Monday, May 24, 2010

Flamenco is sweet and sticky and hot and spicy like dried mangos covered in red hot chili peppers

Today’s private lesson with Maya was so enriching. I am deeply intrigued by her singing in Spanish, although she does not really speak the language. Her family speaks Spanish around her and she picks up words and some meanings, and then she strings them together without any apparent reason to accompany herself as she dances flamenco. This is such a deep personal expression that I am put in awe at the extent of her inner being. She reaches into her core to find this and shares it with me. She finds peace in our world.

I sometimes have Anthony play the piano for her and they make a beautiful duet, both so dedicated to their expression. Maya is like a smoldering fire. She is the glowing remains of a raging fire that licks at the air and crackles with internal energy. Anthony is so cool he is hot. Like ice that burns. His cool air passes through Maya and her heat crackles louder. Together they are so moving.

I worked with Maya today on the concept of being light in the arm pits, to use the inner armpit muscles to lift the arms, rather than the arm itself. You need to open your chest from right in the middle of the rib cage (like a lobster being cracked open), lift the side rib muscles, lift the armpit muscles and at the same time open your outer shoulder blades while at the same time there is a subtle pulling in between the two inner shoulder blades.

From yoga to flamenco the two art forms merge.

Ole Namaste!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Teaching yoga to kids on the PDD-NOS Spectrum:

I have something I love to do. Teach yoga to kids. All kids! Both typical and non-typical kids alike, although those “monikers” seem so irrelevant because all kids are typical and non typical. I love working with kids. The students in Ms. Sand’s room are the older kids on the autism spectrum. This was my third class with them and I can feel we are developing a foundation of collective trust and friendship. I continue to introduce some of the basic Yoga poses and breathing exercises that will help to bring these children out of their shells and into the group interaction of the yoga class. The students are becoming familiar with these introductory poses, and I am progressively adding more poses to our routine, as well as slightly longer deep relaxation section at the end of class. This combination of poses, breathing and deep relaxation will help to strengthen their nervous systems, increase overall health and facilitate the development of their body awareness and concentration. Yoga therapy helps children with autism gain new motor, communication and social skills. Aside from physical benefits of yoga, these children can also experience improvements in mental and emotional health. It has been shown that yoga can have a massive calming effect on children who practice it, calming negative excitable behavior. Yoga can also help children to develop a stronger memory, will power, higher levels of concentration and improved respiration. The end result is an overall improvement in their quality of life.

Today's Yoga-Snack:

Warm Up:
1.      3 large belly breaths (holding the belly to feel it fill on the inhale and release on the exhale)
2.       3 "Hun" breaths (like the word honey, without the “ey”, which provokes a resonance in the nasal cavity) breathe in, hands over ears, breath out saying “hunnnnnn”). Covering the ears helps to block out external sounds and the reverberations are very calming.
3.      Seated Side Stretch
4.      Washing Machine: Hands on shoulders, elbows lifted, twist side-to-side saying “whish- whish”
5.      Dryer: Forearms bent in front, held parallel to each other, circle them around each other, first in one direction and then the other
6.      Butterfly
7.      Table Top: Cat (breath in, curl spine and try to look at belly button) and Cows (breathe out curl spine down and pick chest up)
8.      Also in table top: Balance on 3 legs (first right arm up, then try left, then try right leg, then try left). Then 2 leg balance: Right arm up and left leg; left arm up and right leg.
9.      Tree Pose: both sides

Flow Sequence:
1.      Mountain Pose, hands at heart center
2.      High Mountain
3.      Fold in half and touch floor
4.      Plank Pose
5.      Cobra
6.      Downward Facing Dog Pose
7.      Dog to Lunge
8.      Feet together, fold in half
9.      Rise up to high mountain
10.  Mountain with hands at heart center

Cool Down:
1.      Child’s Pose
2.      Simple Lying twist: Lying in constructive rest, drop knees to one side, back stays on the floor, 3 relaxing breaths; Repeat other side
3.      Savasana


Yoga Snack: Let it flow, let yourself go.

Teaching yoga to kids: 

I have something I love to do. Teach yoga to kids. All kids! Both typical and non-typical kids alike. Although those “monikers” seem so irrelevant because all kids are typical and non-typical. I love working with kids. They are noisy and silly and try so hard to get it. They stretch their imaginations and I love their energy when they get a pose they have been trying so hard to get. True, sometimes I have to reign in their exuberance, but only a little, just to bring focus back to the class.

