Asana Studies Artwork
Season 5 - Episode 3

Front Body Exploration

35 min - Practice


We meet and confront the world with our front body. Zeynep guides us in a practice of exploring the sensation in the front body—opening, stretching, and expanding to promote a sense of courage and freedom. We move through standing postures and find an expansive backbend in Dhanurasana (Bow Pose), before closing with a seated forward fold, twist, and supported Savasana (Corpse Pose).
What You'll Need: Mat, Block


Read Full Transcript

(waves crashing) Hello, thank you for joining me. Today in this episode, what I'm gonna talk about and what we're gonna practice on is feeling the front body and kind of stretching it and relaxing it a little because in our daily lives, we always confront, or confront the world with our front body and it has our most valuable areas in our body, like our face, our heart area, our belly, our sexual organs and we just walk and greet people, greet the world with this front body and it's very prone to being tense and to shriveling up and that can lead into slouching and into frowning and into locking the jaw because we don't, you know, it's like a protection mode, but with this practice, what I'm aiming is to actually get out of that protection mode and just feeling the front so that when you are with others, you can just feel the moments that you're tensing and then you can, maybe there's a chance of relaxing and not being so protective against the world. So in our daily lives, with this practice or just doing practices like this, what I'm aiming is to feel the front body and to feel when it does tense unnecessarily when you're meeting your friends or meeting others around you because it's not such a hostile world actually, but the body sometimes feels like it is and that's why it crumbles up, so we'll be focusing on that and I hope you enjoy it and the key is to enjoy because this isn't so serious. Life is serious anyway, so let's not make it so serious in this video on the mat and let's enjoy the body and life as it is. Okay, so we'll start in balasana at the back of your mat.

You might need a block, so if you can get it right now if you have something or it could be a book that looks like that block and then we'll use it at the end of the episode. So once your legs are together and you can put them apart too if it doesn't feel comfortable. The front of your body, like the front of the chest, forwards, stretching it out at first, but then rounding yourself way all the way in. Bring your arms back and be as tiny as possible here, so give some time to squeeze yourself in. This is the ultimate protection shape we can get into, like squeezing and hiding the front body from the world outside, so it has that feeling of protection, but it also can be tense.

So really do a lot. Squeeze yourself in because we're gonna come out of it in a bit and feel how much effort there is to protect or to become this tiny and with your inhales, start rolling out of it. Bring your hands next to your knees and it's like opening of a flower, slowly lifting yourself up and feeling the changes in your body, maybe even in your emotions, like you're greeting the world. Now, you can see the light. You can see your room and bring your hands back and see how that feels, like lifting the heart up and seeing the ceiling maybe and then bring yourself back down, but this time, bit by bit.

Feel the belly, feel the chest. Feel your shoulders rounding your spine and again becoming small. Maybe an exhale helps you become small and then an inhale starts making you blossom and it can be several inhales. This time, I didn't put my arms forward. I'm using them and I'm just turning my arms out too.

I'm just opening up as much as it's comfortable. Don't push yourself to be extremely open. I want you to be comfortable, that's more important and then again, bring your shoulders forward and then you're getting into that slouch position and just rounding and becoming tiny and with an inhale, start opening up and I think opening up feels better now as we're getting into it more and more. You can even bring your hands back and even if you feel like it, lift your knees and lift the heart for kind of a backbend and even bring your head back and then with an exhale, bring the knees down. Bring the heart forward, but you're still opening up as you're coming down.

It's not about hiding anymore. It's about just enjoying where you are and still being open. Then, resting in child's pose. With your next inhale, bring your hands forward, grounding the palms, feeling the ground and the next inhale should bring you up onto all fours. Tuck your toes under and then exhale will lift you all the way up and feel the feet.

Feel the grounding of the balls of the feet. Don't push yourself into any particular shape. Just enjoy your hands and your feet being down and your hips pulling back. Inhale, bring the knees down again. Exhale, coming into child's, but this time, the hands can be forward and again, feel your legs touching your chest.

Inhale, come up all fours. Exhale into down dog. You're being lifted from the pelvis up and back and just like maybe softening the rounds of the pelvis, the sides, and then coming up, coming down into all fours and then child's. We'll do this one last time. The inhale lifts you up.

