row Your Boat" which we promptly tried to sing in a round (got a good dose of laughing yoga there).

Low squat prepares us to try a balance pose-Hands to floor, lift with "cat pose" muscles (lower abs first) to try and get feet off the floor.

Then wide legged forward bend (Prasarita Padottanasana).

Warrior Series: Warrior I-to-Warrior III-to-standing splits-even trying to hold the standing ankle with one or two hands for an extra balance challenge.

Group tree while some of the students serenaded us with their own favorite songs.

Lying down, simple twist. Then into Halasana, plow pose to clear our bodies in preparation for the spring. Up into shoulder stand. Back to plow pose. Roll forward into seated forward bend.

Savasana with "The Rain Falls And The Sky Shudders" by Moby (OK this one is now officially on my yoga play list). Some kids chose to roll themselves up in their mats for a little relaxation and compression.

Ole Namaste!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Yoga-Snack: The Rain Falls and The Sky Shudders

Today’s Yoga-Snack is soggy! I mean everyone and everything feels soaked through and through. I came to yoga today with this prevailing feeling for the need for a restorative yoga class and thought the kids would be droopy when they came in. Well I was wrong! They were bouncing off the walls, but I held fast to my idea for the need to internalize and to focus within.

I chose to play music today, so we started class with a meditation listening to Moby’s “The Rain Falls And The Sky Shudders" (on Moby Songs). It is such a beautiful piece of electronic music. You can feel the sky opening and the rain coming down; there is no thunder, no real storming effect to it, just rain. It is very purifying. From listening to the music, feeling our breath and feeling our bodies relax; we crept inside ourselves and just were.

Next on the track was “Raga Malika” by Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan (on Ragas). Although there was no sun, we decide to reach for the sun and stretch from our feet to our finger tips. I had the kids step into low lunge and we held our knees to balance ourselves. Then with arms out stretched, we reached for the sun again, brought our hands together and let our heads fall back.

From there, we moved onto our bellies. From locust to crocodile a few times and then some free form air swimming with bellies on the floor. Due to popular demand, we practiced bow pose too. After resting, we tried Peacock pose, but found it too hard to get our feet off the floor. I love how everyone really tried to figure it out and balance and although no one got up, we were all smiling from our efforts.
To keep the smiling going, I decide to do some heart opening bridges and wheels. We all did bridge together and then with my assisting some and others on their own, we did wheel. I taught everyone how to carefully come down so as not to put undue strain on their necks or knees.

Rock and roll, rock and roll, up into boat pose. Tons of laughing here.

For a final challenge, we all did head stand prep. I allowed no one to go into full head stand without me, but after trying the prep, I assisted each student into a head stand and helped them carefully to descend. While they waited their turn, some did more prep and others rolled themselves up into their mats. One girl told me how much she loved the mat rolling, so much so that the other day at home when she and her sister were feeling anxious, they rolled themselves up in mats and it helped to calm them and made them feel relaxed.

We did a rousing version of “Happy Jio” by Shakta Kaur Khalsa (on Happy Radiant Child Music) some in partners and some just dancing away solo! That is one winner of a fun song!

In Savasana, I had a request to play the Moby song from the beginning of class, so we listened and relaxed to music too.

At the end of class I played “She Dips Water” by Joanne Shenandoah (on Matriarch: Iroquois Women’s Songs). What a gorgeous song! What a gorgeous yoga practice!

Ole! Namaste!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Yoga & Flamenco at the Tobin Montessori School, Cambridge, MA.

I am participating in Dance in the Schools 2010 for Children's Dance Teaching Artists. I was assigned two classrooms at the Tobin Montessori in Cambridge, MA. One group is a Pre-K to K group and the other is a Grades 1& 2 group. What a great way to start off the day; two yoga classes full of fun loving kids.

I started the classes by saying the number one most important thing about yoga is to have fun and that yoga should never hurt. The second most important thing is, here I would take in a big inhale and exhale and say “who knows what I just did?” They responded “Breathing” and I related the fact that breathing is something we do every day all the time; it is what shows that we are alive. Because of that yoga and breathing go hand in hand, that breathing allows us to yoga. We then took some big breaths in where I had them fill their bellies up in the inhale and release on the exhale. I had them notice that at first the air goes in cool, but when we exhale, the air is warm. I had them place their hands over their hearts and feel the beating of their own rhythm.

After warm ups and poses, we had fun dancing and singing to “Yogini Went to Sea” by Shakta Khalsa and then we sat and did my modified version of the chant meditation “I am happy; I am good” (see January 30, 2010). I was inspired right after to go into the a capella version of “We’re The Rockin’ Yogi’s”, too.

I then told the students that we were going to learn a little about a special dance called Flamenco, from Spain. I told them that yoga originated in India and that the original people who created flamenco also originated in India.

I had them practice a bit of foot stamping and then hand movements using the poem from a singer who I know:

Le coje la manzana (You fetch the apple)…Reach up!
Le muerde la manzana (You bite the apple)….Bring the apple past your mouth!
Le tira la manzana (You drop the apple)…Drop the apple!
Le pisa la manzana (You step on the apple)…Stamp your feet!

