The Vinyasa Show Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 5

Heart Centered Flow

45 min - Practice


Embrace your inner child with a playful sequence of cobra, low lunges, and deep heart openers. We work towards Kapotanasana (King Pigeon), Ustrasana (Camel), and Danurasana (Bow) to find more space in the chest and make room for the heart to blossom. This practice promotes heat in the body and inspiration in the heart center.
What You'll Need: Mat

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Welcome back. Today's heart-centered flow. We're going to do lots of lunges, I call them lovely lunges, and lots of heart openers, aka known as back bands, and absolutely no chaturangas in this practice. So before we start, I want you to close your eyes and envision your five, six-year-old self, and envision how that five, six-year-old is standing. And I know personally, I don't know many five, six-year-olds who aren't standing with their heart forward, head lifted, hands at hips or hands at the side, just ready to take on the world, ready to give to the world, and ready to receive. So I'm going to ask in this practice that you take that, you embrace that energy as we move with a lot of heart forward poses. So to begin, we're going to start in full prostration on our bellies, forehead down, and you can take palms to press out in front of you, or you can go palms down. So taking a moment to center, and taking a moment to set an intention, the beauty of setting an intention before our practice is we start to set the path, we start to create our journey. So here, just allowing the earth to support you. And if it is part of your practice starting to bring in your ujjayi pranayama, slight constriction in the back of the throat, creating a soft whispering sound on both the inhale and the exhale. Your intention can be little, it could be something for the right here and now, or it could be something huge, large beyond us right here. And slowly draw the hands back by your mid red, and transitioning right back into child's pose, bring the big toes to touch. Pause right here just for a breath, and inhale, sweep up, come on to all fours. Stacking shoulders over wrists, hips over knees, and inhale, the belly drop, chest lift, start to roll the gaze up, start to roll the eyes up. Exhale, round in, tuck the belly button in, draw the chin in, draw the tail in, spine high, inhale, shoulders roll back, chest lift, exhale round. Two more, inhale, good, exhale round. Last one, inhale, good, exhale. Inhale, come back to neutral, shift the hands out two or three inches, curl the toes under, lift the hips downward facing, Adho Mukha, Svanasva. So this practice, this is going to be the highest we come off the mat today, so incredibly grounded and moving nice and slow and steady. So inhale, bring the right leg up, even hips, so the right leg lifts up as high as you can and right hip softens down. On exhale, knee to nose, shift it forward, pause so it's strong and slow. Place the foot down, left knee and shin drops down, rise up, Anjana Asana. Just pause three breaths, we're going to be going in and out of a lot of lunges, so we're going to warm up slowly with some lunges. Good, on an exhale, bring the palms back down, curl the back toes under, right back into downward facing dog. On an inhale, left leg lifts up, left leg lifts, left hip softens. Exhale, knee to nose, belly button to spine, place the foot down, right knee and shin drops, arms sweep, low lunge, also called Anjana Asana. Good, feel the hip bones lift, low ribs draw in, shoulders soften. Nice, exhale, hands down, right back into downward facing dog. Inhale, right leg lifts up. Exhale, right knee to nose, place the foot down, left knee and shin down, arms sweep up. Start to draw the right heel back, start to drag the left thigh forward, chest lifts, heart starts blossoming upward. Good, exhale, hands come back down, back into downward facing dog, just building a little bit of heat. Inhale, left leg lifts up. Exhale, knee to nose, place the foot, right knee and shin down, arms sweep up. Again, peeling hips, ribs, heart, draw the left heel back, drag the right knee forward, so you start to feel the scissoring action of the inner thighs. Exhale, hands back down, curl the back toes under, lift up downward facing dog. Taking five breaths here, sides of the neck long, shoulder blades drawing down the back. Good, torso long, belly button drawing back lightly. Getting more weight into the legs, thighs pressing back, heels pressing downward. Inhale, take the right leg up. Exhale, knee to nose, place the foot down, left knee and shin down, arms sweep up on Janayasana. So here, start to lift, feel that inner scissoring of the thighs, and on an exhale, take the right arm back, follow it with your gaze. On your inhale, draw the arm up. Exhale, left arm goes back, follow it with your gaze, so getting a nice little neck stretch. Inhale, exhales up. Exhale, right. Still lifting hip bones off that right thigh. Exhale, left. Inhale, one more each side. Exhale, nice and slow. Nowhere to get too fast. Last one. Inhale, take a pause, readjust, spin the inner upper arms back, heart lifting. Exhale, hands frame the front foot, shift the hips back, Ardahana Manasana, right toes, come back, heart towards the foot. So checking in, sit bones over the knee plane. Nice, slowly slide forward, and then as you do, you're going to press through the hands, bring the right knee back to meet the left, walk the hands forward on a Hataasana, so a choice. Forehead can come down, right?

