Friday, March 23, 2012

Yoga-Snack at Baldwin School, Cambridge, MA Grades 1 & 2

It was my second day at the Baldwin, and both classes, although based on the same principles, took on such different characteristics. Grade 2, my first class, was loud, energetic and full of laughter, while Grade 1, the second class, was quiet, focused and full of smiles (this mainly happened because we had a MCAs testing right next door and we had to tone it down).

But both classes were so fulfilling and joyful!

The basic layout for the day:
Started by playing Pather Panchali by Ravi Shankar, which comes from a movie of the same name. If you have never seen it, you should. It is one of the greatest Indian films ever made and is one of my favorite movies of all time.  I shared seeing it with my mom on many occasions-and I cried every time! 

I created a flow using the music in the background and it was both calming and energizing. We flowed through sun salutations, floor work, standing poses and times of stillness and silence, using child's pose as our home base. Child's pose is a great pose to bring the energy down, find a time to snuggle deep inside yourself, slow down your breathing and relax muscles that have just been used.

I asked the kids if they knew what meditation was:
1. Calms your mind
2. Sitting still and relaxing
3. Floating (um,no, that is called levitation)!
4. Thinking of only one thing so it quiets all the other chatter in your brain (Wow! That was a good answer...How did you know that?...You told us last week!)

Today I taught the "Sa Ta Na Ma" meditation. The ancient yogis believed there were 5 sounds in the universe "s", "t", "n", "m" and "a"-so combined they make the chant "Sa Ta Na Ma". With "Sa" press the pinky and thumb tips together simultaneously on both hands; With "Ta" press the ring finger and thumb tips together simultaneously on both hands; With "Na" press the middle finger/tall man and thumb tips together simultaneously on both hands; With "Ma" press the pointer finger and thumb tips together simultaneously on both hands. For the chant, I have the kids say it out loud 4-8 times, in whisper 4-8 times, in head (still with finger movements) 4-8 times, in whisper repeat and out loud repeat and end with a full breath in arms rising above the head and a full breath out, hands to heart center.

I also used the book "My Daddy Is A Pretzel" by Baron Baptiste. I wanted the classrooms to know about the book because it is a fun book for kids to self initiate yoga poses. We read the story and did the poses in the book (We especially stopped on bridge pose and spent a long time creating the pose. I went by each child and placed my finger in their upper back to help them locate the area to lift from-some children who I felt would understand, I also told them to lift at their sternum, but I did  this by touching the area and having them lift. The biggest difficulty was having them keep their shoulders on the ground). I also decided to forgo plow pose as we are doing these classes on hard linoleum floors and I really did not feel it was a safe pose for the kids. I explained how the neck could be in jeopardy in this pose and then we moved on. I opened up the floor for kids to offer up poses that were some how related to their parent's funny one was: "hand cuff pose" which was kind of like bridge with your hands encased by your feet below your body, for a father who works in the courts; and then I said if my son was here, he would choose Dancer's Pose because his mom is a dancer.

In grade two, we danced to Happy Jio, which is moving meditation I learned from the wonderful, radiant Shakta Kaur Khlasa. You can buy the song from the Radiant Child Music CD Happy.  

For final relaxation, I led the kids through a rainbow mediation that I adapted from a Buddhist Meditation for children:

This meditation guides children to discover their innate virtues and potentials.
First lay back and allow your palms to rest by your sides, with the palms facing to the ceiling and let your legs be gently spread and allow your feet to flop to the sides. Allow you body to relax and let the energy flow freely. Allow your yoga to sink into your body. Notice that you are breathing, gently in and out, with your belly rising and falling with each inhale and exhale.

Feel your body becoming lighter and lighter. See all the colors of the rainbow. Feel your body becoming all of the colors of the rainbow.