Hands become heavy. The exhale lifts you into down dog and start moving your feet up and down as if you're massaging the mat with your feet and start bringing that movement forward and let your pelvis swing as well and your neck and just making your body as soft as possible. It doesn't have to be too soft and bring your feet forward and once you're at the front of your mat, let your head hang down and become heavy. Feel your feet. Feel the right foot, the left foot.

Just move your weight along the feet. Feel the ground and bend your knees slightly. Start rounding your spine, your arms being heavy and lift yourself up gently. Slowly opening the front body and finding your tadasana. Lifting the base of the skull up and your eyes looking forward, but don't lock into anything.

Don't lock your body, don't lock your gaze. Just enjoy where you are. Enjoy your breath. Feel the feet and with your inhale, start lifting the arms up and reach as much as you want to and feel the front body expanding as you reach your arms up so it's like a subtle backbend and with an exhale, we're gonna stop that back-bending and turn it into a forward bend and let your head down. Feel the backs of your legs.

Inhale, come up halfway. Make sure you're coming up halfway by pushing the feet into the ground and then exhale, folding again and just becoming heavy with the upper body. Inhale, bend the knees and start lifting the heart up. We're transitioning into a standing pose and then exhale, stand all the way into tadasana, but again, feeling the front of your body. Inhale, lift the arms and maybe a subtle backbend and then exhale, folding gently, feeling your back.

Inhale, coming up halfway. Shoulders back. Palms open and then exhale, folding again and feeling the ground. Inhale, bend the knees all the way. Lift yourself up and then exhale, tadasana and one more time with an inhale at your own pace.

You can even add variations if you want to. I'll take my time as I do this exhale folding, but if you wanna wait a little or stretch a little, go ahead and stretch. Inhale, coming up halfway. Feel what your neck wants to do right now and then exhale, fold again. With the next inhale coming towards tadasana and then an exhale, tadasana.

Maybe this time, the arms are back or from the front, moving. Inhale, bring the arms up and then exhale, turn the pelvis. Move forward and down. Inhale, start coming up halfway. Bend the knees and this time, bring the left foot back all the way and ground the ball of your foot.

Move your hair back if you need to and then bring your hands onto your hips and lift yourself up into lunge. With your next inhale, I want you to feel the left side of your body because this is where the big stretch is gonna happen. Start lifting your arms, but as you lift your arms, feel the sensation changing in your left front body from the ankle to the wrist and even when you bring your heart forward and up, you can feel it even further. Ground your feet. Inhale, enjoy, and then bring your heart forward.

Bring your hands down. Left foot comes forward and then the right foot moves back. Ball of the foot grounds. Heart moves forward. It's opening up slowly and then hands onto your hips and there we go, we're standing up, the heart exposed, the belly exposed, and the front body stretching open and the right side can start opening even further with your arms up.

Shoulders down and just feel the sensations in your right side and you can even maybe stretch a little bit more to feel it. Then, inhale. As you exhale, bring the heart forward. Bring your hands down. Back foot comes forward.

You fold. Inhale into utkatasana. This time, exhale back into uttanasana. Inhale, come up halfway and then exhale into down dog, broadening the toes, lifting the hips back. With an inhale, bring your hands, shoulders on top of your wrists and if you wanna do a full chaturanga or you can bring your knees down.

What I'm gonna do is I'm gonna come all the way down in a straight line and just put the tops of my feet down and lift into a cobra, but what I'm looking at when I'm doing cobra is just feeling the front body stretching open and even my neck, moving my neck, changes the sensations in my belly, in my hip creases. I recommend you try this and just looking for that spot where it feels good and interesting and then exhale, bring it all the way down and at your own pace, coming into down dog. Taking a couple of breaths here. Feeling your jaw. Feeling the space between your eyebrows.

No need to tense them right now and then start moving forward. Again, massaging the mat as you come. Inhale up halfway. Exhale down. Inhale into utkatasana, sitting deeper maybe this time just for fun and then exhale, tadasana.