Notice sit bones are staying in line with the knee plane, or for some, start to take the chin forward, heart towards the floor. So for my flexy friends, careful of the low back arch, still draw the belly button in towards the spine. Good, and then slide the shoulder blades down the back, come forward onto the belly, inner thighs start to draw in. Inhale, rise up, low cobra. Exhale, release. So this is the pattern we're going to go through over and over, so there's no way, no reason to go to your fullest at first. Inhale, bend the right knee, lift up, low cobra. So playing with a bit of Kopatasana variations here, exhale, lowering down. Inhale, left knee bends, heart lifts, pause. Exhale, release. Inhale, press the palms, both knees bend. Good, and just hold an extra. Exhale, release. Press back, child's pose, only for one breath, feel that extension. Good, inhale, rise up, and as you do, let the fingertips drift behind you. Lift the chest, so a variation of Ustrasana, heart lifts. So depending on how your neck feels, you can keep chin to chest, gaze can come up, or you can start to take the head back. Good, tuck the chin in, slowly lower the sit bones down. Slide the hands forward, come right back into cat-cowl. Inhale, chest lifts. Exhale, round. Inhale, back to neutral, walk the hands two or three inches out, come back into downward facing dog. Good, when you're set, inhale, left leg lifts. Exhale, knee to nose. So slow, lower it down, right knee and chin, arms come up. Good, feel that draw back of the left heel, dragging that right thigh forward, hips lift. Exhale, left arm goes back first. Inhale, sweep it up. Exhale, right. Follow it with your gaze. Exhale, left. Exhale, right. Exhale, left. Last one, exhale, right. Exhale, let the hands come down to frame, the front foot shift, the hips back are to hanumanasana. Good, sit bones in line with the right knee plane. Inhale, come up, exhale, fold in. So always again, you can choose to be on your fingertips to lighten up from the wrist, or you can come down onto the palms. Good, slowly crawl forward, bending the left knee, place the palms, take the left knee back to meet the right. Hands down, anahatasana, heart down, throat down, or again, forehead down. Lower the chest, the throat. Good, stitch the shoulder blades on the back, slide all the way forward. Inhale, lift up, low cover, hands at the mid-rids. Exhale, release. Inhale, bend the right knee, lift up, take a little bit of a pause. Exhale, release. Inhale, left knee bends, lift the chest, so we're looking for space in the low back. Any crunching, cramping, back off. Inhale, both knees bend, chest lifts, pubic bones lifting, pubic bones pressing onto the floor. Exhale, release. Press back, one breath, child's pose. Just a sweet moment of a counter. Inhale, sweep the hands up, turn them behind you, ustrasana variation, pubic bone lifts, chest lifts. So again, either tucking the chin, taking the gaze up, or taking the head back if you can create a little shelf with your shoulder blades. When you're ready, tuck the chin, take the bum down, sweep the hands out in front, come back to a table. Inhale, chest lifts. Exhale, round. Inhale, come back to neutral, hands walk out, shift it back downward facing. Two breaths here. Inhale, right leg lifts. Exhale, knee to nose. Place the foot down, low lunge, left knee and chin and pause. On an exhale, take the arms behind you, just explore both. So for some it might be bent elbows, for some you can reach. Good. Inhale, let the arms lift. Exhale, reach them back. One more. On this exhale, let the hands come down, interlace at the back, draw the fist down. For some you might take pointer fingers down just to create that energy downward but lifting up through the chest, through the torso. Still feel that right heel draw back, left thigh draw forward. Release the hands. Come all the way down, shift the hips back. Choice one, stay with Ardha Hanamanasana. Step two, come all the way down as if you're in Ardha Virasana or trying Mukta Ekapada Paschimottanasana. Inhale, come up. Exhale, fold forward. Any knee pain come out and come back into the first option. Drawing the heart forward, still shifting the right hip back. Bully crawling up, back into Ardha Hanamanasana.

