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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Yoga, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 46
1. Read & Romp Roundup: Sept/Oct 2014

Welcome to the September/October Read & Romp Roundup! And since it's actually November, this post also gives me an opportunity to highlight one of my favorite online celebrations -- Picture Book Month! The Picture Book Month blog is full of posts from children's book authors and illustrators who have been sharing all month long why picture books are important to them. It's a very inspiring read, and one I am feeling thankful for this time of year!

Just in time for the cold weather, Darshana at Flowering Minds reviews the new picture book Flora and the Penguin -- the sequel to the popular Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle. Her post includes a delightful trailer for this lift-the-flap book about friendship, told through beautiful ice dancing scenes with the two main characters.

At Wild Things Yoga, Kathleen shares some yoga ideas to go with Manfish: A Story of  Jacque Cousteau by Jennifer Berne and Eric Puybaret. She uses the book to talk about the concept of Ahimsa (non-violence) and try out some fun yoga poses related to the sea!

At Mother Daughter & Son Book Reviews, Renee and her son highlight the new picture book Twelve Dancing Unicorns by Alissa Heyman and Justin Gerard -- a variation of Twelve Dancing Princesses but with unicorns instead! Renee says the book is "an absolutely enchanting tale weaving the themes of magic, love, and friendship" with artwork that is "among the best I've seen in picture books."

Book to Boogie is a monthly series of the Library as Incubator Project in which guest bloggers pair picture books with movement activities for story time. The September post was on Quick as a Cricket by Audrey and Don Wood. The October post was on Sometimes I Like to Curl Up in a Ball by Vicki Churchill and Charles Fuge.

Debbie at American Indians in Children's Literature features Girls Dance, Boys Fiddle by Carole Lindstrom and Kimberley McKay. The main character is a girl named Metisse who would rather play the fiddle than dance, even though most people in her community expect girls to dance. Metisse is part of an Aboriginal group known as the Métis people, who live in parts of Canada and the Northern United States. According to Debbie, you can find elements of Métis culture on every page! 

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2. Anti-Gravity Drills and Halloween in New Orleans

Month 4 of My Broken Leg
            For the past couple of weeks, I've been receiving treatment for my broken leg at the Southern Orthopedic Specialists in New Orleans. Although a friend recommended Tulane for physical therapy, the place where team members of the Saints are treated, the same institution that operated on my leg suggested that I stay within their network. Since my insurance covered the physical therapy treatment, I was happy to oblige.
Physical Therapist, Marsh, manipulates my foot.

            When I tell most people that I am undergoing physical therapy, they look at me with extreme pity, as if the doctors were water boarding me for days on end. I actually enjoy physical therapy, probably because I enjoy exercising in general. I spend most of my day in front of a computer and often feel the need to engage in some sort of exercise, preferably yoga. In fact, although I couldn't walk for the first three months of my accident, I was able to keep up my yoga practice in bed. Special thanks to my teacher, Julie Nail who emailed me non-weight bearing poses. She helped me remain, positive, strong, and flexible during those early months of infirmity and not being able to walk .

Julie Nail (photo by Lerina Winters)
            At the Southern Orthopedic Specialists (S.O.S.), I experienced a very fun type of weightless therapy, the Alter G, Anti-Gravity Treadmill. This doesn't mean I have the training to go for a spacewalk. However, walking in the bubble of air, allowed me to feel a type of weightlessness and I was able to improve my gait. With a neoprene pair of shorts, I zipped myself into the Alter G machine, while air filled the bottom of the cage with air, allowing me to eliminate much of my body weight. I felt like a baby being hoisted by the armpits as my legs re-learned how to walk. And then the fun part began, walking backwards in the Alter G treadmill.
The Alter G Anti-Gravity Treadmill

Clicking my heels for a speedier recovery
            I must admit, there are two things I highly dislike about physical therapy. After the stretches and exercises are done, the therapist manipulates your foot and uses a hands on approach to get a feel for how much your range of motion has improved. I could do without the pulling and twisting of my foot in ways that a broken ankle should not be moved. Each therapy session ended with an arctic blast of an ice cold pack wrapped around both of my feet for fifteen minutes. I don't even like ice in a glass of water, let alone, wrapped around my foot for what seems like hours. The therapists laughed at my pained facial expressions each time they applied the ice packs.

