i remember the first time in ashtanga i saw someone do a seated jump back – i was truly mesmerized. later, that fascination became more a playful obsession.
today, it’s still a work in progress and although i hear no one gets “stopped” in the practice for not having mastered, it is just one of those things many of us still aspire to achieve.
anyway, yeah – there’s a certain skill set you need first: arm strength, core strength, and open hips. but that’s kind of all. it’s a myth about the short arms. i know because i’ve got ’em. but if you can check off those three pre-requisites and are willing to work at it, here’s three tricks that helped me get over the hump:
momentum is your friend
start in a tight navasana position with arms straight in front of you and hands on mat.
inhale as you extend – the exhale will take you back.
for greater momentum, try extending the legs fully and then as you pull the legs in towards the body – counter swing the chest forward.
kind of like a teeter totter is supported by a fulcrum at the center – so are you.
the fulcrum is your forearms and distance from the center matters. pulling everything in as close to the fulcrum/center as you can will make not only make balance easier, but it will require less strength as well.
my right leg is stronger, so i cross right ankle over left and pull that right heel into my body tight.
you also need to consider the mass on both sides. so as the hips go back and up – the chest must go forward and down. this can feel scary but trust the physics of it.
finally – stay low. in other words, land in chaturanga.
i watch way too many people try to land in high plank. for the average schmo, that’s just not possible – most of us simply don’t have the strength that would take to lift our hips high enough.
and frankly, i just don’t want to work that hard either.
the three things that will keep you from belly flopping? gaze forward and up, belly lifted, legs engaged.
here it is in action: