Asana Studies Artwork
Season 5 - Episode 5

Side Body Awareness

40 min - Practice


Zeynep guides us in a three-dimensional exploration of the side body to enhance our perception. We gradually move through a vinyasa flow of Surya Namaskars (Sun Salutations) and Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior Pose), closing with a seated twist, hip-opener, backbend, and a playful exploration to integrate all the parts. You will feel more receptive, open, and spacious.
What You'll Need: Mat


Read Full Transcript

(waves crashing) Hello. Thank you for joining me in this practice. This practice will be about the side body. But the reason it's about the side body is I give a lot of value to the side body because we live in a three dimensional world, obviously, and nothing's so linear. Like I know time is linear, I know thought is linear, and in order to speak, I have to put the words in line and sometimes I can't do that, but anyway so speech is linear, but perception is three dimensional.

So right now as I'm looking towards the camera, I'm also feeling my back and I can also feel even if I can't see it and now I can a little bit the flowers and the warmth behind me and so I'm constantly perceiving the world in three dimensions. And in a yoga practice, we can be very stuck with just forward and backward and forward and backwards. Or in daily life, and what I would like to do today is stretch more of the side body or the side muscles so that we can have a three dimensional experience in a yoga practice and actually, most yoga practices have that but today we'll focus on that and see if it's fun and if your body feels good afterwards. How we're gonna start is just gonna be a seat, a comfortable seat, however you are. You can put a cushion underneath if you want to.

And bring your hands onto your knees and just settle down, settle the seat bones down, lengthen your spine, become as soft as possible without losing the length and then start moving your chest like in a circular motion and bring your heart forward, to the sides, to the back and as you're doing this three dimensionally, you're moving in three dimensions obviously, but feel where you are and you can even close your eyes if you want for a couple of turns and imagine your body where it is right now in three dimensional space. And then you can do it the other way, eyes open or closed is up to you. Feeling where you are in space. And you can also feel the side body allowing you to move in these other directions, not just forward, not just back. But just like all around, be all around in this movement.

And then come to the middle. Let your arms be beside you. Inhale, lift you left arm up. Bring your right hand onto the floor and stretch towards the right. So obviously you feel a big stretch in your left side body.

You can ground your sit bone even further. Then stay here for a couple of breaths. Feel your neck and breathe. You can look down, you can look up, wherever your neck feels comfortable. With an inhale lift your arm up.

Exhale bring it down. Inhale the other arm up and stretch through the other side. Settle down, settle your sit bone down. Feel your neck and this is a new side so do whatever you need to do to make it comfortable for you. Inhaling up, exhaling down.

Inhale, lift the left arm up again. Come towards the right and bring your shoulder all the way to the front, so you're feeling it in your side but it's also back and side so it's not just the side. And then you can bring your shoulder all the way back. And still you're feeling it in your side but it's not just the side, it's the front also. And start moving in between those two extremes but you can maybe do circles with your arms.

Full circles, half circles, where you're enjoying what you're doing, that's the most important thing. And just moving with it. In three dimensions. You don't have to always go in one way, you can change it, stop a little bit and then go on if you want to, feeling the air in between your fingers and moving in three dimensions, like really taking up as much space as you want to. Reaching out, reaching back, to the side.

Feeling what's good for you and then going in and doing it. And every time you do this, it's gonna be different. So tomorrow if you do this practice again, just see what your arm wants to do again. Inhale lifting up. Exhale, bring your hand down.

Inhale the other arm up. Come towards your left and this time, bring your shoulder forward. Feel the back and the side, so whatever's happening to your t-shirt, that's what's happening to your tissues. It's like t-shirt tissue, very similar word, and then bring your heart to the side and just stretch back and feel all this line on your front side. And going in between wherever you want to go.

And however your neck is comfortable. And you can go back and forth, closing your eyes or not. Your eyes can, you head can look down, look up, move around. Your wrist can move even, just a couple of more breaths. And feel the sides of your body or wherever you can, feel the sensation.

With your next inhale, start coming up. Settle down. Close your eyes and feel your shoulders, your arms, your neck, feel the energy going through them. And then opening your eyes. And bring your feet onto the ground.

Now from here, we're going to go into malasana and I'll do it this way. And your heels can be up, you can put something under your heels but we're not gonna stay for long. If your feet can ground, go ahead and ground them and lift your heart forward and up. Settle your pelvis down. Exhale.

Inhaling. Opening the back of the heart and as you exhale next time, bring your hands down and lift your hips up into uttanasana. And then pause. At your own time, bending the knees. Start rolling up slowly.

