Asana Studies Artwork
Season 5 - Episode 8

Heart Opening from Within

40 min - Practice


The entire universe is within you. Zeynep guides us in a practice designed to increase our awareness of the heart and sense the inner space. We begin with a seated meditation to land, before flowing into standing sequence that gradually builds towards Natarajasana (Lord of the Dance Pose) and Urdhva Dhanurasana (Wheel Pose). You will feel more centered and expansive.
What You'll Need: Mat


Read Full Transcript

(waves crashing) Hello, welcome back. Thank you for joining me in this practice. This practice will be mainly focused on back bends and heart openings. I'm not sure how much physically the heart can open. I feel that opening the heart is actually a very internal thing.

And it happens more and more when you're brave enough to look inside and actually open your heart inside to you. So I would ask you throughout this practice to just stay with your boundaries and just play around with them. Playfully, but not really pushing them or attaching an idea to where you should be but just seeing where you are and playing around with where you are. I believe that every body is lovely and every cell is lovely, and it's got everything that's needed already. So the shapes will look like heart openers, but I want you to focus inside and open the heart inwardly, not outside, as we're doing the back bends and seeing what's happening wherever you are.

So we'll start with a small meditation and then we'll go on with the practice. You won't need any props. You might need a small blanket maybe if your knee hurts on the mat. You can get that right now if you want. If not, why don't you sit on a cushion or whatever you like sitting on.

You can even sit on your couch if you want to for the meditation, just for a couple of minutes, closing the eyes. And then putting your arms where it's comfortable. And just feeling the inner space. Give yourself time to settle. And just feeling your body.

Whatever you're feeling right now. Feeling your back. Feeling your front. Feeling the sides. Feeling what's touching the ground.

Feeling the heart area. That center of awareness. It senses what's happening outside. It tells what's happening inside. And just imagining the breath moving around the heart area.

Containing what's happening right now where you are. Could be joyful feelings, beautiful feelings or not so beautiful ones. And they're all okay and included. Just encapsulating whatever there is right now. If you feel you're thinking too much, just give a couple of breaths of thinking less and feeling more.

At your own pace, slowly start opening the eyes. Stay here a little bit longer if you feel like that's the thing you need. From here when you're ready, start coming into all fours, taking away your meditation cushion, clearing your mat, and maybe bringing your hands a little more forward than your shoulders. That's where I feel it's comfortable for the following practice. Rounding your spine and just stretching a little.

Sometimes I like coming onto my fingertips, just to increase the stretch. And then lifting the tailbone and the crown of the head and grounding my palms. You can do this a couple of times, just to warm up the spine. And then when you're ready, start staying in Cat. So you're rounding your spine and then as you're rounding your spine, do it a little more by pushing the hands into the floor.

Then bring your hips forward and feel the upper spine and then as you bring your hips forward, you're gonna move into a Cobra but bend your elbows whenever you need to, without hurting your lower back, and come all the way down and feel how you're touching the ground. Bringing your arms back, start lifting the front of your heart to a small Shalabhasana and then maybe even putting your legs slightly up as well. But softening the buttocks as much as possible, just like a mild back bend. Even the hands can be up. Feel your neck, move if you have to and then come all the way down.

Bring your hands beside you, inhale, start lifting the front of the heart, without pushing the hands first and then push the hands when you're a bit up into Cobra again. Then start lifting your hips up, rounding your spine and going all the way back, stretching your back as you're coming into Child's. Inhale coming up, all fours. I put my hands a bit forward again. Exhale, round.

And then start bringing your hips forward, really feeling the stretch in your upper back. Enjoying it, doing it at a pace that you like doing it, going into Cobra and then coming all the way down bit by bit. And then finding a Shalabhasana. This time, maybe you wanna bend your elbows at the sides or maybe bring one arm forward if it feels like the right thing to do or both arms forward if you're used to that. Again, feel your neck, feel your shoulders.

Bring the legs down, you're already slightly, the shoulders are up a little bit so start pushing the hands down so that it becomes a Cobra. And then as you exhale, coming into Child's again. Just stretching your back and feeling the sensations. Inhaling up onto all fours. One last time, exhale round at your own pace.