Feel the color red. Your whole body becomes the color red. Feel yourself giving out energy and strength. You are now full of energy and strength.
Feel the orange color. Your whole body becomes the color orange. Feel yourself giving out happiness and joy. You are now full of happiness and joy.
Feel the color yellow. Your whole body becomes the color yellow. Feel yourself giving out intelligence. You are now full of intelligence.
Feel the color green. Your whole body becomes the color green. Feel yourself giving out harmony and friendship. You are now full of harmony and friendship.
Feel the color blue. Your whole body becomes the color blue. Feel yourself giving out peace. You are now full of peace.
Feel the color indigo. Your whole body becomes the color indigo. Feel yourself giving out gentleness. You are now full of gentleness.
Feel the color violet. Your whole body becomes the color violet. Feel yourself giving out beauty and self-respect. You are now full of beauty and self-respect.
You are the rainbow; your colors are going out everywhere. Feel yourself getting bigger and bigger, your colors going out further and further, until they cover up this whole room, then further until they cover the whole school, the city of Cambridge, the state of Massachusetts, the whole United States, and still further until they cover the whole world. As you spread out all the colors, you are also spreading out energy, happiness, intelligence, friendship, peace, gentleness and beauty. You spread out even further and become even bigger. Now your colors of light are spreading throughout the whole universe. You are as big as the whole universe; your light shines out in every direction in space.
Slowly, all the colors change into a stream of white light. This white light is now flowing down the top of your head down to your heart. Feel all the white light going into your heart. Feel the color and light and energy and grace fill every cell in your body.
Then I sit quietly and allow rest to happen for about 5 minutes.
Wiggling fingers and toes; rubbing hands together, placing warm palms on closed eyes and opening then inside the closed hands and allowing the light to enter slowly; curling up on the right side of the body; coming to an easy seated position; hands to heart center “Have a wonderful rest of your day; Namaste!”

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Flamenco Residency at Escuela Amigos School Day Two

Day Two and the students were very excited to see me-chattering about my beautiful shoes and saying hello to me as they finished their activity.

I started again by putting on my shoes and skirt and realizing that ritual is very good with young children. They like to see the transformation. They had immediately sat in their assigned spots and were waiting eagerly for me to being. I turned on my flamenco music-one of my favorite CD's Cai by Son de la Frontera, and used it as background music. I had brought an excellent catalogue and shared pictures of flamenco costumes, bata de cola, men's and women's flamenco shoes, earrings, fans, shawls and even young children dressed in Sevillana finery. I also brought a beautiful photography book by Carols Saura Flamenco and shared pictures of dancers, singers ad musicians.

After, we got up and went to tables to make fans. First the kids drew pictures on the front and backs of their paper and then carefully folded them into fans. We then went to the dance area and danced to flamenco rumbas with the fans and then without.

We danced and said our flamenco poem and then as a special treat, my student, Giselle, who has danced flamenco with me for 3 years, came and joined the class and we performed our Garrotin for the class! They gave us palmas and cheered ¡Olé! and ended with shouts of ¡Encore!

We ended the class with more rumbas dancing and then a simple sit and stretch! Next class, parent will come and we will present for them!

¡Olé! ¡ Namaste!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Dance Residency at Escuela Amigos School

Through the wonderful program, Dance In The Schools, set during March, which is dance month, in Cambridge MA, I have the pleasure of a three day flamenco residency at Esculela Amigos School. I am working with the junior Kindergarten (JK Stars). Elika Frederikson is the teacher and she has a delightful class  of  avid learners.

Day One: Arrived in the classroom and changed into my dance shoes and skirt. All the children loved my shoes...I kind of felt like Mr. Rogers getting ready for the day. Read the story "Lola's Fandango" by Anna Witte with illustrations by Mischa Archer and had the kids follow me in the counting, the clapping, the stamping,  moving arms and repeating the Spanish words. After that we stood up and I played flamenco rumbas and had the children do the "follow-me" dance steps such as stamping, clapping, moving the arms, playing with fast and slow beast, shouting ¡olé!. One little boy, Sophocles (yes that is his name-awesome!) pointed out that he noticed I changed to a new step at the end of each crescendo (llamada). What a great ear! We even played the game "I Go, You Go" where I do a clapping, footwork or movement sequence and then they copy me.

Everyone was pretty tired after that, so we came back down to the floor and did some yoga poses to relax and get our breath back.

I then wrote up on a large piece of paper the poem by my friend Miguel de Victoria:

Se coje la manzana...
Pull the apple (Reach up high and twist the apple off the tree)
Se muerde la manzana...
Bite the apple (The apple passes by the mouth and we bite it)
Se tira la manzana...
Throw the apple (Throw the apple to the ground)
Se pisa la manzana....
Stamp on the apple (Stomp on the apple)

The students then created a special area for me to perform in and I encouraged them to give me palmas and shout ¡Olé! I danced all four Sevillanas with castanets and they became true aficionados!

¡Olé! ¡Namaste!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

It's Your Move Dance Contest/ NEW SUBMISSION END DATE: April 6th

To celebrate the launch of the Ideology clothing line, Macy’s is hosting the It’s Your Move Dance Contest on Facebook! If you’ve got the right moves, share a video on our Facebook tab and you could score a VIP trip to LA to meet dance pro Cheryl Burke and take home a $1,000 Ideology shopping spree!