There's No Place Like Home

            One of the perks of physical therapy in New Orleans, during the month of October, meant I had the opportunity to participate in the city's Halloween Festivities. New Orleans is a spooky and haunted place on any given night, but the place to be on is Molly's bar in the French Quarter. The bar hosts a parade with a brass band, carriage riders, and marchers. The best part is anyone can join the parade.  Since I wanted to be in that number, I made sure to wear comfortable shoes. I glittered a pair of comfortable leather and transformed them into Ruby Slippers for my Dorothy costume. Thanks to the therapists at S.O.S. and my yoga teachers, I was ready to march, walk, and strut. 
In front of Molly's
Catching Throws from the Carriage Riders
Glittering Shoes is Fun

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3. Yoga as a Bridge for Serving a Cross Section of Your Library Population

Serving a diverse community can be difficult, especially when you are dealing with diversity across the physical, mental, and emotional spectrum. Often the social aspect of the library can be off putting for children, and parents of children with developmental disabilities. For children on the Autism spectrum, the child’s inability to regulate behavior can be problematic in a highly structured setting (such as a library program). Children with physical disabilities may feel that they are limited in how they can participate in library programs. But often the simplest programs can be the most effective and by offering a new or unique opportunity the library becomes a safe place to engage in something outside their preconceived limitations.

Do you have a pre-set program time for children with disabilities? Do you have a pre-set time for family programs? Consider a family program featuring beginner and child friendly yoga. No matter how you incorporate it, I encourage you to use yoga as a way to bring all your patrons together. If offers the opportunity for all children to interact in a safe social environment.

Children enjoy the same benefits of yoga as adults: increased body awareness, strength and flexibility, as well as stress relief and relaxation. Yoga encourages self-acceptance, compassion, kindness, and discipline. All of this while celebrating creative expression, individual differences, and their place in the community. All of these are extremely important in the life of a child dealing with developmental delays or physical restrictions. Anecdotal reports describe success in reducing obesity and discipline problems, decreasing anger and panic attacks, and enhancing concentration and academic performance. Health problems, such as headaches, stomachaches, constipation, back pain, and colds or sinus problems, are reportedly improved with a yoga practice. (1) A certified yoga instructor can lead and demonstrate proper technique and offer advice and tips. Activities in this program can include age-appropriate poses, breathing exercises, relaxation, and partner poses between parent and child. Even a child with physical limitations can participate in the regulated and guided breathing exercises that accompany yoga practice.

While the research on the effects of yoga in children is lengthy, a tertiary literature review only uncovered a few empirical studies on yoga and the disabled. But using the early literacy principle of “play” and its importance in early childhood development, if you use yoga as an inclusive game, the possibilities for reaching children expands.

A 2011 study published in the International Journal of Yoga examined the positive combined effect of inclusive games and yogic relaxation on selected domestic skills among physically challenged boys. (2)

Since 2001, in a north London hospital, Jo Manuel has been providing yoga therapy sessions for children with a variety of special needs, from autism to cerebral palsy. Manuel and her 12 colleagues see around 500 children per week, and while some children do have physical restrictions the simple act of rhythmic breathing can bring a sense of calm and relaxation to both the children and their caregivers. (3)

Consider adding these titles  in order to make your program reflective of your collection.


You are a Lion:and other fun yoga poses is a fun interactive title that invites children to pretend to be different animals as they do various child friendly poses.

(Image from Pipin Properties)






My Daddy is a Pretzel: yoga for parents and kids is a great story time title. With it’s whimsical look at yoga practice, it offers great introductions for adults and children.

(Image from Barefoot Books)







Sleepy Little Yoga is a wonderful title that introduces nine poses perfect for preparing your toddler for bedtime.

(Image from Macmillan)
1. White, Laura Santangelo. “Yoga for children.” Pediatric Nursing Sept.-Oct. 2009: 277+. Expanded Academic ASAP. Web. 16 Aug. 2014.
2. Duraisami, V., K. Jaiganesh, and S. Parthasarathy. “Combined effect of inclusive games and yogic relaxation on the selected domestic skills among physically challenged boys.” International Journal of Yoga 4.2 (2011): 100. Expanded Academic ASAP. Web. 16 Aug. 2014.
3. Cooper, Catherine. “A calming influence: a yoga centre helping children with special needs has been achieving some impressively positive results.” Nursing Standard 24.50 (2010): 24+. Expanded Academic ASAP. Web. 16 Aug. 2014.

Lesley Mason is a children’s librarian at the District of Columbia Public Library. She earned her Master’s Degree in Library Science from Clarion University. She specializes in Early Literacy and can be reached at lesley.mason@dc.gov

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4. An Interview with Author Marlena Zapf: Part II

I’m happy to re-introduce picture book author Marlena Zapf to you today. Last week Marlena talked with me about the writing and publication process for her debut picture book Underpants Dance. Today we’re going to focus our discussion on movement -- the movement in the book, Marlena’s background in dance, and how she uses yoga and movement for her author visits!