Bending the knee and then stepping back into Anahatasana. Hands go towards the corner of the mat, heart down or forehead down. Good. Feel the shoulders on your back. Feel the inner upper arm spinning towards the ceiling. And then slowly stabilizing the shoulders, come all the way forward. Hands by the mid ribs, inhale, lift up low Cobra. Exhale, release. Inhale, right knee bends, lift up low Cobra. Exhale. Inhale, left. Exhale. This one we pause. Inhale, lift both. Exhale, release. Press all the way back. Child's pose extended just for a breath. Sweep the arms back, planning, playing with your transitions. Fingertips back, heart lifts. And again, either creating the shelf or taking the head back. Exhale, slowly lower. Hands come forward back into the table. Inhale, chest lifts. Exhale, around. Come back to neutral. Walk the hands out, curl the toes under. Downward facing dog. Press the thighs back. On an inhale, left leg lifts up. Exhale, knee to nose. Place the foot down, low lunge, right knee and shin down as the arms sweep up. Exhale, both arms reach behind, right? Any shoulder mischief, start to bend the elbows and draw them down. Inhale or start to explore and notice if there's any places that you avoid. One more. Exhale. Interlace the hands, draw the fist down or take the pointer fingers down. So notice the hip wants to crunch in, see if you can lift it and draw the lower ribs back. Two more breaths. Exhale, release. Fingertips down, step back. Anahatasana. Chest down, throat down. Good. Slowly slide all the way forward onto the belly. Hands at the mid ribs. Inhale, bhujangasana, low cobra. Exhale, release. Inhale, right knee bends, heart lifts again. Space through the low back, not crunching. Exhale. Inhale, left knee bends, heart lifts. Exhale. Both knees. Good. Exhale, release. Slowly press back, child's pose. And inhale, come on up. Turn it for a variation of ustrasana. Right after this one, you can have the choice to go into full ustrasana. So slight bend in the elbows. Maybe chest starts to lift a little more. Maybe head can go back. Nice. Slowly tuck the chin. Lower the sit bones. Come back into table. Inhale, drop the belly, lift the chest. Exhale, round. Inhale, come back to neutral. Hands come out, curls toe, curl under. Downward facing dog. Good. Continue to add on in our lunges. Inhale, right leg lifts. Exhale, knee to nose and pause. Place the foot down low lunge. Sweep on up. Good. From here, bring the hands to the hips. Turn the right toes slightly out. So then the knee travels over the right middle toe. Bend the back knee. And from here you can grab on either to the foot or to the shin and kick back.

So as you kick the right sit bones moving in towards the right heel, but there's still that drag of the heel back. Drag of the thigh forward to lift. So it's a kick. And you might soften through the arm, maybe taking the hand out. Good. From here, start to draw it in. So again, you might just hold here or you could start to turn the fingertips in, bringing the heel in towards the outside of your hip. So now we're getting deeper in the quad. Let the quad start to soften down. For some, you can take the right arm behind, grabbing elbows towards each other. Chest lifting. So again, bring your awareness to the low back. Tendencies to shorten that space. See if you can lift and lengthen it. Good. Without slingshotting this back leg, release. Bring the hands down. Shift the hips back. Okay. And then moving towards Mukha Ekapada, Paschimottanasana. Folding forward. And again, see if you can bring the heart forward. Press the right hamstring into the earth and stay long through the sides of the neck. Soft through the eyes. As you crawl forward, come back into Anahatasana. Eyes line up, hands walk out, heart down. So again, remember, you can always bring the forehead down. Maybe for some, the chest might touch. Good. And slowly slide, slither on forward onto your belly. Inhale, rise up low, cobra. Good. Exhale, release. Inhale, right butt lifts. Exhale, release. Inhale, left. Find space length. Exhale, release. Inhale, rise both knees. Lift up, belly button to sternum, sternum to chest. Exhale, release. Press back, child's pose. And slowly lifting up. So a choice here, either going right into the variation of Ustrasana or sitting up. Hands can come to heart and then thumbs to the sacrum. Start to lift the chest. So pubic bone forward, heart forward. For some, you can flip the hands, fingertips up, palms press. If from here, you can reach back and reach the heels, you can also take the toes to curl under. So your choice. Find a softness in the elbows and maybe gaze up or back. Good. Chin to chest. Slowly rising up. If you're in full, rise up low back, middle back, upper back. If you're in the variation, you can bring the bum down first. Slide all the way forward, back into all fours. Inhale, belly lifts. Exhale, round. Slide the hands back out for downward facing dog. On an inhale, taking the left leg up. Exhale, knee in. Place the foot down, right knee in, chin down, arms sweep up, Andhanaasana.