And then start bringing your hips forward. Your spine will start going into a back bend and then bringing yourself down bit by bit, feeling the ground. One more Shalabhasana. However it wants to be. With the arms, with the legs, with the neck.

Couple of breaths maybe. Let the breath flow. And then hands down, legs down, heart still up and pushing the hands down so that the hearts moves even further and then into Child's. Exhaling as you come into Child's. Pushing the hands a little forward to increase what's happening in your back.

Maybe wiggling a little bit side to side, softening the back and then coming up onto all fours. Then to Down Dog at your own pace. You might like to move your feet, your knees, your hips as you're here. Your neck. You might like to spread your feet further apart.

Just warming up your body here. Enjoying the sensations, you can lift one leg up if you feel like it. A couple of breaths, making the hands heavy, and just pushing with the hands so that the sit bones can move back. Making sure the neck is where it wants to be. And when you're ready, start moving towards the hands, walking.

Feel the breath, feel what's happening right now, where you are. Inhale, start coming up halfway, bending the knees. Exhale, Fold. Lifting those hip bones up, letting the head be heavy. With your next inhale, bend the knees, lift the heart again.

And this time, keeping the heart forward, bring your hands onto your hips and start coming up by turning the pelvis upwards and grounding through the feet into Tadasana. And just relaxing yourself in Tadasana. Relaxing your neck, your shoulders, your hips, your legs, shaking them out a little bit. Straightening your hair if you need to and then sticking to Tadasana. Broadening the palms, lifting the crown of the head up, heels grounding.

Feeling what's happening and just tuning in. With your inhale, start lifting the arms as you ground the feet further down and just bring the hands where it feels comfortable and where there's a nice stretch happening. So it can be a little bit back or a little bit forward. As you exhale, turning the pelvis, bring it all the way forward and down the heart, and then let your head hang down. Inhale, lifting up halfway.

Exhaling, Folding again. Bending the knees with your inhale, coming up into Chair, and then come into Tadasana. This is a lovely way of warming up. Inhale, lifting the arms wherever you, you can put them from the sides too, all the way up and then exhale, Folding, at your own pace. And just finding, landing in Uttanasana.

Inhale, bring the heart forward. Push the feet into the ground as you're doing it and then exhale, gently moving back into Uttanasana. Inhale, bend the knees for Utkatasana. Sitting back and then Tadasana. And one more at your own pace.

And you can just do it as much as you remember it or do it the way you want to do it, Half Sun Salute. It doesn't have to be any particular way, just enjoy your body as you're moving it. And when you're ready, come back into Tadasana. Feel your palms, feel your neck, feel your eyes. With your next inhale again, lift your arms.

Maybe this time you can try that, bringing the arms from the back, all the way up, just feeling your shoulder blade areas. Exhaling, Folding all the way down. Inhale, bringing the heart forward and then exhaling into Down Dog. Pushing those hip bones up and back, inhale coming into Plank. And you can either come all the way down or bring your knees down, then come down or into a Chaturanga.

Coming up into either Shalabhasana, Cobra, or Up Dog if you feel like it. Exhale, coming all the way down. Inhale, all fours and then exhale Down Dog. Staying a couple breaths here. Again, feeling the heart area.

Imagining the breath going around the heart area and just moving it, moving you right now where you are. Always present with you where you are. And then bending the knees, lifting the hips, jump if you feel like it or start walking forward. Inhale into Halfway. Exhale, Fold.

Inhale into Chair at your own pace and then Mountain. And one more time. Bring your hands back, bring the heart up, and then look as far as it's comfortable for your neck. Make sure the back of the neck is long. Exhaling, Folding, and landing lightly into Uttanasana.

Inhale, come up halfway and then exhale into Down Dog. You can go through your Vinyasa if you feel like it. Then lifting the left leg when you're ready to lift it. You can even open it to the side a little bit, bend it a little bit, just to feel the front of the hip crease on the left side. And then bring it all the way forward.

And then come onto your fingertips. Bring the heart forward a little bit, lift the back thigh up. So the biggest support of back bends is the legs actually. That's why we're gonna do lunges right now. And then bring your hands onto the hips and then start lifting yourself up, feeling the back leg and the front of the right side, and then start settling down into where you are.