Welcome back, Marlena! I love how you left a lot of room for illustrations in Underpants Dance, especially when Lily is dancing in her room. “First she did this. Then she did this. Then she went round and round like this. Then she said, “TA-DA!” At these places in the book, were the illustrations by Lynne Avril what you envisioned, or a total surprise?

I feel so fortunate that Lynne agreed to illustrate Underpants Dance. She brings Lily’s spirit to life so perfectly. I believe that picture books are a dialogue between text and illustration, and so I deliberately left room for Lynne to do her thing. I only gave my editor a few notes about what I wanted (like the Toulouse-Lautrec in the museum scene) and trusted the rest. I was expecting Lynne to come up with new things, so I wasn’t incredibly surprised by the illustrations in general.

What did surprise me was that when I received the cover illustration of Lily, it looked strikingly like a dance photo of myself that had been taken that very same week. I will add that Lynne had NEVER seen a picture of me.

Your website also includes some other great photos of you either dancing or wearing that really cool tutu. Do you have a background in dance? 

I’ve always danced for fun, but I never studied dance until I was an adult. (My mother decided to save me from repeating her own unpleasant childhood experience with ballet by signing me up for Girl Scouts instead. I think I would have preferred dance class.) Perhaps it’s for this reason that people often tell me my dance has a childlike quality. I have fun, dance with abandon, and don’t care what anyone thinks of me.

As an adult, I’ve studied a bunch of different kinds of dance, and continue to take new classes when I can. I do something called contact improvisation, which is done with partners or groups, and plays consciously with the physics of gravity and momentum, as well as human connection — it’s a great metaphor for how we move through life and relationships. I’m also part of a community in New England that hosts what are sometimes called “barefoot” or “ecstatic” dances. Really what that means is you take off your shoes and dance however you want. For me, it’s a moving meditation.

School visits are such a big part of marketing picture books these days. How do you present your book to children, teachers, and school librarians? (A little birdie told me that it might involve movement.)

Lily’s story is really about self-expression, so I encourage kids to express themselves through activities that accompany the reading. And I don’t just stand there and tell the kids what to do. I engage with them. I’m certified to teach kids’ yoga and movement, so I use some of those techniques to help kids focus and then have fun with them after the reading.

If the children are sitting on the floor, I like to spread out colorful Yoga Dots, which I learned about from Rosemary Clough. You can buy them or make them out of old yoga mats. (Kids love to pick out their favorite color.) They serve a dual purpose. They give kids focus and a place to sit for the portion of the presentation for which they need to stay still(ish). Afterward, you can use them to play games in which the kids step, dance, jump, and move on or around the dots. This way, kids get their wiggles out, but the dots provide a focus that keeps things contained so that the “wild rumpus” doesn’t turn into utter mayhem. (Teachers are not fans of mayhem.)

Here’s a simple example. Set the dots around the space and play music or sing a song while kids move aroundthe dots. You might encourage them to move at a certain speed or with a specific movement. When the music or song stops, kids jump on a dot and assume their favorite shape or yoga pose. Repeat!

Wow. I didn’t realize you were certified to teach kids’ yoga and movement, too. You are very multi-talented! It’s been a pleasure learning more about Underpants Dance and how you incorporate yoga and movement into your author visits. Thank you, Marlena! 

In case you missed Part I of my interview with Marlena, you can check it out here. You can also learn more about Marlena on her website at www.marlenazapf.com!

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5. Read & Romp Roundup: May/June 2014

Welcome to the first bimonthly Read & Romp Roundup. Thanks to those of you who submitted posts this time around. I also happened to stumble across a few additional posts related to picture books and dance, so I've included those as well. Hope you enjoy the roundup!

Danielle at This Picture Book Life shares a post about the picture book Bonjour Camille, which will be released in August from Chronicle Books. Dressed in a tutu and a top hat, Camille is a little girl with a whole lot of things to do! Check out Danielle's post to learn more about these "things" and to see several bold and energetic illustrations from the book.

Atelierstorytime shares a blog post by Anna Forlati -- the illustrator of the Italian picture book Yoga Piccolo Piccolo. Translated as "Small Small Yoga," Yoga Piccolo Picollo may not be available in an English version, but the gorgeous illustrations in this blog post will speak to everyone!

At Maria's Movers, Maria explores the wordless picture book Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle, which won a Caldecott Honor in 2014. Read her post to see how she used the book in a workshop for 6-year-olds about creating new dances!