With the next inhale, lift the arms up and just stretching a little bit more up and then back, which means again, the hip creases. The front body has a chance to stretch, but make sure you're being supported from the ground. It's not like lifting up only. It's grounding down at the same time. Exhale, come forward and just bow towards the ground.

Inhale up halfway. Bending the knees, bringing the left foot back and left knee down this time for a deeper sensation and then bring your hands onto your hips. You can settle your pelvis further, but make sure the, your limits should be what feels here, so I'm all about, I'm interested in your sensations in the left side. Grounding the right foot so that it supports the left side and then start lifting your left arm up and you can even twist a little bit to the right and this is immediately gonna change the sensations maybe today and lift yourself up and back and you can bend your elbow if you want to, touch your back and just breathing here. If you wanna clasp the hands, you can go ahead and do that and make sure whatever the neck's doing, it's supporting the feeling.

It's not just looking good and then inhale, lift the arms up. Exhale, bring your heart forward. Lift the back knee. Bring it forward, fold and then inhale, come up halfway and bring the right foot back and the right knee down. Lift yourself up and settle your pelvis down.

This time, the attention is on your right side and softening down and make sure the lower back doesn't hurt, just so that you can feel your right side. The tailbone is moving down and then the heart is moving up and lifting your right arm up and maybe even twisting towards your left and then bending your elbow and then moving yourself to the, twisting and moving back at the same time and you can even clasp or use your T-shirt. If you got long hair, you can use your hair even. That's what I used to do and then bring your head back. This is where it's comfortable for me.

Your shape will probably look different and that's a good thing and then inhale, lift both arms up to this traditional pose and then bring your hands down. Lift the back knee up and uttanasana. Inhale into utkatasana. Exhale, fold again. Inhale, lift yourself up halfway.

Exhale, down dog. If you wanna go through your vinyasa like I did, you can do that or you can stay in down dog and just breathe with the sensations, especially in your hip creases and the front of your heart and your breath and how your breath is moving you and when you're ready, start moving forward and just feeling each step. This is like walking meditation every time you're doing this. You can do this several times in your practice. Inhale up halfway.

Exhale, fold. Inhale, utkatasana, just for some strength for those legs and then exhale, tadasana. So we want to greet the world with a strong and sensitive front body, but we want strong legs at the same time for grounding because our support is coming from the ground. It's not from anywhere else. Earth is the most grounding, most supporting thing ever.

Mother Earth, that's why it's called Mother. Okay. Inhaling, then lifting the arms up, feeling the ground. Exhale, folding. Inhale up halfway again and exhale, down dog.

If you want a stronger practice, again, you can go ahead and do a chaturanga up dog. If not, you can stay here and with your inhale, start lifting up the right leg and then exhale, bringing it all the way forward. Back foot grounds. Come up into a warrior two, but we're not gonna stay here long because my aim is gonna take you, my aim is to take you into ardha chandrasana. So bring your back hand onto your hip and then just come forward into an ardha chandrasana.

You can use your book here if you want to. You can bend your front knee and I'm more interested in just finding a little bit of a stretch in the hip crease in your leg and even in your heart and then just lift this arm wherever it wants to go, so it doesn't have to be perfectly up. Right now, for me, this is the place. So my arm stretch is supporting my hip stretch at the same time. Inhale, do a little bit more, emphasizing it and then exhale, bending the knee, coming into down dog.

Inhale, come into plank. Exhale all the way down. You can bring your knees down as well before if you want to. Inhale, lift the heart as much as it feels comfortable. Exhale all the way into down dog.

Let's do the other side. Lift the left leg up where it feels comfortable and then bring it all the way forward. A brief warrior two, grounding the back foot. Make sure the front knee doesn't hurt and once you're settled in this shape, you can move on into ardha chandrasana. Bring your back foot forward, your hand down, and you can keep this knee bent so that your hand can be down or stretch it if it's comfortable and then find that place where you feel the front of your right hip and support it with your arm and you don't even need to look up.

I'm not interested in where you're looking. Make sure it feels good and it can evolve, change. Two more breaths here. Emphasize it and then bend your knee into down dog. With your inhale, come up into plank.