Today’s Yoga-Snack was delicious! I really challenged them and with bubbling energy, we experienced yoga together.

After a few warm ups on the floor:
1. 3 big belly breaths (with hands on tummies to feel the filling and release of belly)
2. 3 “Hun” breaths (like the word honey, without the “ey”, which provokes a resonance in the nasal cavity) breath in, hands over ears, breath out saying “hunnnnnn”)
3. Grind the coffee (sitting in easy pose, pretend to have a coffee bean under each butt cheek, hold knees, and make body circles while grinding the coffee beans in to the floor)
4. Easy seated side stretch (keep the coffee beans on the floor-in other words, stay seated)
5. Lean over crossed legs and lower body as close to floor as possible (repeat with opposite leg crossed in front)
6. Butterfly with song

Standing Sequence:
1. Mountain pose, press toes and heels into ground, like roots of a tree.
2. High Mountain
3. Tree-to-Dancer-to-Tree (repeat opposite side)

Flow Sequence:
1. Star Pose
2. Warrior I
3. Warrior II
4. Dancing Warrior
5. Side Angle Pose
6. Half Moon
7. Warrior II
8. Jump feet together-repeat other side
9. End second side with Child’s Pose
10. Reverse Table Top
11. Wheel

Cool Down:
1. Lying in constructive rest: Drop knees to one side, back stays on the floor, 3 relaxing breaths; Repeat other side
2. Savasana


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Stillness + Focus + Breath= Yoga

The perfect formula for a great yoga practice is:

Stillness of the body + Focus of the mind + Breathing = Great Yoga!

Today's Yoga Snack started with Bumble Bee Breath and a 2 minute still and silent meditation. From there we went through the book "My Daddy Is A Pretzel" by Baron Baptiste. This a great book with some very basic poses for a good yoga practice. Each pose is explained carefully with words and pictures. I like the fact that they have a mom who is a Marine Biologist and a Step Dad who is a pilot. The names for the kids are unique such as Emmie and Malachi, indicating many different races. This is a great book for any yoga library and is a great way to approach yoga in your home with your children. They can lead you!

There are links below if you would like to purchase this book or the accompanying yoga cards from Amazon.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Ms. Sand's Clasroom Yoga Day One

Today I had the awesome opportunity to work in Ms. Sands Special Ed. Classroom. I worked with 5 students and a number of aides and Ms. Sands. Everyone was so receptive to my yoga class and I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.

I started class by asking the students to tell me what they thought yoga was. They all agreed that yoga was exercise. I added that along with yoga being energizing, that it also had the ability to calm you down. I said in yoga it is important to breathe because life is breath and that proves that yoga and life go hand-in-hand. I explained that in yoga it is very important to keep a still body to allow us to focus our minds.

We started today’s practice by doing Belly Breathing while sitting in easy pose. For Belly Breathing, when you inhale through your nose, you fill your bellies up round and when you exhale through your nose (although sometimes the first few breaths do need to be exhaled through the mouth); you let your belly go flat. Three large belly breaths and the focusing began. I also had them do “Bumble Bee Breath”, which is where you breath in though your nose and then covering your ears with your hands, hum as you exhale through your nose. This is especially effect for blocking out too much external disruption because when your ears are covered and you are humming, that is all you hear and is very calming.

Onto hands and knees for table top, hands below shoulders and knees below hips, where we did Cat and Cow’s. Inhale and round your belly up and look at your belly button as you inhale, curve you spine down and pull your shoulders back as you exhale for Cow.

Curl toes under and press up into Downward Facing Dog Pose on a good exhale. We picked up one leg and then one arm at a time for different variations of 3-Legged Dog.

Curling back into Child’s Pose, we took three calming breaths.

Standing now in Mountain Pose, we raised our arms above our heads and looked up at our hands and then slowly curled down to touch the floor in Standing Forward Bend. We let our heads hang heavy and nodded and shook them to release any tension.

Standing upright again, we took Chair Pose, which is a very powerful pose and uses a lot of leg and abdominal strength. Arms up, we tried to make out bodies look like lightning bolts. And then with an exhale, we relaxed again into Standing Forward Bend.