With your inhales, start lifting the right arm up, bending the elbow. With your left hand, bring the elbow in and down, the right elbow in and down. You can stay like this or you can turn the left palm back and then bring it all the way back into holding the other hand or just holding the T-shirt, it's up to you. With your inhale, start lifting the front of the heart a little forward and then up. Breathe.

Do a little bit more of what you're doing and then start getting out of it into Down Dog. Molding, feeling, evolving into it. If you like Vinyasa, go ahead and do it right now or stay in Down Dog. Feel the heart area. And then with your next inhale, start lifting the right leg up, bringing it all the way forward.

Come onto to your fingertips, bring the heart forward. Feel the back leg, straightening the back leg. Feeling the ball of the back foot and then hold your hips, lift yourself up. Settle down into where you are. Big toe base grounds on the right foot, that's your support.

And then lifting your left arm up, bending the elbow. Help the elbow inwards and down with your right hand. You can stay here or you can bring the other hand, the right hand, turn it back and then bring it all the way towards your upper back. Now, just settle deeper here. Bring the heart forward and then up so that your lower back has space to lengthen and then do a little bit more of what you're doing.

And then come out of it into Down Dog. Inhaling into Plank. Lightly landing all the way down and then coming into your back bend. For Cobra, you can spread the hands a bit more apart if you want to and then going on into Down Dog. Breathing.

Inhaling, lifting the left leg up and then bringing it all the way forward. Bringing the back knee down, inhale, lift yourself up. You might like to put a blanket under your knee if it doesn't feel right for you right now or stay like this and just settle into where you are. Bringing your left hand onto your knee, just for support, start bringing the pelvis down a little bit and the front of the heart up, and maybe turning your head towards your right foot. If it feels comfortable, you can start bending the knee and just holding your foot.

Nothing too extreme, you can just stay like this with your hand on your pelvis or if it's comfortable, you can hold your foot. If it's really comfortable, you can start lifting your left arm up and bending your elbow. And just keep the right foot active and then the heart moving forward and up. Find a place where you're enjoying what you're doing and then getting out of it into Down Dog. Closing the eyes, feeling what's happening, staying with what's happening.

Going through a Vinyasa if you feel like that's the thing to do. Opening the eyes whenever you want to. Just connecting with whatever is happening. Lifting the right leg up at your own pace and then bringing it all the way forward. Back knee down.

Again, move your blanket if you need to under your knee and then lift yourself up. This is a new side so we're gonna again take our time settling the pelvis down. Big toe base grounding and then the right arm rests on the leg. You can start turning your heart towards the left a little a bit. And you can stay here or if it feels comfortable, maybe you can start reaching to the back ankle.

You can pull it a little closer if you're used to this pose. I would keep it simple as long as it feels something. And then lift your arm up, bend your elbow, and just being here. Bring your heart forward and up. With an inhale, doing a little bit more and then getting out of it into Down Dog.

Inhaling into Plank, coming all the way down. Doing your back bend, feeling the back, lifting you up, and then the hands helping you. And just feel what's happening right now. Start coming down and out of it into Down Dog. At your own time, start walking.

Or jumping forward. Inhaling up halfway, exhaling Folding, and just staying here for a couple of breaths. Do whatever you need to do with your arms. Letting your upper body be heavy. Feel the energy of those back bends.

They're a bit challenging as the longer we stay in them. They're more challenging. And just staying at Uttanasana with the effects on the breath. At your own pace, start opening up into Halfway. Hands onto your hips and start lifting all the way up.

Okay. Shaking it out. Moving your neck, moving your shoulders, moving your legs. Releasing. Because sometimes we really get caught into doing it perfectly, but it doesn't, it can just be very free too at the same time.

Then find Tadasana again, the perfect pose. This time, we're gonna do a back bend in a balance pose. So a Dancer's pose but a very simple version. If you can do the complicated version, go ahead and do that too. Start lifting the right leg up, right knee up, hip height and find Tadasana at first.

Then turn your right palm out and hold the inside of your foot. This is how I like doing it. It's a nice shoulder stretch as well. Inhale. You can stay here or you can start lifting your left arm up.

And at your own pace, start pushing the foot back in space and then bringing the heart a little forward in space. So it's not how high you're going, it's how good you like doing it, how much you like doing it. How good it feels and it should be feeling something. With an inhale, emphasize a little bit more of what're you're doing and then start getting out of it. Landing lightly.