Look a little forward this time and then exhale, bring your heart forward and down and from here, just lying on your mat and then bringing your elbows under your shoulders if this is comfortable for you. They can be a little bit more forward like a sphinx pose and then bring your right hand to where your left elbow is, right shoulder moving back and bring your hand back and bend your left knee. So you can hold your foot from the inside or from the outside. If you're holding it from the inside, maybe you can pull it a little deeper towards you and your fingers are looking out towards the edge of the mat and maybe even the fingers start turning forward towards the front of the mat, but only if your shoulder's comfortable with this. This is half bakasana.

Bring your heart forward and become aware of your right shoulder. Feel the thigh stretch and then letting go. Coming into sphinx. Softening here and then doing the other side, so it's left hand to where your right elbow is. Left shoulder back.

Bring your hand back, bending the knee, so I'm lifting my pelvis to reach, but what I'm doing afterwards is bringing the pelvis down so that I can feel that stretch in my hip crease and my thigh and just bringing your hand. Fingers look outwards or maybe even, if it's comfortable, forwards. Breathing, feeling the jaw. Then, releasing. Just lie on one cheek and then move that pelvis side to side just to relax and feel the ground, like really touch the ground with your front body, this supporting ground that's always there.

No matter what you do, no matter what happens, the ground is always there to catch us and then let's do dhanurasana now on that supporting ground. Bring your forehead forward and bend your knees and your feet can be looking up at the ceiling. Bring your arms back, but don't cling on to your ankles right now. Just lift your heart up. Shoulders back as if you're doing a salabhasana and then hold your feet, so you're actually doing the foundation first and then getting into the details.

Feet are looking up and if it feels comfortable, with an inhale, maybe doing a little bit more, just moving your feet up in space and just feel what your feet are doing, if they're wonky, and just big toe bases lifting up as well. Inhale, soften the jaw. Look where it's comfortable and then exhale, come all the way down. Come onto your other cheek. I'll be on the same cheek 'cause of my mic, but again, spread yourself on the floor and be as wide as possible and ground yourself and just move your sacrum side to side, your pelvis, and then bring your legs close to each other.

Bring your hands beside you. Inhale onto all fours and then exhale into down dog. This down dog will feel great on your lower back. Let your head dangle and with your inhale, this time we're gonna do the left side first. Lift your left leg up and move it to the side a little for a slight backbend, but we're not gonna go into the full one and then with your exhale, bring that knee in and just round your spine and become tiny on your left side.

Inhale, spreading open, even maybe lifting your head, the side of your neck and then exhale, rounding again and just do this a couple of times, maybe three more times just to massage your lower back and also to feel the sensations in your front and your back and just playing around with your body. Opening up and then exhale, closing, all the way in. This time, coming into down dog. Breathing. Inhale, lift the right leg up.

Again, to the side, a little stretch and then becoming tiny, rounding. Inhale up. Opening. Use your head however you want to. Exhale, tiny.

Pushing the ground, inhale. So three more times at your own pace and your own style and everyday, this is gonna change. What you need is gonna change. Don't stick to any form. Just go on with it one final time and then exhaling and then coming into down dog, lifting your heels up, bending your knees down, looking at your hands, and playfully jump forward and come to a sit.

So once you're seated, bring your legs forward. Take the buttock flesh out. Come towards the front of your sit bones and you can bend your knees if you want to or they can be straight if you're comfortable with your forward bend. Inhale, lift the front of the heart up and as you exhale, bring the belly and the heart forward. Just realize what you're bringing forwards and your neck is also coming forward and your face and just find somewhere that's comfortable on your legs and let your head down.

Make sure you feel the back and you're stretching the back forward as well, but I want the front of your chest to touch your legs as much as possible. We've been separating them so much for the past few minutes and now it's time to bring them close to each other where they can relax. With an inhale, start lifting yourself up. Look at your feet and bend your right knee and let your left leg move a little bit to the side. Inhale, lift the front body and actually, expand your front body and then lift your right arm up and twist your chest towards your left leg and just start reaching out, but reach out with your heart, not just with your hand, with your heart and belly forward as much as it's going.

