Jumpbacks and Jumpthroughs: Easy as 1-2-3

The elusive jumpback and jumpthrough feels like a pipe dream for most Ashtanga yoga students, right? That effortless and dreamy float, bringing our legs back and through our arms, both mesmerizes and taunts us. And yet, convinced we will never – ever be able. With arms too short, a body too big, or simply not the strength or flexibility to maneuver – most of us will give up in our mind without ever giving our bodies the slightest of a chance. But what if I told you: You can do this. That learning this tricky transition really IS as simple as 1-2-3? (And maybe, 4).

I asked my daughter Meghan to explain the process she went through to learn. After all, if you follow my IG, you’ll see – she’s quite the pro these days.

And this is exactly what she said:

  1. Get injured.
  2. Get injured again.
  3. Find something you love (and doesn’t hurt) to focus on.
  4. Focus on what you love and CAN do – instead of what hurts and you can’t.

Not exactly helpful? Just wait … don’t leave yet. There’s wisdom in all this. I promise.

#1 Hit Pause: There is no try – only NOT do.

It sucks to get hurt. I get it, because I’ve been hurt enough to know. Problem is, most of us will put all our energy into ‘fixing’ the ‘broken’ parts, treating the injury as an enemy we need to conquer. That means we take an area of our body already holding an enormous amount of negativity and unhappiness and then we go ahead and inflict even more unhappiness into the area in our combative attempt to DO something about it.

Here is where the practice of NOT doing comes in real handy. Unfortunately, for those of us more stubborn – this may take multiple (painful) lessons.

For Meghan, the pain began in her hamstring. So you can imagine how great Primary Series felt, eh? Every morning, this is where her mind went – to where her body hurt. And every morning, this is where her energy went – trying to fix it.

Then went her wrist. Same side. I don’t think she’d mind me telling you this – but she spent a solid few days begin totally pissed off. She couldn’t do anything in her practice now. Which turned out to be a good thing …

“If we can press the pause button and take each crisis as an opportunity to break out of self-limiting habits, our ordinary suffering can become the mother of extraordinary wisdom.” (Joe Loizzo, Sustainable Happiness)

We all have habits. Partly, these habitual patterns are what help us move forward and flow through our day. Natural as this may be, there are times we need to be woken up out of our trance. Because sometimes these patterns are performed less out of efficiency and more from a dull, sleepy mind. Pain can be the alarm that wakes us up – and sits us down.

#2 Find Motivation: Give the dog a bone.

Here’s what pain doesn’t do: move us in a positive direction. Pain teaches us what not to do. And why discipline tactics such as spanking kids and animals for mistakes might make them stop in the moment, it does nothing to help or teach them anything except what pain and fear feel like. Any change in behavior is simply a change to avoid punishment.

No, there’s no positive motivation in punishment and pain. No enthusiasm to move forward. And no direction even, on which way to go. Only love can do all of that. So next up is find something you love, follow that path, and see where it takes you.

Meghan has always loved the transitions in the yoga practice most. (Clearly you’re a fan as well or else you wouldn’t be here, right?) This became her motivation for practice. A shift in her attention. Retraining her mind from focusing on what she couldn’t do by using joy as her guide. So transitions it was!

#3 Practice Different: Retrain the mind, retrain the body.

Oh yeah. There was that pesky wrist pain getting in the way. But what she found was in slowing down her movements and being completely present and mindful, Meghan was able to move through in a way that brought no pain at all. Actually, she got the idea from watching Eddie Stern break down the process in his Introduction to Primary video series on One World Yogis.

We talk about this in Episode 31 of the Ashtanga Dispatch Podcast

Movement by movement, Meghan broke each step down, only doing what she was able and what felt good in her body. I watched how much effort and unbelievable discipline of the mind it took for her to stay so incredibly present. You could almost see her override switch, the focus it took to keep her from following old habits – and build new ones.

Honestly? She motivated me to do the same. And of course, this is what you’ve come here for, right? It’s why we shell out money to attend workshop after workshop … watch countless how-to videos on YouTube and Instagram … and beg the masters of float to share with us their secrets. We want to know to train out bodies to do the same.

But that’s not how it works. Because first, we must retrain the mind. We have to wake up and hit the pause on sleepy patterns. Let joy and love take over, staying mindfully present in each waking moment.


Transitions: A Step-by-Step Process

Jumpbacks

1. Pull knees tightly into chest without hands. This is really hard work! Alternate legs each time.

2. Pick something up off the ground. Don’t worry if only your butt comes up. Eventually, you can lift a foot, then another.

3. Shuffle feet behind hands. Maybe come to your knees to bring hands forward. Stay present! Don’t let the mind quit here!

4. Jump or step to chaturanga. Or move to high plank and then lower. Move back to a place that feels good for you right now.

 

Jumpthroughs

1. Bring one foot forward, alternating each time – staying lifted.

2. Bring second foot forward. Pause. This position is critical.

3. Shuffle feet through hands, trying to stay lifted. If you end up plopping down, no worries. The benefit is in the trying!

4. Staighten legs to sit down – draw your bellow back as your legs move forward.

See? Wasn’t that easy? Now YOU try!