Maria was also featured in the June Book to Boogie post at the Library as Incubator Project, where she shared movement ideas to go with the picture book Here Are My Hands. A month earlier, the May Book to Boogie post featured movement ideas to go with the picture book SPLASH! by Ann Jonas.

At the Dirigible Plum, Elizabeth reviews the nonfiction picture book Dancing to Freedom: The True Story of Mao's Last Dancer. The book tells the story of Li Cunxin, who grew up in rural China and was selected as a boy to move to Beijing to train as a ballet dancer. Interestingly, the book is written by the dancer himself. The illustrations by Anne Spudvilas, some of which you can see in Elizabeth's post, help tell his emotional story.

And last but not least, Reading Today Online shares a fun interview with Connie Schofield-Morrison and Frank Morrison -- the husband-and-wife team who created the new picture book I Got the Rhythm. They actually interview each other about creating the book. You don't want to miss it!

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6. Carnival Time and Letting Go by Melinda Palacio

A family celebrates Mardi Gras Nola style on St. Charles Avenue

Call it a coincidence that Letting Go is the theme at the Wild Lotus Yoga Studio in New Orleans. When I’m in town, I benefit from blissful moments at Wild Lotus, although yesterday’s class left me slightly crippled (what I get for taking a vacation from exercise as well). During the crazy carnival season, ‘letting go’ is an important reminder. Simple errands, such as making groceries (as they say in New Orleans), can be impossible if you lose a good parking spot or are in a hurry to see the next parade.

I began the carnival season with the intention of forgoing the idea of experiencing carnival in Panama. My sister used last year’s dates for carnival when she booked our airline tickets, an easy mistake if you don’t celebrate Mardi Gras or Easter regularly. I told her that I would be spending Mardi Gras in New Orleans with friends and family. She assured me that Carnival in Panama was different than Carnival in New Orleans or Brazil or the rest of the world celebrating the Catholic festival. The calendar mix-up ensured we had a more authentic experience and enjoyable trip to the Panama. She didn’t realize that Mardi Gras and Easter are dependant on the ever wavering cycles of the moon. The festivities last for weeks on end, before Fat Tuesday and the ensuing fast for lent. However, New Orleans will certainly break the lent fasting shortly after Mardi Gras for the St. Patrick’s Day parade next weekend. Mardi Gras falls on Tuesday, March 8. Mardi Gras can occur as early as February 3 and as late as March 9. This year leaves very little wiggle room for the lent respite of the St. Patick’s Day and St. Joseph Day celebrations.

As someone who has experienced Mardi Gras for seven years, since before Hurricane Katrina, I know that the city’s people population seems to double in size. Dining at a favorite restaurant like Jacques-imo’s can be a challenge, sometimes impossible the weekend before Mardi Gras day. This year HBO has decided to make things on my block a little more interesting. The Episode Manager left a flyer on my doorstep, “Filming Night Parade, Muses, in Your Area.” The all-female krewe has been a favorite parade for over a decade. Add HBO to the mix and I must be homebound and parade bound for the evening. Although the letter assured us the cable show’s “footprint” would be small, I let go of the idea of accomplishing anything other than parading that evening with the cast and crew of Treme, my neighbors, and all the tourists from the North Shore crowding for a chance to catch some girly throws and plastic beads made in China. I had high hopes of going to yoga today, but I let go of that idea as well.

Next week, Mardi Gras gives way to lent and the St. Patrick's Day parades. I will be driving back to California. On Sunday, March 13, I join the Hitched: Writing in Political Oppression Poetry Series at Beyond Baroque, along with Sholeh Wolpe, Alicia Partnoy, Ramon Garcia, and Bilal Shaw, hosted by Xochitl-Julissa Bermeo at 4pm, 681 Venice Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

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7. A Star-Studded Recommendation

Actress Mariel Hemmingway recommends the highly successful book I illustrated, "The ABCs of Yoga for Kids". This book has now won 7 awards. I wonder if she'd like my autograph...?

Read more at Midwest Book Review.
Order your copy of The ABCs of Yoga for Kids.

4 Comments on A Star-Studded Recommendation, last added: 3/14/2011
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8. Rushing

I have always wanted to be one of those Zen-like relaxed people who nod and listen and never worry. This past summer, a woman I met was talking to me about yoga. I figured if I tried yoga, I would become more Zen-like and calm. Right? Isn't that how it works?

While she was showing me some of the positions, I was following what she did as fast as I could. Finally, in a softly, barely perceptible tone, she said, "Anne, you don't rush through yoga. You have to let things flow more."


