How to jump back and through is something most Astanga Vinyasa students want to conquer. Having studied in Mysore at the Astanga Yoga Institute, I know it wasn’t something Patthabhi Jois was not concerned with, he was most interested in your commitment to the practice. That said it can be very rewarding when you crack it, as it was for me as well.
After many years of practice, and trying very hard, I learnt about the subtlety of the technique. Trying hard is necessary, but the trying hard needs to be controlled and precise. Occasionally you get a new student who can jump through, but most need to develop the strength and technique. I know as I was one of those students. And I know that having to understand the process has helped me evolve in other areas in yoga as well, so it has served me well.
Now let’s look at the technique. It requires strength, flexibility and belief. I hear a lot of reasons why we can’t lift and jump back and through, such as my arms are too short, but I think in most cases it comes down to self-belief. If we apply the proper techniques, combined with the strength, then I believe we are all capable of lift off.
So in order to jump through from standing we need to make ourselves as small as we can. We need to keep the knees tucked up against the chest as we jump through all the way through to sitting. That requires strong and flexible Psoas muscles. To be able to keep the backside off the floor as we start to swing through between the legs requires a strong upper body, but also we need to develop the Lats and have a good connection with our pelvic floor When the legs start to come through in front of the body we need strong abs to lift the front of the pelvis to stop it collapsing, and the legs with it.
Jumping back from seated I personally think is a bit harder to accomplish, but is a very similar technique. Lifting away from the floor from seated does require upper body strength, but also requires a good awareness of our pelvic floor. “Feeling a lift starting from the perineum that draws up through the abdominal cavity and up through the middle of the shoulder blades will draw the centre of the body up away from the floor. At the same time we need to push down through the palms of the hands, feeling a line of energy running up through the outside of our arms will initiate the lats. All this combined together will give us lift off, then we simply tilt the chest forward and take the legs back and we end up in press up”.
Learning this technique is a very personal journey, but at the end of the day it is the practice that counts. There are a number of classes where we build for the technique. Look here.