Here's a link to the Contest tab on Macy's timeline:

Here's a rundown of how it works:
1. Select a pre-recorded music track from the Facebook tab. You must one of the approved songs or your submission will not be considered.
2. Choreograph and record a dance to the track you’ve selected, keeping your video under 2 minutes in length. Your dance can be performed individually or with a partner. 
3. Upload your video on the Facebook tab at Macy’s Facebook page.

And here's a little more on the Ideology collection:

For Spring 2012, Ideology offers an energizing color palette of hot pink, lime green, and rich magenta across clothes designed for the woman who wants to sweat, stretch, or just relax. Standout pieces include the Hourglass Tank, specially constructed to provide a flattering hourglass shape; Full-Length Pants, ideal for yoga, made with 4-way stretch for easy movement; a Seamless Sports Bra with wicking and antimicrobial protection; a sleek, water-resistant Cinched Waist Parka with a drawstring hood and contrast-color zippers, and a chic Dolman Sleeve Topper to throw on after the gym. The collection of jackets, sweatshirts, tops, bras, pants, shorts, and accessories ranges from $7.98 to $58. For a full view of the the Ideology collection, visit

Sunday, March 4, 2012

March Special Events for Eve Agush: Flamenco and Yoga

1. Johara and Snake Dance Theater present: Into the Fire

A Passionate Evening of Middle Eastern and Belly Dance Fusion, along with Flamenco, Salsa, and Brazilian Capoeira Featuring new choreography by Johara & Snake Dance Theater Company 
Special Guests: Za-Beth, Ahlan Selene Dance Company, Axcent Dance Company, Eve Agush with Roberto Rios on guitar and singer Yvonne Lalira, Salsa Y Control, Capoeira Brasil Boston Academy, Naraya, Lady Snake, the Middle Eastern Drum Ensemble, and more!

A Fundraiser for Maiti Nepal and its founder, CNN Hero 2010 Anuradha Koirala, in their fight against Human trafficking in Nepal and India. To learn more about Maiti Nepal, visit

Sunday, March 11, 2012  7-9pm
YMCA Theater
820 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA
$20 General Admission/$25 Priority Seating in Advance
Tickets at the door: $25 /$30  ($15 for children under 10)
Information: 617-780-8890

2. A Day of Spirit, A Life of Healing
Sat., March 24
10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Edwards Church
39 Edwards Street, Framingham
Join us for a gentle day of healing and spiritual nourishment, with opportunities to experience reiki and other healing  practices, and explore yoga, Qi Gong, meditation, art, chant, and more.

Eve will be presenting a short flamenco demonstration at 1:45PM and then will teach yoga at 2:15-3:15.

$12 cost includes a light vegan lunch.
Ca/ 508-877-2050 or email  to register

Friday, March 2, 2012

Think Yoga

Think Yoga

My yoga practice originated with the intention to strengthen my own mind-body connection. Through it, I have become a conscious observer of how the body teaches the mind and how the mind teaches the body and how the two are forever intertwined; each entity mutually benefiting from the other’s wisdom. I have learned to tap into self awareness though breath, meditation and movement and I have learned to let the restlessness of my mind, my self-awareness, be stilled and in the quiet moments of meditation and deep relaxation, I have found the treasures of joy and fulfillment within myself.  

I noticed that my son was naturally drawn to my practice. Anthony rises each day like a lotus blossom. I love the times when he spontaneously begins an asana practice. He performs a natural and joyful flow, moving from Downward Facing Dog (with a few woofs and wags) to Cobra (slithering across the floor hissing). Then Triangle to Half-Moon to Side Plank….and the new challenge: Headstand, then laying back and flipping up into Candle and Plow and finishing with his favorite pose, Crane! Anthony benefits from my yoga practice by both attending the classes I teach and being surrounded by it at home. He is a willing participant in my classes, enthusiastically inviting his friends to join in the fun of yoga. He enjoys the process in yoga that provides within him the opportunity to release his pent up emotions through a mindful and expressive process.

One day, as he started to lose his temper, I told him to sit down and take a few breaths and he said to me, “Mom, everything is not about yoga.” Yet he knows that if he controls his breathing, he will relax. He has come to equate calm breathing with yoga, so the seed is planted. I know that he was born embodying the yoga precepts and that by cultivating yoga around him, he will always be enlightened from his experiences, reaching from deep within to welcome each day. Yoga has taught Anthony to be content with his surroundings and he exhibits this state of contentment by being compassionate, kind and confident. We teach him to address his own consciousness and he knows to support peoples’ differences. If a situation provokes him, he knows that by changing his attitude he will overcome his feelings of anger and become more at peace with the situation.

