Jumping back and jumping through in the Ashtanga Yoga practice is one of the magical movements that seem acrobatic and often impossible to most new practitioners. I have had the rare occasion of working with a student who jumps back and through on their first try. This is really the exception rather than the rule. I struggled for many years before I could regularly perform this movement and I am still refining it today.
Out of the two movements jumping through is definitely easier than jumping back. When you start off in Downward Facing Dog you can literally jump through by bending your knees and jumping your body weight forward. This is both a blessing and a curse. Many students who try to do this whole movement with the power and force of their momentum end up cheating in ways that prevent the true development of strength in the body.
The Most Common Mistakes
For example, if you apply a lot of force when you jump forward from Downward Facing Dog it is easy to lift the wrists a little to compensate for that powerful thrust. Another mistake that people make is trying to jump too high without having the control through the core strength of the body to facilitate the movement all the way through the arms. The biggest obstacle for people learning how to jump through is that they try to jump through.
Learning To Jump Through Step-By-Step
So many things can go wrong during the “jump” that it is easier to break the movement down into small, digestible components and just “walk” your legs through your arms. This is the way I learned to jump through and it is the easiest way for students of all levels to learn this movement.
- Starting off in Downward Facing Dog walk your feet forward so that the knees point in between the arms, the shins are crossed, the toes are pointed and the tops of the feet are on the ground. Keep the wrists flat, the belly sucked in and the shoulders engaged.
- Then wiggle or walk one foot all the way through the arms, taking as many breaths as you need.
- Next walk the other foot all the way through the arms until both legs are stretched out in front.
- Finally, sit the butt on the floor.
This deceptively simple movement teachers you humility, patience and perseverance. If you orient your mind towards achieving the goal of jumping through you will often fail, but if you let go of the need to jump through and surrender into the process of walking the goal is not far away. Yoga is a zen riddle that teaches you through direct experience of the non-linear path of spiritual learning. Walk through your arms and discover true strength along the way.