Want to fly? You’re just seven steps away. Yoga teacher Sadie Nardini’s secret to floating to the front of your mat in vinyasas is softening into your power. Try her practice-revolutionizing technique.
We’re often taught to straighten the limbs and squeeze the muscles to the bone. But when jumping forward from Downward Dog in a Sun Salutation, you’ll gain more lift if you bend your limbs rather than making them rigid. “You have to soften into power,” explains Brooklyn-based Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga founder Sadie Nardini who taught her fresh perspective on yoga jumps at Yoga Journal LIVE! Estes Park.
A self-described anatomy geek, Nardini says the laws of physics inspired this practice. Bending your arms before straightening them, she says, is the key to propelling yourself through the air with the least effort and joint compression and the most grace possible. Nardini cites Newton’s laws of motion—particularly that for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction. “Nature is teaching us yoga all the time,” she says. “Bending your arms as you press down creates acceleration downward into the earth and then you get a bounce, or rebound effect.”
When you jump, Nardini suggests you relax most of your outer body muscles—concentrate on pressing your hands down and on hugging the pelvic floor and low belly muscles in and up. “Focus on the inner body, and use the power of physics to propel yourself up,” she says.
Ride that wave to leap lightly forward. At the very least, this technique will tone and strengthen your arms, core and courage.
Begin on all fours. Bend your elbows, hovering your forearms above the mat. Soften down and prepare for the power.
On a strong exhale, press your arms straight while engaging your pelvic floor and low belly up away from the mat, as you relax the rest of your muscles.
“Focus on the inner body—what I call the ‘deep core line’ of muscles like pelvic floor, diaphragm and psoas—and use the power of physics to propel yourself up,” Nardini says.
Come into Bent Dog, bending your knees and elbows as you press your torso back toward your legs to prepare for the powerful rebound effect.
Practice Piked Plank. On a strong exhale, press your arms straight and lift up your pelvic and low-belly muscles, establishing the earth-to-core connection. Practice moving from Bent Dog to Piked Plank a few times.
From Bent Dog, get ready to try your pikes, jump-forwards, or “shakti kicks,” as Nardini calls them. Keep your big toe mounds pressing together. Inhale and prepare in this position by bending your arms and legs deeply. ”You have to really bend down to spark the rebound effect,” Nardini says.
Exhale and hop lightly, straightening your arms, as you press your hands down and lift your pelvic floor and low belly up. Bring your heels toward your sitting bones. “Don’t jump very hard,” Nardini says. “The harder you jump, the heavier you’ll get.”
Made it? If you get there, your hips might balance over your hands with your heels pulled in toward your sitting bones. Don’t rush toward the more classical straight-leg jumps. Instead, master the knees-bent version first.
To come out of the pose, keep your belly lifted and hands pressing down as you slowly lower your feet to the floor between your hands.