So I did. I relaxed. Well, I thought I relaxed. I slowed down and tried to look sort of beatific and focused at the same time which is how she looked. (Go ahead - try to look that way; it's not as easy as it sounds) She finally said we should try it on a day when I wasn't quite so harried. 


Only I wasn't particularly harried on that day. That's kind of how I am. I tend to speak and move quickly, put on dinner while folding laundry, talking on the phone, and going through the mail. I have trouble driving at the speed limit. I never leave the house for only one errand: I average about four. I figure out my lesson plans while I'm grocery shopping, organize my paperwork while on the bank line, think about writing while doing dishes.

I think I'm just geared sort of twitchy, and the yoga woman is geared more gently. It's pretty much inbred. I couldn't imagine her saying to her kids, as I regularly do, "Salad or colon cancer?" "Sun block or melanoma?" or get texts back such as, "Mom, don't think I'm dead! I just had no service in the mall." No one in our house bats an eye at any of this. Then again, the yoga woman had no kids...

But I think, too, how we move, how we are geared has an effect on our writing. I don't think Emily Dickinson moved too fast - she noticed things like grasshoppers and that certain slant of light - whereas when I read Dr. Seuss, I would think from the pace of his writing that he would be a little more twitchy than most.

I'm revising a YA, yet again, and that's what I realized about it: it has a rushed quality that it can't have since it deals with a serious theme. Well, yeah, I was writing most of this late at night, and rushing, and it shows. But I put it away for a month and only noticed that during a fresh read when I was moving more slowly. 

I was contemplating how I would slow down the pace, how I would make the story unfold more easily while deleting all the spam from this blog. So in case you're wondering what happened to all the comments, I was rushing and accidentally deleted YOUR comments and not the spam. There's a lesson there. 

Still, I think I'm onto something. Rushing makes for thin, undeveloped writing. Maybe even if you're not geared to move quickly when you're writing and trying to finish, it will show. I'm wondering now if that's the essence of revision - slowing things down, having scenes and characters unfold more slowly?

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9. "The ABCs of Yoga for Kids" September coloring page

Here is a free coloring page from the book I illustrated for Teresa Ann Power, "The ABCs of Yoga for Kids".  In yoga, focus on breathing is very important.

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10. Read & Romp Roundup -- January 2012

Here, finally, is the Read & Romp Roundup for January 2012. I was thrilled with the response to my first call for submissions and think we have a great and diverse roundup here. Just what I was hoping for! We have picture books with themes of rhythm and dance, unique ideas for incorporating poetry and picture books into dance and yoga classes, and even a birthday celebration for a beloved author who writes about dance. Hope you enjoy the inaugural roundup!

Amy at Delightful Children's Books shares a list of 10 children's books that entertain, inform, inspire, and broaden children's understanding of dance. Amy also created a YouTube playlist to go along with her post, including performances by Fred Astaire, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, and more. 

Wait until you see what Eric from Happy Birthday Author did to celebrate author Katherine Holab

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11. Join the July Read & Romp Roundup!

Is it really the middle of July already? Time is flying by! I had so many ideas for posting this month, and I haven't gotten around to any of them yet! But... I at least can't let my monthly roundup pass by.

This is the official call for submissions for the July Read & Romp Roundup. If you have a recent (or even not so recent) blog post that involves picture books or children's poetry AND dance, yoga, or another form of movement, leave your link in a comment on this post.

Maybe you read a picture book about yoga that you'd like to share. Or maybe you read a poem that made your students want to get up and dance. All ideas are welcome! I'll round up all the links and post about them together in a few weeks. Can't wait to hear from you!

Submissions are open until Monday, July 30, 2012. 

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12. Learning to sing: lessons from a yogi voice teacher

By Laura Davis

You know that stress dream that everyone has at one time or another? The one where you’re standing up in front of a giant group of people and something goes horribly wrong? You forget your speech, your voice cracks, you’re not wearing pants. Well that dream became a recurring reality for me my senior year of college (not the pants part thankfully). Mine was the singer’s nightmare. The one where you open your mouth to sing and the voice that comes out is not your own.

As a child and an adolescent I loved to perform. Singing wasn’t something I thought about; it was something I just did and as a result I was totally fearless. When I got to college the concept of thinking about singing as a science was entirely new to me. My teachers taught me to release my jaw and tongue, to inhale into my back and belly, to use muscular antagonism of the inspiratory and expiratory muscles, to keep my larynx low and stable, to lift my palate, and many other mechanics of singing. At first this new focus on technique was interesting, but eventually all of the technical language resulted in confusion. Every time I opened my mouth to sing I was afraid I would do something wrong. The result was a voice that was only a shadow of the one I used to call my own.