Feeling the effects. And it's always an outburst of energy with back bends and that's normal. Settling it down again so that we can do it safely on the other side. Hands onto your hips, lift the left knee up. Turn the left palm out.

Hold the inside of the foot. Pause, stay, find your Tadasana. Lift the other arm if you feel like going on and then start pushing the leg back as you bring the heart forward. And just taking your time and see how much this side wants to go. And just look at a single point and just breathing here.

Spreading the toes, opening the palm. Inhaling, doing a little bit more. Going for it and then getting out of it lightly. Gently landing into Tadasana. Bringing the hands in front of your heart and closing the eyes.

Remembering that this practice is about you. It's about connecting and just being with what's happening. Feel the energy circulating through your body. Feel the breath moving through your body. It's always there and it always will be there.

The ground underneath you, it's always gonna be there. Feeling these supports around you. The air around you, turning into breath. And then opening the eyes if you haven't already. With an inhale, this time sitting deeply into Utkatasana and then going into Uttanasana.

Lifting those hip bones up, inhale up halfway and then exhale, Down Dog. With your next inhale, bring the shoulders on top of the wrists and then come all the way down at your own pace. And from here, roll onto your back. And bend your knees and bring your feet in front of your hips. And then the arms are beside the body.

When you feel ready, start pushing your feet into the ground and lifting the hips up. But do it more from your legs rather than from the buttocks. So just feel that as if you're holding a block in between your legs. And feel the insides of your feet grounding down. And you can use your arms a little bit, you can clasp them behind you and bring your shoulder blades closer to each other and just feel the feet a little bit more.

Breathing again, of course you're breathing but just being aware of it right now. And then take your arms away, out of the way, and just bring your spine down bit by bit. Settling the back of your pelvis, feeling that moment of when everything is down and how it relaxes softly. You can go on with doing this two more times if you want or if you wanna try Urdhva Dhanurasana. What I do is I spread my feet a little bit wider than hip distance, just because it's more comfortable, and then putting my hands beside my ears.

So I first start with pushing my feet into the ground and lifting my hips as if I'm doing a Setu Bandhasana. And you can even practice this with your hands beside your ears. Not too close but a little bit away from your ears. And then at your own time, with an inhale, maybe putting the top of your head down or even start pushing yourself up and pushing the feet into the ground to bring the front of the heart towards where you're looking. Then lifting your head up, chin comes close to the heart, and then bring the back of your head gently down and pause.

Holding yourself with your palms. Breathing here. Feeling your breath, feeling the sensations. It's a very big pose. If you feel like going on and doing another one, I'll also lead you through it.

You can do a Setu Bandhasana or just rest here if you feel like it. Hands besides the ears, not too close, a little bit further away from the ears, feet grounding, pushing the feet into the ground. That's the reason the hips come up. And then shoulders moving away from the ears. That brings the shoulder blades a little closer to each other.

Then with an inhale, start pushing yourself up and then the heart moving. Now you don't know what forward is but wherever you're looking, just bring your heart there. And then push the feet into the ground and then chin up, gently bringing yourself all the way down. Landing lightly and holding yourself, feeling whatever's happening. Feeling the energy circulating in your body.

Maybe even closing the eyes. Feeling the movements of life happening within you wherever you are. The breath, the heartbeat, the thoughts, the feelings. They're all a a part of movement of life. And then opening the eyes.

To balance this, we'll be lifting the legs. Even this is a good balance but just to make it even better, bring your arms back and with your exhale, start lifting your arms up and then lift the front of the heart up. And just like feeling the front of your body, the front of your belly, lifting you up and down. Just so that it balances the muscles, the muscle stretch. You can even bring one leg close, the other leg away.

But do this slowly so that you can feel the change in sensations. Maybe one more time each side. And then lift them up, bend the knees, bring your head down and just rest. Moving yourself side to side. And when you're ready, we're gonna do Halasana.

It's just a natural transition. You can just stay with your legs up or if you wanna go on with Halasana, bring your hands beside you and start lifting the legs, push with the hands to lift the hips up. You can bend your knees and hold your back with your hands. Just staying here or you can start stretching the legs as much as possible. You can clasp the hands behind you or not, it's up to you, and just staying here and make sure your neck doesn't hurt where you are.