In the moments at the end of each day, Anthony and I take time to see that life is joyful. We are thankful for our time together, for the dawning of each new day, and most importantly we are thankful for being ourselves. Yoga has empowered us with a safe haven that can be tapped into deep inside ourselves where we can find fulfillment.
Eve Agush has been teaching flamenco , tap and yoga in the Boston community for the past eighteen years and  specializes  in teaching  children of all abilities. Ms. Agush is a familiar face on the Boston dance scene, contributing her considerable experience to events such as Dance Across the City Day, The Children’s Dance Festival, City Dance ,Dance in the Schools Program, and Day of Healing @ Edwards Church. Eve Agush is the founder and Artistic Director of the AdamAnt Eve Dancers, a rhythmic dance troupe performing flamenco and traditional jazz tap. Eve is Radiant Child Yoga Levels 1 & 2 certified,  a Baptiste Power Yoga Assistant Level 1, Core Yoga:I School Yoga Certified, and Warriors at Ease Level 1 Certified and teaches a free yoga class for Veteran's @ Edwards, Church Framingham, MA. She is currently enrolled  in the 500 hour In Depth Studies and the Art of Teaching Program taught by Barbara Benagh.

A dialogue between music and poetry

This looks amazing!

Rosa Torres-Pardo piano RocÍo MÁrqueZ soloist
A dialogue between music and poetry

Goyescas, E. Granados
Lorquiana, Federico García Lorca, M. de Falla, I. Albéniz
El Amor Brujo, M. de Falla
Songs and Poems by José Manuel Caballero Bonald and Federico García Lorca
“Suite Española” is a compelling exchange between a world renowned classical
pianist and a new and talented flamenco voice. Through a mix of interpretation
and composed music, it searches for a contact point, exploring both flamenco
and classical styles, looking for artistic origins while representing compositions
by Granados, Falla, and Albéniz. “Suite Española” is a unique exchange which
pushes the boundaries of genre.
Monda y, March 5, 2012
Tsai Performance Center
685 Commonwealth Avenue

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Joy in "Defeet"...or Tale of Two Feeties...or "I Got Two Feet, One Two, They Smell So Neat"

Taking a jump from Tristen Wilson's Rainbow Yoga lesson plan called "Happy Feet", this weeks Yoga-Snack revolved around the feet. I had the extreme pleasure of bringing the Yoga-Snacks program back to the Baldwin School, Cambridge, MA earlier this week and then I will be in Ms. Forzaglia's 4th grade classroom  at Brown Elementary, Natick, MA tomorrow.
I started class today with a simple centering exercise. We all sat in a circle, legs crossed, with our knees touching on both sides the person's knees sitting next to us. The circle was nice and close and personal. First we placed our right hand over our own heart and quietly listened and felt our own heart beating. Then we gently placed our left hand on the back of the person sitting to our left just behind the heart and settled in again to listen and see if we could connect with the heart beat of our neighbor.

                                    I found a funny kid's poem about the feet by Kenn Nesbitt: 
                                                                    My Feet
                                                                 My feet, my feet,
                                                                 I love my feet.
                                                                 I think they're great,
                                                                 I think they're neat.
                                                                 They're pretty, pink,
                                                                 and picturesque.
                                                                 They look so perfect
                                                                 on my desk.
                                                                 sad to tell,
                                                                 they also have
                                                                 a funny smell.
                                                                 So though I'm fast,
                                                                 and though I'm fleet,
                                                                 and though at sports
                                                                 I can't be beat,
                                                                 no team will pick
                                                                 me to compete,
                                                                 because they always
                                                                 smell defeat.

                                                                               This poem appears in the book
                                                                        The Aliens Have Landed at Our School!

How cool are our feet??? Take a look down right now and check out your feet? Here are some interesting foot facts...
*     A human foot & ankle is a strong, mechanical structure that contain 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than 100 muscles, tendons & ligaments. Without all those hard working arts, we would just be a sac of bones!
*   The 52 bones in both of your feet make up one quarter of all the bones in your body (206). Just imagine how much work those two feet do all day...carrying you! What if we were born without feet? We'd be walking on our hands and knees for sure!
*   There are approximately 250,000 sweat glands in a pair of feet, and they excrete as much as half a pint of moisture each day. Ewwwwwwww!!!! No wonder our feet are so stinky!