Hands come down, take the left toes, turn them out towards the corner of the mat. Bend the back knee. So as you reach back, kick back. So we want to find that kick back to lift up through the chest. And let that left sit bone start to drop in towards the heel. Good. And then if you'd like start to draw it in, it might just be a draw in, staying on top of the right knee cap or start to flip your fingertips to face forward towards the outer edge of your hip. Maybe adding in both hands, elbows draw in. So the heel comes a little bit closer into the body. He's trying not to slingshot. Release, hands come down. Lift the left knee, line it up, anahatasana. Heart back on down to the floor. Slide it all the way forward, low cobra. Hands come to the mid ribs, lift up. Good. Exhale, release. Right knee bends, lift and pause. Exhale. Inhale, left knee. Exhale. Inhale, both. Feel a big press, maybe feeling a little bit more warm where you can lift the heart up a little higher. Exhale, release. Press back one breath, child's pose. Sweep the arms back.

So your choice here, flipping again into the variation of ustrasana or for some, rising up, stacking hips over knees, thumbs to sacrum or palms, fingertips up and press the pubic bone forward. Press the heart up. So don't worry about who going back. We want to lift up as if someone has a little string attached to your heart. So in this pose, bring back that five, six year old self, right? Heart forward, head lifted. So choice to stay here or start to take the hands down. Toes can be tirled under or not. The gaze can be up or back. Slowly rising up. Low back, middle back, head is the last to rise. Sit on back, sweep the arms forward onto all fours. Inhale, heart lift. Exhale, round. Come back to neutral hand slide out, curl the toes under. Downward facing dog. One more round going just a little bit deeper. On an inhale, take the right leg up. Exhale, knee to nose. Place the foot down, low lunge. Arms sweep up. On an exhale, bring the left hand down. So we're going to turn it into a lunge twist with the back knee, back shin down. Bend the back knee, reach back. If you can, pinky side to start and kick back. Find that kick to open up the twist. Good from here, switch the grip. Thumb down. Thumb to the inside of your foot. And then start to draw it in and start to dip down. So taking the forehead towards the floor. So it might be right here and that might feel like enough. For some, your exhale, lower all the way down. Inhale to rise. Kick back to open into that twist. Good. Exhale, lower. Good. Inhale, lift. Kick on back. Exhale, lower. This one, hold. And if you're holding, you can take forearm down, forehead down, both. So it should feel like a strong stretch through the left quad. Good. So from here, slowly release the back leg. Bring the right arm inside. And then start to bring down both forearms. So if this is not available, stay up on the hands. So again, we're feeling like we're dragging this left thigh forward. Draw the right knee in towards the shoulder and you might stay right here into lizard pose. For some, come down onto the forearms and pause. So even if you let the head go, the heart's still coming forward. So staying right here or press down on the top of the foot as if you're dragging that left foot forward. Again, blooming, blossoming forward. Another three breaths. Exhale, left knee down. Slowly walk it back up. Frame the foot. Take the right knee back to meet the left. Walk the hands back. Anahata. So anahata is our heart chakra. Right in the center there. Moving towards the floor. So as we're bringing in our five, six year old self, moving from that heart space. On an inhale, slowly coming all the way forward. Low cobra. Inhale. Good. Exhale. Inhale, right knee bends. Again, choosing fingertips or palms. Lift the chest. Draw the shoulders back. Exhale. Inhale, left.