Feeling the back stretching. And then coming up all the way into tadasana. And then bring the right foot forward, the left foot back and start moving your left arm forward and back and what I want you to do is just play actually on your mat and also feel the space that you can take so be as wide as possible, taking it all the way to the opposite corner as if you're gonna, like stretch all the way along your mat. And just play around in getting wide and large from the tip toe, from the tips of your left foot all the way into your left fingertips. And you can see, feel that side body opening up, lengthening the lateral side.

And feel the air that you're pushing, the wind that you're creating and taking it all the way from the back towards the front and to the side. And then switch. The other side, so start small and what you're doing is, you're slowly getting larger and bigger. And more open from the toes into the fingertips. From one corner of the mat to the other corner of the mat, that's like a big diagonal.

One more time, do a big stretch. And then let it go, releasing the arms, relaxing the legs and just shaking them out. And then coming into tadasana. Look at one point. Lengthening your neck, feeling your heels, with an inhale, start lifting the arms up.

And as you lift your arms up, feel the side body helping your palms to move up as if they're supporting it and your feet grounding further down into the ground. Exhale, folding, stretching the side body forward first and then down and let your head down. Inhale come up, heart forward. Exhale fold. Inhale bend the knees, lift the heart, feel the feet, and then exhale, tadasana.

And again, inhale lift. Stretching the sides up. And then folding. Sides forward and then down. Inhale up halfway.

Exhale down. Bending the knees all the way, lifting the heart and then exhaling, tadasana. And then one more time. Inhale. Maybe even moving a little back but still feel supported by the sides of your feet, the sides of your legs, the sides of your upper body.

And exhale, bring that line forward and then all the way down. Inhale, come up into halfway. Exhale come into down dog. Inhaling into plank, shoulders on top of the wrists. You can go into chaturanga if you want to.

I'll be coming all the way down. And do your backbend. I prefer to do a cobra so using my back muscles to lift me up and then pushing with the hands. Exhale bringing everything down. Inhale, come up onto all fours.

And then exhale into down dog. Inhaling, lifting your right leg up. And lift it as much as you want to and you can maybe feel the side of your body a little bit maybe the side of your leg, but it's not really up but it's more like, wherever it's comfortable and joyful. Bring it all the way forward. The back heel is up.

Bring the hands onto your hips, lifting yourself up into lunge and then settling down. And then here, lifting your left arm up. And then twisting to the side a little bit and moving a little bit to the right. Just a gentle front stretch and a side stretch so play around with your lunge pose. And you don't even need to lift the right arm up, just playing with the left arm and the left side of your body maybe leaning a little to the right.

Inhale, lift both arms up. Exhale, bring yourself forward and down into down dog. Go through a vinyasa if you feel like it or you can stay in down dog and breathe. When you are ready, start lifting the left leg up. Wherever you want to lift it and just feel what's happening in your leg, in your side body.

Exhale, bring it all the way forward. Back leg is straight. Bring your hands onto your hips and lift yourself up. Find a place where it's comfortable but strong. And then start lifting your right arm up.

And find a place where it feels stretchy in the front and the side of your body. And your hand can be free, it can lift the palm up or down. Just settling down. Make sure the lower back is okay by bringing the tailbone slightly down and lifting the heart up. With your next inhale, you can lift both arms up to the traditional lunge and then bring yourself forward, hands down into down dog.

Inhale into plank, shoulders on top of the wrists. Exhale, going through your vinyasa and just enjoying a backbend when you want to with an inhale. And slowly coming into down dog. Staying here for a couple of breaths. Breathing to the sides of your rib cage.

Feel how the breath is moving. Maybe moving your hips side to side a little. Just to feel the lower waist, the sides of the lower waist, and to soften the pelvic area. Bending the knees, lifting the hips up, start moving towards your, walking towards your hands. Inhale, come up halfway.

Exhale fold. Inhale, bend the knees, lift the heart, up utkatasana. Exhale, down. With an inhale, lift your arms up. Again, let the sides lift those arms up all through.

Imagine these strips going from the edges of your feet into your fingertips. Moving that forward, bend your knees if you have to. Coming all the way down. Inhale up halfway. Exhale into down dog.

Realize what you are going in and going back with. You can do a vinyasa if you want to. If not, stay here. And then start lifting your right leg up. Bring it all the way forward.

Bring the back foot down and come into warrior two. And just settle your pelvis down. Your knee is not passing the ankle and just spread your arms to the sides and try not to peek at your back arm, but realize where it is in three dimensions. And maybe you can move it a little out there or a little back. Now whatever you're doing with your arm, it's actually affecting the sensations in your shoulder, in your back, and put it somewhere now and imagine where it is and look at it and see if it really is where you thought it was.

