Ashtanga yoga is the practice of self-discovery. In the ashtanga practice, jumping through and jumping back is one of the hardest moves that a beginner will encounter. It is commonly used as a transition from one posture to another, to flow smoothly with composure is to fly.
Between the two, jumping through is easier. Start in Downward-Facing Dog, shift your weight to your arms and jump through between them, either with straight legs or knees bent. The flow will come naturally unlike jumping back. Jumping back requires familiarizing yourself to the technique before you can actually flow to it. Both jumps teach patience and self-awareness of what’s happening internally.
But why does it seem impossible?
There are several physical aspects that hinder you from flying in your jump back and jump through. But do not be discouraged! This can be developed as you get deeper into the practice. Put your mind and heart into it and you will be unstoppable!
You’re not strong enough. It could be weak arms that can’t hold your weight, a core that isn’t strong enough to lift the hips away from the ground, hip flexors that won’t allow you to tuck your knees to your chest, tight shoulder and chest muscles limiting your range of motion and weak muscles on the back which allows your torso to fly as you bend your arms on a jump back.
Bad habit. If you already have the strength and flexibility needed but you still can’t flow smoothly, the problem could be on bad technique. It could be the mistake of placing your hands parallel to your hips. Another bad habit is being unable to do the whole jump back and landing halfway through and jumping again to finish the approach in a plank position. Or it could be that you’re bending your arms too early. In order to create space and lift your back, your weight should be placed in front of your hands and working out the rhythm and timing of when to bend your arms is crucial.
Flow smoothly. To jump back from a seated position with your legs crossed, plant your hand on the ground between the hips and feet. Don’t place your hand beside the hips; it’ll make shifting your weight forward harder. Inhale as you lift yourself off the ground. Feel your weight shifting to the foundations of the shoulders, and to your chest. Squeeze your core, stabilize your pelvis on the floor. Bend your arms once your ankles are aligned to your wrists and jump! Extend your legs back together. Use your triceps to support your weight in chaturanga dandasana. Inhale in Upward-Facing Dog and release into Downward-Facing Dog.
This simple transition develops strength both to the body and the mind. Jumping with composure and grace doesn’t only make the flow visually beautiful, but to fly smoothly and free yourself from self-doubts makes the practice more personal.
The practice of ashtanga Yoga is physically and mentally demanding. But internalizing the practice allows it to open to you and the possibilities from within. This is empowering. The journey to self-discovery won’t be easy. Keep practicing. Never stop learning. Always be patient with yourself and move with awareness.