Putting our right foot forward, bending the knee to as close to a 90 degree angle as possible, arms above head, Warrior I Pose; hands to heart center, open arms wide (facing sideways) Warrior II Pose. Repeat on left side.

Lying on our stomachs had and elbows on the floor by our chest, we pressed up into Sphinx Pose, which are a chest opener and a back bend.

Seated now with our legs in front of us, Seated Forward Bend and then one leg extended at a time (with the other leg bent into the straight leg to create a triangle), Seated One- Legged Forward Bend. This pose mimics the standing pose we did next of Tree Pose, as they got to visually see how there leg would be bent while standing.

We then stood for Tree Pose and with great stillness of body and concentration on a fixed spot across the room; we balanced on first one leg and then the other.

The final pose is Savasana (Corpse Pose) which I said was the most difficult yet the most rewarding pose in yoga. We lay on our backs, with our arms resting by our sides, palms up. We let our bodies completely relax for 3 minutes to reap the benefits of our yoga practice and to allow for stillness of mind body and soul.

Wiggling fingers. Rubbing palms together and placing our warm hands over our closed eyes, we opened our eyes to allow the light in slowly. Then curling up on the right side for a moment, we took a comfortable seated position. Hands at heart center to compete our own circle of energy, we said Namaste (The light inside of me shines to the light inside of you) to end our yoga practice.


Monday, May 3, 2010

New After School Class

Welcome to my new After School group-13 big this session! What a wonderful feeling to see so many smiling faces, some old some new, all eager to explore yoga! I am truly a lucky person!

Today started with me receiving a beautiful namaste necklace made for me by a student and her mom and then a yoga love letter from another student-the envelope repeatedly says I love yoga! And inside were a colorful paper mini-yoga mat, a class list and a note telling me how she shared the yoga experience with her sister-who by the way is now taking the yoga class too.

I am blessed for sure. I am on the road to eternal happiness!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Review: RapAtaPtaP & All That April 30, 2010

RapAtaPtaP is Eve Agush and Patrice Monahan, two tap dancers who met at The Leon Collins Tap Dancers’ Paradise. After having established their roots in tap dance and jazz, Patrice infuses their choreography with her progressive percussive background and Eve embellishes it with flamenco. Together they bring to life a unique multi-cultural experience.

Eve Agush and Patrice Monahan opened with "Cheek to Cheek" and demonstrated their respective talents in flamenco and tap, which led into the Brazilian-flavored "Black Orpheus" by the band.

"Flamboyance, an original Bulerias choreography by Eve Agush and Patrice Monahan was next, I especially liked this number which incorporated contra compas and tap. Then came the standard latin jazz song "Besame Mucho" danced by Eve Agush and Patrice Monahan again employing a combination of the tap/flamenco arts.

In "La Fiesta" the Band composed of Miki Matsuki on Percussion, Rick Stone on Sax (he was AMAZING!!!) Charlotte Dumonton Bass and Karen Quatromoni on Guitar allowed each member of the band to shine.

In "Agua De Beber" Eve employed many traditional upper body flamenco moves with tap and taconeo - her style is very modern and dynamic - exciting to watch!

In the student recital segment, Dancers Aileen Oliva and Corrina Roche Cross danced an Alegrias choreographed by Eve Agush, Ms. Cross is very good - I think we'll see much more of her in the future - she has passion, form, and the rhythm so essential to the art form. Next came a delightful Sevillanas with Aileen Oliva, August Ramos, and Corrina Roche Cross.

The Tap segment started out with "Roustabout" another original choreography by Eve with dancers Priya Gajjar and Sofia Kaufman and a delightful dance with swiffers called "I Am NOT Your Broom!".

The performance returned with "Flamenco Soul" with music by Lionel Hampton followed… this was also an original Choreography by Eve Agush and Patrice Monahan. More Jazz ensued with an original composition by Patrice Monahan on piano accompanied by the the band called "Limbo". Then the two dancers came back together for "Pennsylvania Seis Cinco Mille" a Kansas City Rhythm (Tap n' Tray) swing number with lots of attitude. The show concluded with "Black Orpheus Reprise" a farewell from the band.

Good work Eve - keep it up! we look forward to more.