Ashtanga Jump Through Tips

Downward Dog Front View
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The jump through in Ashtanga practice begins in downward dog. You keep your hands planted on the ground and your legs pass under your body and through your arms to arrive directly into a seated position, sometimes with the legs outstretched and sometimes crossed, depending on where you are in the sequence. In the Ashtanga primary series, this transition is repeated many times as it is how you are supposed to arrive in each seated posture. The basic technique is to bend your knees and cross your ankles while coming through the arms and then re-extend the legs on the other side. It may not sound too complicated until you try it and realize that your feet are in the way (or, as some claim, your arms are too short).

If it seems like everyone else in your studio does it easily while you're just getting frustrated, you're not alone.

Build Strength

It helps to think of the jump through as an arm balance. In fact, the most advanced version of this transition takes you from downward facing dog up into a handstand before slowly lowering the legs to a standing or seated position. As such, it requires a lot of abdominal strength. Work on strengthening your core to improve your jumping.

Pendent pose (lolasana) is another pose to work on. It basically freezes the jump through at its most crucial moment when the ankles are crossed and the knees are hugging into your belly. Working on this pose will build your core and give you the feeling for slightly doming your back to make more room for your legs underneath.

Tips

Ashtanga master David Swenson offers two tips that may make all the difference:

  1. Instead of crossing the legs at the ankle, cross them higher, at the shin. This makes the package you are trying to move through your arms much more compact.
  2. Flex the feet. This prevents your feet from getting caught on the arms as you sail past.

Voila!

Or not. As Swenson wisely points out, whether or not you can jump through is of little consequence. This is not the point of Ashtanga practice, nor will it make you a better Ashtangi, pay your rent, or feed the world. Some people may never be able to jump through. So try not to worry too much about acquiring this skill.

And, by the way, with very few exceptions, no one's arms are too short.