What happens when we’re afraid? In his article “The Anatomy of Fear,” John A. Call discusses the body’s reaction to fear: the heart-rate speeds up, our muscles tense, and the breath becomes fast and shallow.

The implications of this for a singer are huge. In singing the first rule of the inhale is release low. When a singer releases and expands through the lower body (belly, low back, and intercostals), it allows these muscles to work in tandem on the exhale. This gives the singer the ability to manage the air much more efficiently than if he/she had begun by expanding through the chest and clavicles. If a person is experiencing fear, the ability to take a low and relaxed or released breath becomes quite difficult.

Certainly singers need to learn proper singing technique, but sometimes I wonder, what is all of this focus on the physical costing us as artists? There was a time in my life when I operated solely on musical intuition. But as I learned more and more about the mechanics of singing I began attempting to operate on facts and science instead of artistic impulse. I don’t mean to suggest that I didn’t need to learn the mechanics—I had plenty of technical issues. But perhaps there is a more holistic approach to teaching singing that could  facilitate proper technique without the loss of instinct.

After I graduated from college I took some time off from singing. When I decided to return to it I knew I needed a different approach. I had been practicing yoga as a form of exercise for a few years, but I felt confident that with the right guidance it could really help me as a singer. So I sought out a voice/yoga teacher.

yoga 1

Yoga session at sunrise in Joshua Tree National Park – Warrior I pose. Photo by Jarek Tuszynski. Creative Commons License via Wikimedia Commons

My new teacher, Mark Moliterno, taught me that yoga recognizes that tension in the body is often a result of physical or psychological blockages to the breath. The practice of yoga seeks to release tension and free the breath. When properly implemented in the voice studio, yoga can be a pathway to efficient vocal technique and artistic freedom.

Mark pointed out that all of the confusion and fear that had built up during my college studies had caused me to physically disengage from the lower half of my body. So we set to work using yoga to reconnect me with my lower body and help me feel more secure in my singing.

We used postures like Tādāsana or Mountain Pose and Vìrabhadrāsana One or Warrior One to release tension in the body and connect me with the ground. Feeling my leg muscles engaged and my feet planted firmly on the floor helped me to feel more secure. We used pranayama or breath exercises to release tension within the muscles of the respiratory system. We used hip openers to release the tension in my jaw, and shoulder openers to release the tension in my tongue.

We did yoga and made music. Not once in this entire process did I think about any of the mechanics of singing. My technique improved because my body was open and the breath could function naturally and efficiently. Yoga was like this miracle that freed my voice and allowed me to trust myself again. But it isn’t a miracle, it’s a science that takes into account all parts of the person, and not just the anatomical.

yoga 2

Carrie -Yoga shoot #002. Photo by Joel Nilsson. Creative Commons License via Wikimedia Commons

When singers start trying to function as anatomical machines, seeking after flawless technique, we can lose the ability to sing authentically. Yoga helped me to learn to sing with good technique without focusing on it, and dissolved the fear that kept me from trusting my musical instincts. It released the tension in my body and mind, unleashing the breath, and offering me a pathway to artistic freedom.

Mezzo-soprano, Laura Davis, is a singer, conductor, and voice teacher. She holds a Master of Music degree in Voice Pedagogy and Performance from the Catholic University of America and a Bachelor of Music degree in Sacred Music from Westminster Choir College. Recent performances include Suzuki in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, Dina in Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti, and Third Lady in Mozart’s The Magic Flute. After spending 10 years on the east coast conducting, performing, and teaching, Ms. Davis has returned to her home state of Colorado where she is in the process of opening a voice studio based on a holistic approach to singing.

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13. Read & Romp Roundup: February 2014

Welcome to the February Read & Romp Roundup! As usual, we have a nice mix of submissions this month, including some poetry. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the reading -- which will hopefully lead to some romping as well!

Amy at Picture-Book-a-Day is back to share a short review of the new picture book A Dance Like Starlight: One Ballerina's Dream by Kristy Dempsey and Floyd Cooper. The book is set in the 1950's and tells the story of a fictional African-American girl who sees the first "colored" prima ballerina --Janet Collins -- perform. The review is part of a roundup that includes some other recent picture books:  Don't Play with Your Food, Mr. Flux, and Yellow is My Color Star.

Amy was also featured in the February Book to Boogie post at The Library as Incubator Project. In her post, she summarizes the picture book Move! by Robin Page and Steve Jenkins and describes her ideas for using it to inspire movement during library story time.

Elly at Yoga & Creative Movement with Elly suggests retelling the classic picture book Fortunately (by Remy Charlip) through movement games and yoga poses. She also suggests having kids tell, act out, or write their own story in a "fortunately…unfortunately" format. Check out her post for all the details!

Kathleen at Wild Things Yoga is a kindred spirit with a love for picture books and movement, especially yoga. This month she shares a lesson plan -- a shorter version for preschoolers and kindergartners and a longer version for first and second graders -- for combining yoga with the picture book The Leopard's Drum by Jessica Souhami. The book, which is a West African tale about a leopard who doesn't want to share a huge drum he makes, also lends itself to discussions about fairness and problem solving.

And last but not least, two guest dance educators join Maria's Movers to share their experiences using different kinds of poetry in their creative movement classes. Becca Beck and Kerry Bevens discuss building dances around poems, using poems as warm-ups, exploring nursery rhymes in class, and more!

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14. Good Night, Animal World: A Kids Yoga Story

A lot of movement-themed picture books are not the best bedtime picks because they can rile up little ones and make it hard for them to fall asleep. But Good Night, Animal World -- a new children's book by yoga teacher and independent author Giselle Shardlow -- was written to be read specifically at bedtime.

The yoga-inspired text and the illustrations by Emily Gedzyk are all meant to help wind children down at night so they can relax and sleep well. What a great premise -- and one that definitely got me excited (especially as a mother) to look inside this book!

Inside, six characters take readers to six parts of the world -- Australia, England, Guatamala, India, Tanzania, and the United States -- to say goodnight to animals from those specific regions. Each page shows an illustration of an animal, accompanied by some simple text (some imagery about the animal and a goodnight message) and a yoga pose. The 13 poses in the book, chosen for their calming potential, include forward bends, restorative poses, gentle twists, and some inversions.

Below is the "turtle" page from the book, followed by a book trailer that includes other images from the book plus some book reviews -- all set to relaxing music, of course!

It's actually hard to see how children wouldn't be calm after finishing this book. "Embrace their creativity and let them experiment with the poses. Whatever helps them release extra energy before bedtime is the perfect pose," says Giselle. The poses are even laid out in a sequence that facilitates flow from one pose to the next. And my favorite part of the book? The resting pose at the end! Just thinking about it is making me super sleepy… I think I need to take a rest!

This post is part of a blog tour hosted by Mother Daughter Book Reviews, where you can also see the full schedule for the tour. To learn more about author Giselle Shardlow and her series of Yoga Kid Stories, go to her website at www.kidsyogastories.com.

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15. So Good It Hurts (In a Good Way)

OMG, this video had me bawling. So great. Love this whole idea of making the sky rain goodness over one person.


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16. Life Resolutions

While everyone else seems to be making those pesky resolutions for the New Year, I'm working on some life resolutions instead. It's just going slightly slower than I expected. I have some good reasons for this but then everyone usually does because they generally fall into the category of life happens.

Mine include an unexpected business trip, my 16 1/2 year-old dog is ill and may not recover, the pace at work seems to continue to increase, and - well, you get the point. Life Happens!

I did write down some goals, or resolutions, such as: write more, travel more, better organization at work and home, yoga everyday, enjoy life wherever possible, and so on, and so on. I've come to the conclusion, however, over the many years of making New Year's resolutions that what I need is Life Resolutions - in other words, add/subtract things from my life that make sense for the rest of my life.

One of those "things" is yoga. I like the philosophy of yoga and the opportunity for growth and awareness. With New Year's resolutions, a very small percentage, including me, are able to keep them. I've always felt like a failure by February because for the most part, the resolutions weren't reasonable and didn't take into account that life happens.

With yoga and it's many forms of practice, the fact that life happens is part of the process. Besides, it's more workable to fit my goals above into the rest of my life instead of a year.

Happy writing everyone.

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17. Illustration Friday - "Focused"

"Yoga keeps us focused and calm."

My 2009 illustrated book "The ABCs of Yoga for Kids" (written by Teresa Anne Power) has just won its 5th award,the Gold Medal in the Picture Book - Body, Mind & Spirit category in the 2010 Mom's Choice Awards!

You can also read a great review of the book here.

And order the book here.

If you've never tried yoga, it is a great exercise in strength, balance, focus, body awareness, and a great stress reliever. I always leave yoga class with a sense of calm and well-being, and ready for bed!

This post would not be complete without me mentioning one of my favorite sites to visit. It is the site of my friend Polly over at "Yoga is Yummy". Last year I designed a logo for her DVD. You can see her yoga demos, recipes, and even read snippets to nourish your spirit here.