Turn your right palm up, bring it all the way back into reverse warrior and feel your back leg with your left hand. And just feel it all the way down, as much as you can, maybe looking down as well. And then with your inhale, back into warrior two. Exhale into down dog. If you want to go through a vinyasa, go ahead and do that, if you feel you want to be more active.

Your next inhale can bring your left leg up. Exhale brings it all the way forward. Back foot down, grounded, inhale into warrior two. Again, take your time. Then start feeling your back arm and you're not really looking at it, but you're playing with it.

Feel the space behind you and how much you can move with your back arm and then put it into a place where it feels good, it doesn't have to be anything. Imagine where it is and then look at it and see if it is what you think it was which it probably is. Then lift your front palm up, turn your front palm up, bring your right hand onto your leg and start doing a reverse warrior. And even though you're not looking, you can feel the places that you can't see in your body and then look at them and see if it is what you felt like, like if it looks like what it feels like. With an inhale, do a little bit more of it.

Then come into warrior two and then down dog. Inhale into plank just to fire it up a little bit more. Exhale all the way down. Inhale, favorite backbend, whatever it is and then exhale into down dog. Right leg lifts up again.

Comes all the way forward and this time, bring yourself a little forward, like the back foot forward a little bit. Bring the hands forward. Start lifting the left leg up and we're gonna do this weird ardha chandrasana which is my favorite weird pose. Is lifting the back leg up, the inner edge of my foot is parallel to the ground, and I keep both of my hands down and I do a slight twist, so this is what I like doing. I can feel the whole side body and I like lifting this leg which really engages my outer, my side leg let's say.

Find where it feels awesome. I know it looks weird but it feels good. And then get yourself out of it into down dog. Again if you want to go for it, go for your vinyasa. If not, stay here, breathe.

Then lift your left leg up. Bring it forward. Bring yourself forward as if you're gonna do a warrior three but lift your back leg into ardha chandrasana so the inner edge of your foot is parallel to the ground. And start moving your hands where you can feel the side of your chest. And then play with this leg too, you can bring it down a little or you can bring it all the way up.

Wherever it feels nice and juicy and something's happening there. Let your neck be soft. And then twist a little bit if you need to. Just find where it feels a lot but not tensing here. With your next inhale, start getting out of it.

Exhale into down dog. Inhale into plank, going through your vinyasa in a playful, fun way and then exhaling into down dog. With your next inhale, start bringing the knees down and then getting into child's pose. And let your body be heavy for a couple of breaths and feel the back body moving as you're breathing. In your own time, start moving up but bring your hands under your shoulders so you can have a long spine as you come up.

Just settle down for a bit without moving. And feeling the effect of the practice right now happening in your body. Bringing your hips down, bringing your legs forward into dandasana, just getting grounded a little. Then bending your knees and bringing the right foot to the outer edge of your left hip or just a little bit in front of it, it can also be possible. You can put your left foot in here, like inside of your right knee or to the outer edge of your right knee, whatever feels comfortable.

Bring your left hand back and inhale lifting your right arm up and maybe even moving a little back in space so you're doing a side back stretch. And you'll probably feel what I'm trying to say. Then come forward and put your elbow to the outer edge of your knee and just exhale, twist, but feel the, start feeling the sensations from behind your left pelvis all the way into your right shoulder so it's like this big strip of tissue that's stretching right now. And then move your head however it wants to move. And maybe moving back a little just to feel the side body again.

Inhaling to the center. This time, bring the left foot all the way to the outside of your right hip or however much is possible into gomukhasana legs. You can bring the left foot forward if it's too intense for you or you can just keep it like this. Inhale, bring the heart up and then exhale, bring your heart forward in order to soften the tissues in the sides of the legs. Giving yourself time to acclimatize here.

Not rushing, just breathing and use your hands as a check for if you're soft or not. So if your hands are tense, like relax them rather than doing anything with them, start not doing anything with them. And if you feel like you can do a little bit of a side stretch towards the left again, and just let your head hang. You can even move your head to the side and you're gonna feel that the sensation changes as you move your head from side to side. I know the legs are probably burning but let them be like that for a couple of more breaths.

Maybe leaning onto the left a little bit more, stretching the arms maybe to the outside of the mat. As you inhale, start coming up. Exhale, pause. Undoing the legs now, and then let's do the other side so bringing the left foot to the outer edge of your right hip, and then deciding what you want to do with your right foot. I prefer to bring it to the outer edge of my left knee.

Right hand back, left arm up, and then doing a side lean back kind of a stretch. So the left sit bone grounds as I stretch all the way to the right, opposite right. And then bring it, bring the elbow to the outer edge of your knee, then start twisting. And feel the large areas in your body and your back and what's happening and with your neck too, how it wants to be right now today, where it wants to look. Your eyes can be open, they can be closed.