Good. Exhale, release. Inhale, both knees bend. Chest lifts and pause, right? Maybe you can tickle the back of your head with your feet. Maybe. Exhale, release. Press all the way back. Child's pose. Swooping up again. Choosing the variation with the fingertips here or rising up, stacking hips, knees, shoulders in a line. Ustrasana. Press the pubic bone forward. Lift the heart. Right heart wide open. Ready to face the world. Ready to receive from the world. Choosing, taking hands back or not. So check in with the hands back. Give a little micro bend through the elbows. Just to keep that safe. Again, you choose with the head. Good. Tuck the chin. Slowly rise all the way up. Sitting back as your hands sweep in to all fours table. Drop the belly, lift the chest. Exhale, round. Hands come back out. Curl the toes under downward facing dog. Left side. Inhale, left leg lift. Exhale, knee to nose. Place the foot down, right knee and shin to the floor. Arms sweep up. Good. From here, hands come down. Right hand down. Left arm up. Turn it into a twist. Start to let the left hip sit bone move towards the left heel. From here, reach back. To start, go thumb up on the pinky side if you can and kick back to work the twist. Left shoulder peels back. Good. And then switch the grip. Thumb down. Thumb right in your foot. Grab the foot. Kick back. Good. Bend the right elbow. Slowly draw the left shoulder inside the thigh. Forehead comes down. Inhale, lift up, kick back. Good. Exhale, round and draw it in. Inhale. Good. Last one. This time, hold it. If you can, come down onto the forearm. Let the forehead drop down and really as if you're dragging that back thigh forward, it should be strong through your quad. Slowly release without slingshotting this back leg. Bring the left arm inside. And if you can, come down the forearms. If not, come onto the palms. Coming into lizard pose here. Draw the left knee in towards the shoulder. And then option to stay here or press down on the top of the foot. So here's where you're bringing that action again. Drag the left heel back, right foot. Whole right leg draws forward. So scissoring, drawing up mula bandha. A little bit of udiyada bandha. And then heart blossoms forward. Right side's the neck long. Slowly release. Hands down. Take the left knee back to meet the right. Walk the hands out. Heart down on a hot asana. Right, still drawing. The belly button back, still keeping the sit bones over the knee plate. And then slide it on forward. Shoulder blades down the back. Inhale, lifting up. Last round of this series, of this sequence. Inhale, right knee bends. Good. Exhale, release. Exhale, left. Slow. Inhale, bend both knees. Lift the chest. Hold this one. Right? So see if you can press the pubic bone. Lift the heart. And then use your palms to almost drag your body forward. Exhale, release. Come down onto the forearms. Bring your arms into the number 11 so you can line up wrists and elbows and shoulders right over the elbows. So coming into sphinx pose, paw at the floor a bit and draw the heart forward. So I think this is one of those poses that you can make look so sweet and so serene, but there's so much happening inside. So again, shoulders drawing down lightly. Heart pulling forward. Again, bring in that five, six year old self. Heart forward, head high. Good. Exhale, slowly release. Take the arms out. Tempt the fingers. Just give a big stretch here through the arms through the back. And then bring the arms back into that sphinx pose. So chest lifted. Take the right hand, angle it towards the left wrist. Bend the left knee. We're going to reach back for the left foot. So choice. You can take heel in, squeeze it in towards the bum. Or you can start to take fingertips forward. Ardha bhikasana. So here, draw the heart forward.