Then using a Pepe Habichuela and the Bollywoood Strings Orchestra piece, Yerbaguena-Oriente, we twirled, using our hands, stomping our feet. We danced flamenco. We shared our energy.

With a one final Sun Salutation, we lay on the floor and did Savasana.

Namaste! Ole!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Yoga-Snack 3/8/10 (1 hour program): Yoga Story

We started today by climbing a mountain (running in place up the mountain to warm up our bodies) and then at the top, we planted our feet, reached up high and greeted the sun. It made us feel warm, safe, good and happy. We continued with 3 more Sun Salutations, pressing up into cobra and using Downward Facing Dog Pose for mountain.

Sitting now in a grassy meadow, with the warm sun beating down on us, we took in some satisfying breaths: in through the nose and out through the mouth with a “hah”, out through the mouth with a sigh, and out through the nose, settling into some ugjiyi breathing.

We saw a beautiful butterfly (Fly Like A Butterfly and Butterfly Circle, legs in butterfly, hands go through the inside and then under the legs to hold hands with the person next to you) and a gentle wind blew by us (Simple Seated Twist). In the distance, we saw a mother bear and her cubs (so we got down into Downward Facing Dog Pose and did Bear Walk, forward with R hand, then L foot, then L hand, then R foot-and made some growls to be really bear-like). Squatting down to look in the grass, we see a (Praying Mantis) and then a Crane (Bakasana) rises up ahead of us.

We realize there is a stream nearby, so we (run) to get there. We hear the water and can feel the coolness as we get closer to the water. First we notice a small (Bridge) over the stream (although I also had the idea that we could use Bean Bags as rocks and try to step across them) and then we make our way to the water’s edge. We see a frog (Frog Push-ups), a (Turtle) a fish (Matsyasana) and then a beautiful rainbow (Side Plank-Vasisthasana).

(Running) again, we head for a group of Trees (Vrksasana) and then we see some fallen trees (we lay down and roll ourselves up in our mats and do a simple meditation of feeling the ground beneath us, feeling the cool air under the trees, seeing a pale green light filtered through the tree branches and feeling heavy, like a fallen log).

But in death, so comes life and bugs were alive on the tree and new growths had started to reach into the ground and up to the sky, so up we went, wiggling and wriggling and stretching and growing (well we also did “Dead Bug” here, just because we wanted to).

Rising for a fun and group rendition of “Happy Jio”. We then dropped to our mats, energized,happy and tired; ready for Savasana.

Namaste! Have a nice day!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The “Love Bubble” Meditation

Today’s afterschool yoga class stared with a seated meditation. I have been so pleased with the progress of meditation in this class and like to start the class by calming and focusing all the minds. We sat in a comfortable, seated position, with hands in our laps, palms up, one hand cradled inside the other. I started by asking the students to listen for the sounds around them and then to locate a place of silence in all the noise, so our minds could rest. We then turned our focus to our bodies, paid attention to how we felt, and let go of any tension (here I led them through a foot-to-head “heaviness” exercise. At the belly we stopped for a moment and felt our breath and at the overhead, I mentioned that should feel their brows were cool); our final focus went to the breath, first as something to hear and then as something to feel. I started the “Love Bubble” meditation: I suggested to them to “feel happy” to “feel love” to “feel good”. I asked them to think of someone they wanted to send some love to, this person could be alive or passed on, a parent, a grandparent, a sibling, a friend…anyone alive or not. While thinking of this person, we felt “happy”, “love”, and “good”. We then imagined a large pink bubble surrounding our loved one. We allowed this bubble to float up to the sky above us and then drift into the air, heading towards “our loved one”. As the bubble floated away, I had them once again find their silence, relax their bodies and breathe.

Today’s classes theme was: “things that fly” and “things in the sky”

For warm-up we started seated: Fly Like A Butterfly, arm flap, Wind-Releasing Pose (Pavanamuktasana) and Caterpillar (which is what I called spinal warm up today). Then standing, feet firmly planted, swing arms and torso side to side loosely for Helicopter.
In the sky, we saluted the sun (Suryanamaskar); Triangle pose (Trikonasana) led us to ½ Moon (Ardha Chandrasana); Airplane; Eagle (Garudasana); Squat led us to Crane (Bakasana); Final power pose, Rainbow or commonly known as Wheel or Upward Facing Bow Pose (Urdhva Danhurasana). I of course gave spots to all during Crane & Wheel.
Down we went for ½ Pigeon stretch.

Savasana: Lying down, completely still, hands by your side, palms open to feed the birds we had just conjured up, I brought back the “Love Bubble” and had them imagine it was now en-wrapping them. It was filling them with happiness, love and goodness. We felt ourselves float up to the sky and let the air currents gently move us around, and then imagined gently floating back to the ground, with a warm body and cool forehead.
Seated in Easy Pose, we did acapella version of “We’re The Rockin’ Yogis & Yoginis”.