We took child's pose to start us off, increasing the flexibility in our hips, offering a  therapeutic stretch for our lower backs, allowing the natural "c" curve into the spine, calming our energy and allowing us a moment to regroup. Life can be so frenetic sometimes, a simple child's pose can be your yoga all in one pose!

Seated in bound angle pose (soles of feet together): feel your toes pressing into each other, feel the balls of your feet pressing into each other, feel your heels pressing into each other-can you feel all three parts at the same time? What about your arches?

Standing again we lifted and lowered our toes. Closed our eyes to see if we could balance, also noticing the natural rocking motion that occurs when the eyes are closed ans your body shifts between the two feet. We looked to the right, gently stretching our necks, then took the right hand and placed it on the neck/shoulder area of the left side and gave ourselves a little massage-then repeated on opposite side. Then a little all over body thumping, making a bit of a cup shape with our hands and moving up from foot to head and finally a good Tarzan style thumping on the chest (thymus thump) (with a few yodels too!)-great to pump up our life energy force!

A modified Sun Salutation: Mountain pose, reach up tot he sky, reach down to the ground, Step into a high plank, lower to the floor, press up to a cobra and rise and lower as you snake your back up and down, hissing, curl toes under and press up to downward facing dog pose, bring feet  close together, lift right leg up behind and bark Lower and repeat with left. Look forward to hands and jump feet to hands. 

Tree pose: a great foot and ankle strengthener. And as a balancing pose a great tool to focus the attention inside. 

3 part warrior sequence:
Jump out to star pose
Turn right foot out and then turn left foot in a  little towards the right so you can easily face the right foot. Bend and straighten your right knee a few times-try to get it to a 90 degree angle with the floor-keep back leg straight.
Next time, keep knee bent and lift arms to sky "I am brave" (Warrior I)
Open arms wide, turn body so back foot faces side, right leg stays bent, facing front) "I am bold" (Warrior II)
Cast off so left leg lifts behind and you are facing floor with head to tip of left foot in a  straight line, balancing on right foot "My own power I can hold"
 (Warrior III)
Foot down, jump together, hands to heart center, breath in and exhale.

For dances: Grade two did "Happy Jio" which got rousing cheers of "Again!" at the end; first grade did "Yogini Went  To Sea" which is an all time favorite.

For meditations: My version of "I Am Happy, I Am Good"

Guided Meditation into savasanaChildren lie on backs, arms out, eyes closed.  Paying attention to our breath as it goes in through the nose and our bellies rise and out through our noses as our bellies descend. Our breathing comes in and out like waves on the ocean, very relaxed, very peaceful. For several breaths, just notice the rise and fall of your belly.
  • As you breathe in and out, become aware of your whole body lying down. Imagine you are at the beach and the sand is supporting your body. You feel warm from below and warm from above as the warm sun shines on you. Feel all the areas of your body that are touching the sand; your heels, the backs of your legs, your bottom, your back, the back of your hands and arms, the back of your head. With each out-breath, feel yourself relax deeper and deeper into the sand, letting go of everything, letting go of worries, or fear, or thoughts about homework or things you have to do after school.
  • Breathing in, I feel my two feet. Breathing out, I completely relax all the muscles in my two feet. Breathing in, I feel lucky to have two good feet, breathing out, I smile to my two feet. My feet hands are so precious! Because of my feet I can run in the sand or kick a soccer ball.  With my two feet, I can stand tall like a mountain. I can ride a bicycle. I can walk to the store. I can ski or snowboard or skateboard too. I can climb a tree and jump up high. I can swim. My feet are mine, and I promise to take good care of them. I promise to rest my feet when they tell my they are tired or hurt. I will exercise them and stretch them like I learned how to today, so my feet will take good care of me too.
  • Now lying completely still, with palms facing up by your sides, Imagine you have some bird seed in your hands and if you lie completely still, maybe a small shore bird will fly over to you and eat the seed from your hands. As the kids settle here, I begin to encourage their stillness, calmly and I go to each child and tickle one palm as if a bird is eating the seed. Every child should receive this little reward even if you have to wait for the one second the fidgety child holds still, even if you have to gently assist a foot or hand to stillness. 
  • Then get children to quietly awaken...wiggling their toes, rolling ankles, flexing feet up and down. 
Curling up on one side like a baby for a moment and then coming to a seated position. 

Love, peace and happiness! Namaste!