Watch the video: Jump Throughs with Kino MacGregor
When I first started practicing Ashtanga Yoga both the jump back and jump through that are hallmarks of the traditional Ashtanga vinyasa between postures were a complete mystery to me. No one could explain how to learn them.
Over the last 15 years of practice, though, I’ve developed a step-by-step method to practicing and teaching these foundational movements. Once you begin to feel steady progress in the jump backs and jump throughs, you will feel a dramatic shift in the level of strength and endurance throughout your entire practice. More than just a physical portion of the practice, the vinyasas between each posture represent a journey into spiritual fortitude that every Ashtanga Yoga practitioner must embark upon.
The good news: Jumping through is much easier than jumping back for new students to master! The first key to the action is breaking the movement down into small, digestible portions that make sense for your body and your mind. By understanding the technique and alignment required for each step, you will be increasing your awareness of the minute, subtle details of the physical and the inner body. It is this heightened sensitivity that will give you the courage to stay the course through this challenging movement.
Step 1: Prepare Your Shoulders
Start in Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog). Then roll forward into Plank Pose with your hands shoulder-width apart. In Plank, broaden across your shoulder blades and externally rotate your arms and shoulders to engage the muscles of the rotator cuff. Then pitch your shoulders forward, aligning them over the center of your palms. Straighten your arms while pressing into the base of your thumbs, the knuckles of your index fingers, and your middle fingers and gripping the floor with your fingertips.
Step 2: Engage Your Core
Engage your core by firming your lower abs, activating your pelvic floor, and rounding your spine into a deep flexion supported by the strength of the front body. To test your level of strength move from plank to high plank. Spread the shoulder blades even more, draw the lower ribs in, pull the abdominals into towards the center line, drag the pubic bone forward toward the chin while reaching your chest up and forward. From this point you are ready to begin the jump through.
Step 3: Swing One Knee Through
Walk your right foot forward, point your toes, and send your right knee in between your arms in front of your wrist. Keep rounding your back and maintaining the spinal flexion while staying connecting to the lift from below of your pelvic floor and abs.
Step 4: Halfway Point
Next walk your left foot forward, cross your shins, and point both knees between your arms to come to the hallway point. Keep your hips just a little lower than your shoulders. If they’re too high, you won’t be able to complete the movement. If they’re too low, your hips will sink into the floor. This halfway point is crucial in determining the success of the jump through.
Students that never learn to hold their weight here will often use “cheats” like blocks or lifting the wrists to jump through. While this halfway point bears some similarities to Lolasana (Pendant Pose), there are two crucial differences. First, the shins are crossed to allow for an easy and more seamless transition to seated. Second, beginners should not worry about lifting their feet off the ground. Instead, for now, simply focus on keeping your body supported from below.
Challenge Step: Halfway-Point Hover
Eventually you will be able to jump forward into the halfway point and keep both of your feet off the ground, but don’t worry about that too much from the start. Build up the principles of the movement and let your body build strength and stamina at its own pace over time.
Step 6: Walk Through
From the halfway point prepare, create space from the center of the torso by engaging your abdominals and spreading your shoulders even more. Don’t attempt to do this movement in one fluid sweep from the start. Instead begin by wiggling your toes and moving your right foot a few inches forward. Then move your left toes and inch them forward.
Step 7: Straighten Your Legs
Continue inching forward until your legs are straight. Keep your hips elevated and avoid the temptation to settle them onto the floor. Let it take however long it takes and do not give up. Watch your inner dialogue and if you start to feel like your arms are too short or your body is to heavy, pause, take a breath and see if you can find a little more strength and space for the movement.
Once both legs are straightened out in front, your body will be in an L-shape with your hips lifted and feet touching. Hold this position for a moment and then exhale to settle your hips onto the floor.
Step 8: Hold the L-Shape
If your feet got stuck or you fell out of the movement, you can always hold the L-shape for a breath or two to build up your strength. You will eventually be able to float directly from the halfway point to the L-sit position with both your feet remaining off the ground the entire time. But in the beginning just focus on maintaining the continuity of the movement pattern.
Step 9: Repeat 1,000 Times
The more that you work on this, the better. Don’t worry about jumping through. Start off by breaking the transition down into these small bits and learning how to walk through. Breathe freely through the movement when learning. Eventually you will inhale to bring the feet forward to the halfway point and through and exhale to settle the hips onto the floor. Just as in life you have to learn how to walk before you learn how to jump, allow the process of walking through build up strength tempered with humility.
See also Why Can’t I Master the Jump-Through?
About Kino MacGregor
Kino MacGregor is a self-professed Handstand lover (just check out her Instagrams). She’s also a Pattabhi Jois-certified Ashtanga Yoga teacher who travels worldwide, author of three books, featured in six Ashtanga Yoga DVDs, and co-founder of Miami Life Center, where she and her husband Tim Feldmann are based.