Mastering the Jump-Through
Tim Miller's reply:
This is a question I get all the time and a source of frustration for many who watch their fellow students gliding gracefully through their arms while they feel themselves crash and burn. Some are convinced that their arms are too short, others that their legs are too long. Meanwhile, the toes and the egos suffer.
One of the key things to keep in mind is that the legs are longer than the arms. In order for the legs to come through the arms successfully they must be as parallel to the floor as possible while in flight. The most common mistake I see is that students keep their hips high as they jump so the legs remain too vertical.
To build a sense of confidence and competence, first try this maneuver with blocks under the hands. From Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog), exhale and bend the knees deeply so the ribs come back against the thighs, lift the heels and allow the hips to descend. Keep the hips as low as possible as you spring forward. Ideally, the body stays in a full forward bend even as it comes through the arms.
Remember to support the movement with your breath. Jumping through at the end of an exhalation, when you are completely empty of breath, is best because the exhalation also facilitates deeper movement into the forward bending position. You will also find strength and support by engaging the abdomen and pelvic floor in Uddiyana (Flying Up Lock) and Mula Bandha (Root Lock). So as you set yourself up to jump through, remember to exhale, keep the bandhas engaged, remain in forward flexion, and stay close to the ground.
One final tip: The practice surface can also be a factor. A surface that is either too soft or too sticky can present problems. Most people find it easiest to do this on a hardwood floor, and some even wear socks to help their feet slide through.
Tim Miller has been a student of Ashtanga Yoga for over twenty years and was the first American certified to teach by Pattabhi Jois at the Ashtanga Yoga Research Institute in Mysore, India. Tim has a thorough knowledge of this ancient system, which he imparts in a dynamic, yet compassionate and playful manner. For information about his workshops and retreats in the United States and abroad visit his Web site, www.ashtangayogacenter.com.