With the chest, the tendencies want to slump, but don't. Stay in. So you can start to bring the inner thighs towards each other. Keep pressing through that back foot. Keep drawing the heart forward. And then exhale, release. Nice and slow. Come back to the number 11 with the arms. Left fingertips towards the right wrist. Draw forward. Reach back. Again, for either just whatever way you can grab on to draw the heel in. Or for some, you can start to lift the elbow, rotate fingertips forward. And again, draw the heart forward. A few more breaths. Press the pubic bone into the floor. You can create a little bit more space through the belly and through the low back. Exhale, release. Good. Lying all the way on your belly. You're going to tent the fingers. Roll on to the right side as you bend the right knee. So this one, cricket pose. Not quite sure if it has an official name. You're going to lift the left foot, bring the right foot below the left knee, trying to stay away from the knee joint. Draw the chin down. Draw the elbows in. And then see if you can let the left leg get heavy. So you can feel this through your left psoas. Just two more breaths. Exhale, slowly release. Bring the forehead down as you set up the other side. Roll a little bit onto your left. Bend your left knee. Lift your right. See if you can take the left foot above the knee. Draw the chin down. Draw the arms in again like a cricket. And then let the right hip get heavy. Creating a little bit of traction through the low back. Two more breaths. Good. Exhale, release. Good. Forehead down. From here, bend the knees, drawing the heels in towards the bum. Reach back, thumbs down so you can either go on the feet. I prefer on the shins. Draw the inner thighs together because the tendency is to want to splay out. Draw them together. Inhale, lift the chest. Exhale, kick back. And just pause. Again, depending on how the neck feels, you can always take the gaze down, gaze forward, or you can start to look upward. Two more breaths. If it feels good, you can rock a little bit. You can point the toes. You can flex the feet. Exhale, release. Take one ear to the floor. We're just going to do one more. Coming back, forehead to center, bend the knees. Reaching back. So final one. Your choice if you want to bring in a stronger energy or if you just want to keep it soft. So kick back, holding here. So you can see, sustain. You're reaching back a little more. Three more breaths. Letting the breath flow in this pose. Exhale, release. Good. Slowly press back into child's pose for our counter. And this one will hold. This is going to be our final pose before we move into holding prostration, ending on our belly. So you choose here. Fingertips can be forward, arms in front. Or if it feels better, you can take arms behind. So choosing. Slowly, with each exhale releasing through the back, we did a lot through our back. And so heart openers, backbends can bring us many, many gifts, sometimes a beautiful flow of energy and sometimes it can make us feel a bit nauseated. Being with what is, what the gifts of the practice were today.

And then slowly coming forward all the way onto your belly. We're going to finish the same way that we started. Full prostration, palms pressing or palms down and forehead down. So as we begin to drop in, right now, like the 70s, not dropping out, we're dropping in. As we begin to drop in, just again embracing that five, six year old self. From that image to your mind, heart forward, head high. Ready to give to the world and ready to receive. Ready to give to the world and ready to give to the world and ready to give to the world. And if you need more time, please feel free to stay here. Not slowly bringing the hands to the back, pressing all the way up into a seat. Bringing the hands to the heart, tucking the chin, just taking a moment to bow into yourself. Thank you so much for joining me in this practice. I look forward to seeing you again soon.


Vesta L
3 people like this.
in 3rd and 4th sequence you skipped the pose on the left side that stretches the hamstring. otherwise great practice.
Alana Mitnick
Hi Vesta! Thanks for your note. Isn't Brenda great! Have you watched her Moving Towards Handstand sequence? I did the practice this morning and really enjoyed it. xo Alana
Brenda Lear
Hi Vesta, Sorry about skipping the pose on the left side. I think I had a bit of "yoga brain". I am glad you enjoyed it.
Suzanne L
6 people like this.
Hi, Enjoyed your practice this morning. Hope you are enjoying yourself this week your all your yoga. I am anxious to here all about it. Love you Mom
Brenda Lear
1 person likes this.
Thanks Mom ;)
1 person likes this.
This was very sweet! At first I wanted to do a full lung, and realized the benefits of being more gentle and slow! My lower back is thanking me this morning :)
Frederic M
1 person likes this.
Wonderful practice, I feel so open afterwards. Thanks Brenda!
Paige G
1 person likes this.
Super fun, unique, and challenging vinyasa class! A little fast for me, but it was a good challenge at reminding myself to stay with alignment, even if it takes me a little longer :) Thanks Brenda!
Alison T
1 person likes this.
So wonderful...true medicine for my body! I'd never done cricket pose before...wasn't sure I could, but the helpful cues made it accessible! Thank you.
Erika H
1 person likes this.
I loved how grounded and opening this practice made me feel! I love Brenda's presence and spirit. And, as someone who cares a lot about symmetry, the 2 missing mini-sequences on the left are such a significant omission (for me) that I'm surprised the video is still up.
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