Breathing. Inhaling, coming forward. And then bringing the knees on top of each other. One way of getting into this is actually bringing your hands down and bringing the knees into each other. This is also a way.

Or as I said before, you can bring the left leg forward if it's too intense. Inhale, lift the heart up and then as you exhale, bring your heart forward gently, this is an intense stretch for some bodies, definitely mine. And just taking your time. Again, using your hands as a point of relaxation, your jaw, your pelvic floor. Let your head hang down.

Breathing. And it takes time for the legs to soften, the sides of the legs. Maybe you can start doing that stretch towards the right and just let the side of your body or the back of your body lead you where you should be going. You can move your head again and feel how it's attached to the lower back. When you move your head, you're also feeling your back muscles.

Especially the upper back. As you start inhaling, start coming up. And then as you exhale, pause and settle. Okay, from here, undo the legs and let's go lying down on our backs. And you can bring your arms back again.

Open your feet apart a little bit and start moving from side to side. You can actually, if you need to bend your knees a little, you can do that. Just like a child, exploring it's back body, it's side body, roll from side to side. And as we did standing up, start stretching from one foot to the opposite arm when you're on your side. And you'll see what I mean as you explore so stretching from one edge, one corner to the opposite diagonal corner of the mat or even outside the mat, like get out of the mat and stretch yourself.

You can even bring the heart all the way down when you're rolling so you can feel the stretch even deeper. Okay and when you are ready, come on your back. Come on your mat if you've already gone out of it. And bring your feet under your knees like in front of your hips. Settle, breathe.

Inhale, bring the arms back in space. And exhale, start lifting your hips up into setu bandha sarvangasana. Inhale, bring the vertebrae down one by one. And it can take a couple of breaths. With another exhale, start lifting up again and we're gonna do this a couple of times just like a massage for the back before we go into shavasana.

Going up and down. And then maybe one final time bring the tailbone forward, grounding the hips, enjoying this backbend and then inhale, bringing everything down. Bring your arms to the sides. Left leg on top of the right leg, legs on top of each other. Exhale, twist, bring the knees to the right and head towards the left.

You can even bring your left hand all the way up and you're gonna see that wherever that hand is, it's gonna change the sensations in your side. Inhale to the center. Switch the legs. Right leg is on top as you exhale, bring the knees towards the left and the right arm moves up. Again you're exploring the sensations.

It's not about how it looks or what it should be, it's just an exploration. Even your neck helps and then inhale to the center. Untie your legs, bring the legs forward. Spread yourself on your mat three dimensionally and close your eyes. Give yourself time to settle.

Give your body time to get heavy. Feeling the sensations. Feeling the breath. You can stay here as long as you want to. If you feel you're ready to get up, take your time, start moving your hands and your feet.

Stretching the arms, stretching the feet, the whole front body and then bending the knees, rolling on one side, keeping the eyes open or closed, it's up to you. And when you are ready to get up, come up into a seat. And come up into any seated pose you want to, so I'll be sitting like this. And just close my eyes. Feel your body in three dimensions, the space you're taking.

Your back, the sides, the front. And it might feel bigger than it looks, that's normal. Try expanding that a little, the sensation of your back body, your sides just getting wider. Taking up more space as you settle in your seat, as you relax. Breathing into it as you get wider.

The heart area is widening up as well. Now before you open your eyes, just feel that space that you're taking up and try to keep it as wide as possible as you open your eyes so without wrecking it, slowly open the eyes. And then bringing your hands in front of your heart. Namaste, thank you for being with me. Hope to see you next time.


Johanna L
First time in your class, this made me feel good
Thank you from Sweden.
Zeynep Celen
Dear Johanna, nice to meet you! And thank you for practicing with me... I am glad it worked for you too, I love exploring the side body...
Ece A
Zeynep Celen! I love your class... love that you are in my living room.
Zeynep Celen
Thank you so much Ece for watching the class!
I love the fact that I can be in your living room, and I hope to be there in person one day, too! :)
John Jackson
Zeynep Celen that was absolutely beautiful! The first time I've practiced with you and feel so relaxed and calm now. I felt every part of my body - exploring sensations I haven't felt before. Thank you! x
Zeynep Celen
Dear John Jackson ,I am so glad that this session was able to assist you with the exploration of your senses...Thank you so much for joining me and practicing with me! :)
Rosanna S
This class was amazing. I feel so good now! I loved how your cues led to fine tuning like a tuning fork. This is the closest I've found to what Erich Schiffmann teaches in his freedom style yoga. Thank you for helping me find joy in the side body this morning.

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