Whenever you feel like it, let your head down and let each breath be an invitation to go deeper, but not forcefully. It's just gently moving in as much as it wants to and it's an alive pose, so don't stick and be stiff where you are. Just let your breath make you fluid. As you start inhaling, start lifting yourself up and then changing your legs, playfully again. Settling the sit bones down.

Spreading the heart open. So it is gonna be a forward bend, but it can start with a heart opening and then start lifting your left arm up. Reach up to the sky. Twist and then start moving forward with the whole of your chest. Not just with an arm.

Now just with an idea. It's the whole physical body moving forward, upper body moving forward and meeting the lower body and just breathing, molding with it like it's an evolving pose. Every pose is like that. Feel your jaw. With your inhale, start coming up, lifting yourself up and then we're gonna be in a reclined pose.

So I want you to take your block and lie back on the ground. First, feel the ground underneath you and make sure your knees are bent in the beginning and feel the sacrum area and then lift your hips up and take the block and bring it under your sacrum, so not in your lower back, but further down where it's comfortable, where it's not hurting you and then bring your legs, like spread them out straight. Could be to the sides. What I like doing here is bringing my arms back too and just closing my eyes and relaxing here. Make sure, you can take a couple of breaths from your mouth, but make sure the rest of it is from your nose if it's not blocked.

As you're breathing, inviting the breath towards the lower abdomen, towards the pelvic floor as if the lower abdomen or the pelvic floor is spreading open to the sides. If this feels too intense for you, you can always bend your knees or you can take the block out, but please do go on breathing into your pelvic floor. The ground is still behind, supporting, and the breath is inviting the muscles to relax as much as possible right now. Give yourself time for the pelvic floor to move with the breath. Doesn't have to happen today.

Just becoming aware of what's happening right now where you are. You'll find yourself, parts of your body, relaxing at different times, at their own pace. If you feel this should be longer, please don't hesitate to stay here. If you're ready to get out of it, bend your knees. Lift your hips up.

Take the block away and just come onto the back of your, bring the back of your pelvis down and just stay here with bent knees. Go on closing your eyes and you can even feel your pelvic bones with your hands and just touch yourself in the lower abdomen as if you're comforting it or supporting it or just being present with it. Inviting the breath to the lower body. You can extend this as much as you want. If you're ready to get out of this too, you can start moving yourself to one side and bringing your hand, your arm under your head and kind of coming into a side child's pose, but not too intense, just like a comfortable bed position and staying here, letting your lower back relax.

Then, whenever you're ready, start moving up, opening your eyes whenever you want to. You can still keep them closed and then coming into a sit. Eyes open, eyes closed, it's up to you and what I recommend is putting one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly and just noticing these areas that are constantly perceiving the world and just being with them, silently acknowledging their presence. Whenever you feel comfortable, opening the eyes. Putting the hands in front of your heart.

Thank you for being with me throughout this episode. Take good care of your front body.


Ebru B
2 people like this.
Hi Zeynep. Loved this video. It is so nice to be able to practice with you again. Wishing you all the best??????
Cigdem M
2 people like this.
Such a lovely class. My frontal body will be smiling all day. Thank you Zeynep.
Sinemis B
2 people like this.
hearing your voice teaching me again is beyond words , thank you , missed you
1 person likes this.
Doing practice with you,hearing your voice and energy are incredible!!!!!!
What a lovely day :)Thank you Zeynep
Zeynep Celen
Thank you all for watching and being here :)!! I am so glad that we can be together again, wish I could see you all practicing with it too! :)

Thank you! And lots of hugs to each one of you (Ebru, Çigdem, Sinemis ve Pinar :) )
Johanna L
1 person likes this.
Aussum! Thank you.
Zeynep Celen
Thank you, too! Johanna :)
Elissa P
2 people like this.
I really enjoy your teaching. How fun it would be to take your classes in person in Istanbul!
Phuong E
Thank you, Zeynep. I did this practice a few days ago and people sent me photos of their unguarded, open faces without me asking. Strangers smiled at me. Isn’t that interesting?
Laura M
A wonderful practice! Thank you!!
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