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18. A Thought About Yoga & Love

Much like they describe stretching in yoga, love grows when moving in opposition. Love is this guiding force that roots you down deeper and more firmly so that you can stretch, grow and extend upwards into lightness, into yourself, into stillness. It's a push and pull, opposition and union, you and the divine... all part of the same big gobbledigook of energy pushing to let itself grow & vibrate!

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19. Asilomar Conference: The Magic of Writing and Faculty Picks

Ah...conferences! So hard to sum up three days in short, easily digested blog posts. So I'm going to be brief and will post all week.

The Magic of Writing:
What did the faculty say they do when they get stuck in their own writing?

Gary Schmidt, author of 2008 Newbery Honor Award winner, The Wednesday Wars, and many other novels said there is no such thing as writer's block. If you are stuck on the main plot line write in the negative space. Get off 1st Ave. and write what's happening on 2nd and 3rd and 4th Ave. Might not use any of it, but when you find out what's on the other avenues you could find a surprise waiting for you.

Yuyi Morales, award winning storyteller and illustrator, said that she finds an image she loves and illustrates something similar, tries to copy the style, create like him or her. This pulls her out of her comfort zone and brings her out of her own techniques. She said that when we we find something we love about someone it's like we are looking in the mirror. This process usually brings out a nugget of voice.

Faculty Book Picks

Lips Touch by Laini Taylor
How To Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Staniford
Charles & Emma by Deborah Heiligman
Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
The Hotel Under the Sand by Kage Baker
Bigger Than Life by Carmen Bernier-Grand
Jeremy Draws A Monster by Peter McCarty
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Yesterday I practiced Yin Yoga for the first time and it felt SO amazing. Loved it:)


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20. Custom Order: Yoga Mat Bag

It's in pieces now but I have a feeling it'll be the prettiest yoga mat bag ever :)
I bought the silk in India!

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21. SIGNED books make great GIFTS!

If you order any of the books I have illustrated (click the links on the right margin of this blog), I will personally sign a book plate and drop it in the mail to you in time for the holidays.  I am working on book plate designs for "The ABCs of Yoga for Kids", "Little Black Ant on Park Street", and "Champ's Story: Dogs Get Cancer Too!", and will post examples after the weekend.

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22. I'm Calm, I'm Focused...I'm Lying

I've wanted to try yoga for a while now. This wish was inspired by the calm and creativity of writer friends like Liz Garton Scanlon, who is so filled with peace and gratefulness and generosity that you'd think she'd be annoying, except that she's clever and funny and real, and you can't help but love her. The past year or two especially, my brain feels like a pinball, zinging from topic to topic, bouncing from task to task way too fast and violently to actually accomplish any meaningful thought. So, I finally went to a hatha yoga class at the gym one Sunday night a couple of months ago, and I loved it. I'm doing two classes a week now, and I want to add one more.

Lots of the moves aren't all that hard physically, because I'm flexible, and these aren't highly advanced classes. They're very "do what's available to you and don't worry about what the person on the mat next to yours is doing." I'm good at the moves (postures?), but bad at anything that stresses my wrists. I'm pretty wobbly at the balance stuff, too! So some of it's easy, and some of it's difficult. 

But the most difficult part by far is focusing on the moment. Not letting my mind wander. Not thinking about my to-do list. Not mentally reviewing the budget. Not wondering if I'll ever sell another trade book. Not worrying about my daughter in her new apartment. Not thinking ahead to the manuscript that's due next week.

So that's what I'm most hoping to get: a refuge from the constant decision-making and chaos of real life, and, eventually, an ability to quiet my mind, focus better, and let my creativity run wild.

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23. Thanks for including me...

Here's my first submission...

 I try to do taichi or yoga but don't get around to it very regularly. My ladies are very good at it. This one is a bit hippy but she's so comfortable with herself it really doesn't matter....


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24. Fitness

Hey, if these critters can do it, why can't I? New Year's resolution #1: Do more exercise.
This is my first post on M.A. - thanks for the invite! :)
visit my blog

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25. IF ~ surrender

surrender to nothing...

When you purchase an item from MY STORE, 10% of your purchase price will be donated to my favorite animal charities; Last Chance Animal Rescue and Horses Haven, both in lower MI. Which charity the donation goes to, will depend on the item purchased and I will love you forever from the bottom of my little black heart. ...and even if you don't purchase anything from me, PLEASE go to their site and make a donation! These animals deserve a chance!
Snuggle up by the fireplace, with a warm mug of something and browse through the pages of my website


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