If it does, you can come down and just lift your legs up. Breathing here. And when you're ready, if you want to you can hold your ankles or your legs, and start coming down slowly or hold your back and bring yourself slowly down. Feel your back touching the ground. And then when you land, bend your knees, bring your feet into the ground.

You can keep your knees bent or you can spread your feet to the sides of the mat. Bring your arms to the sides and do a twist. I'm doing an open twist now. You can keep the knees together if you want. Inhale to the center and then exhale, knees to one side and head to the other.

And you can do this two times if you want to on each side. And when you feel ready to, go into Shavasana. You can either stay with knees bent. This is what I will do in constructive rest. Or you can just spread yourself on the mat into Shavasana.

Whenever you're ready to, close the eyes. You're gonna go on holding yourself if that feels right for you. And just being present to whatever's happening. You can stay here if you want to if you feel you need to stay longer. Or if you feel you're ready to get up and sit in a meditation seat, start moving.

Gently rolling onto one side. Keeping your eyes closed or opening them at your own pace. And then coming up if you feel that's right for you. And just settling into a seat. And holding yourself again, your hands holding the heart, the belly, the areas that we've been stretching and just being with them.

Breathing with them. Moving. Watching the movement. Giving yourself a little snuggle, a little hug, if you feel like it. This lovely thing that's happening right now.

Opening your eyes whenever you feel like it. Putting your hands in front of you heart. And while I was in Shavasana, I remembered a quote from again, my favorite poet, Rumi, and he says, "The entire universe is within you." And every cell carries all that information so for me heart opening is actually opening to that fact. That everything I'm looking for is right here within and I hope this practice helps you open your heart to that fact like it did for me. Thank you.


Ayzen A
3 people like this.
Love love love the video, I have been missing practising with Zeynep, thank you YogaAnytime
Marleen R
2 people like this.
Lovely practice and so helpful to be reminded to feel and be grateful for what my body is doing in any moment
Thank you Zeynep
Zeynep Celen
Dear Ayzen, thank you so much for watching and practicing with me, I am glad you enjoyed it. Hope to see you soon? :)
Zeynep Celen
Dear Marleen, thank you so much for your comment.

It is very important for me to sense the body and become aware of its amazingness even in the most subtle movements, I am glad it resonated through the video and reached you.
Thank you for practicing with me.:)
Suna Y
2 people like this.
Dear Zeynep, I didn't have the chance to catch up with you in Istanbul. It was nice to share a practice with you online. Thanks and namaste!
Zeynep Celen
Thank you Suna, I hope we do meet next time! Until then, hope the videos keep you connected :)
See you!
Elissa P
3 people like this.
The most amazing thing just happened while I did this practice. I live out in the high desert sagebrush of Eastern Oregon, and in my solo wanderings, I've been finding many antler sheds this season.... and collecting them on the rail of my deck - which I face while practicing (looking outside). And, while doing this practice, this mountain bluebird... she landed on an antler and just settled there, facing me, fluffed out and chill, bird to human .... I was in Tadasana and just... couldn't move. She was so close and so beautiful and so .... relaxed and okay with being that close to me. Tears just starting rolling down my face... the beauty of it all, the feeling of connection, the feeling of crossing into another world of no fear between species.... Your video, and thus your voice, continued to go on while I just stayed very still, hands over my heart, soaking in the grace feeling. It was... really beyond description, a rare treasure of a moment.
Phuong E
1 person likes this.
It was lovely to “feel the movements of life” with you this morning. Thank you!
Jenny S
1 person likes this.
Revisiting this after a far-too-long absence...remembering your sweet, gentle approach which makes my heart swell. Feeling relaxed, expansive and happy. Namaste Zeynep 🙏🏻❤️
Zeynep Celen
1 person likes this.
Elissa Dear Elissa, what an amazing experience you have shared on this thread, so sorry I missed it before (it was right around the time I gave birth so I was not online). Thank you for sharing it and for practicing with me. We really are surrounded by the grace and magic of Life. And yoga unravels it much clearer. Just imagining it made me feel it... With Love, Zeynep
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