The Blog title poster above forms part of a series of posters I made up for a book, 'Krishnamacharya's original Ashtanga Yoga', based on the public domain translation from the Tamil edition of Krishnamacharya's Yoga Makaranda (Mysore 1934) . It's available for free on my Free Downloads page above. There is a print edition on Lulu.com ( Note: It's best to buy it in print from Lulu as I can reduce the price down almost to cost rather than on Amazon where I have less control of pricing.

Sunday, 31 August 2008

Comparing Screenshot of my Jump back with Sharath, Shelly, Derek, Idoru and Rob.



I've been looking at this screenshot of my Jump back and comparing it with shots from other jump backs on you tube. this is the point where my feet brush the top of the mat. If the mats not sweaty then it will stop me dead, pull up the mat or I'll have to add an extra little hop to get through.





If I look closely I notice that I'm curled up tightly into a ball, my back is rounded and my knees up high and close to my chest. My shoulders are forward of my hips and my legs are crossed at the ankle, the right a little higher up the shin. And are my elbows pointing outwards?


Now if I look at Sharath the posture is completely different. For one thing he looks relaxed, his whole jump back appears almost effortless. This screenshot is of the same moment in the jump back, just before the feet pass the arms and go on through. His feet are higher, obviously, crossed at the ankle but closer to his backside. However his knees aren't as close to his chest as mine. His back is straighter,perhaps because of this and his whole posture less scrunched up



Similar postures from Shelly and Rob Lucas below.
















However, if we look at john Scott his knees appear higher and closer to his chest like mine, but again, his back appears longer. If the above four where on a horse we might say they sit tall in the saddle







The final two shots I looked at, Derek and Idoru are in many ways closer to mine in that they appear more rounded, tighter and yet they're clearing the mat completely and I'm not.




One thing I noticed though in all these shots are the feet. They all seem closer to their bottoms at the expense of the knees being closer to the chest and I think this might be where my difficulty lies. I've tried hard to bring my knees up higher and close to my chest and that kind of locks the feet. it's hard to pull them in closer when your focused on your knees. But if you relax your knees a little and drop back slightly it becomes easier to pull the feet in.


So try this. Lift your knees up high to your chest as you lift up with your arms but then relax the knees a little as you pull your feet in closer to your butt which begins the pivoting motion taking your hips back your shoulders forward and hopefully your feet through. This is what I'm working on at the moment, tricky getting the coordination right but think I might be on to something.


That and trying to sit taller in the saddle.

Sharath
Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series DVD w/R. Sharath


John Scott

Yoga - Ashtanga - The Primary Series John Scott

Rob Lucas


Derek Koh

(youtube video seems to have disappeared)


Idoru


Saturday, 30 August 2008

Intermediate: all you need is a manduka mat


UPDATE: My mat is in the country and being delivered Monday.
I should have waited. Wednesday I did Intermediate. Had done it up to Bakasana several times but never gone through start to finish. I admit to looking down on it a bit, I mean I LOVE primary, It's perfect, such balance. Intermediate seemed like a poor relative a bad book or movie sequel. It didn't seem that strenuous, a mish mash of half hearted jump backs and jump throughs, no flow to it.
How wrong I was! I'm still aching and I never ache from Primary. I sweated so much I was slipping and sliding all over the place, and the Jump backs! How the heck are you supposed to jump out of Matsyendrasana without veering off to the left or right and crashing through your arm or get your leg off your shoulder in time in Eka pada sirasana. Oh and one leg jump backs from Vatyanasasna, do I love THAT idea. Vatyanasana, what is that about anyway and how can you do Titibhasana C without falling over in a fit of giggles...grown yogis are not supposed to giggle.
Anyway I could hardly walk yesterday but have realized my error. Intermediate can not be attempted on any old mat It's the Manduka sequence and come tuesday morning i'll be flying effortlessly through it. My only concern is that my nine drishti's will be replaced by one, the loving gaze to my manduka drishti.

Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Using screenshots to Compare the Jump Back of Sharath, John Scott David Swenson and Lino Miele

In an earlier post
http://grimmly2007.blogspot.co.uk/2008/08/comparing-screenshot-of-my-jump-back.html

I present the Jump backs of John Scott, Sharath, David Swenson and Lino Miele via a screenshot breakdown of their respective Jump Backs. The intention here is not to suggest one is better than another but to see in detail the different approach they each take and to inspire and educate.

I am of the understanding that the nature of the screenshot as used for educational purposes comes under Fair use and does not infringe copyright, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Screenshot#Copyright_issues and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fair_use#Fair_use_on_the_Internet and have included credit below.

I would of course remove the content should it be shown that I'm mistaken and am indeed infringing copyright .

How to make your own screenshot slideshow: Download the free VLC media player from CNET. Take a video of your Jump back using your camera or mobile phone camera and upload to your computer. Open the movie with VLC. Hit play then pause and then on the video dropdown box click Snapshot. Repeat throughout the video. Upload photos to google picassa.com. Click embed slideshow and copy the embed code to your html gadget feature on your blog. I'm sure there are a lot of other ways of doing it but this worked for me.

Credits







Astanga Yoga 1st Series with David Swenson






Yoga - Ashtanga - The Primary Series John Scott









Astanga Yoga Primary Series Full Vinyasa Lino Miele









Ashtanga Yoga Primary Series DVD w/R. Sharath

Monday, 25 August 2008

Jump Back: Improving lift off



I think I worked out why I was having such a problem with my lift off and not getting the height I wanted/needed. I tended to try and lift straight up, my legs seemed so heavy and almost impossible to lift high enough to jump back through (picture on the left is how I used to approach it. Notice my arms marking a straight line from my hips to my shoulders and even my head with my legs stuck out front).




However in Utpluith (Tolasana in Swenson) I seemed to be getting so much more height. Same thing when I worked on my Lolasana. I noticed that in these two postures my shoulders were further forward counter balancing in lolasana and with my weight more central in Tolasana.













I checked the literature, Swenson has the the straight up lift in his book and I think that's where I got my original approach to the lift from. However if you look at John Scott's book,http://www.ashtanganeworleans.com/Old%20Website/StudentSection/Jump-Back-JS.htm he stresses leaning forward to lift up. This seems to make much more sense, especially for the beginner as the weight of your legs is further back closer to your arms where they are much easier to lift.


This is how I'm doing it at the moment. I'm finding it much easier to lift up allowing me to jump back through but perhaps I'm still not getting my shoulders far enough forward which might explain why I still tend to brush my toe along the mat.

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Jump back Coordination: Ujjayi and uddiyana

Have been working on Coordination in my jump back the last week or so. Had a really bad practice (see post My jump back Stinks ) where everything felt so uncoordinated that I started to think that better coordination might be where it's at.

So many things to think about in the jump back. There's the hand position, pulling the knees up, feet in, tucking in the pubic bone, trying not to over round the back, lifting sternum, engaging the bandhas, timing the breath...

Think I began to get it right in this mornings practice. The main thing seems to be timing the breath and the bandhas with the lift. This is what worked for me this morning.

Before jumping back I always lift my legs up into Navasana, inhaling, (Just became a habit that's probably good for the core, but I find it just helps to realign and focus me). Now beginning to exhale bring the Legs back, knees to chest, feet crossed and tucked in close to my backside. Lift sternum, bend the head foreword and now as your running out of breath start to engage moolah bandhas (seems to be easier at the end of the exhale), start setting up uddiyana bandha sucking in the stomach and lifting up to the ribcage as if preparing for Nauli pranayama and trying to hook the two bandhas together while pushing out the very last of the breath. Place your hands in front of your hips and as you push down on your hands Inhale Ujjayi forcefully focusing on your uddiyana and lift up and before you reach the top of your lift begin pivoting at your shoulders, sternum forward, hips back, swinging yourself back through and up and kicking your legs out and back.

Notice the long exhale pushing out every last ounce of breath and as you engage Uddiyana there's almost a vacuum, your almost gasping for breath so when the Ujjayi inhale comes ,and because it's focused on/at uddiyana, there seems to be extra energy and focus to the lift. or perhaps because your so desperate for that breath and you've linked it to your bandhas so clearly there's much clearer focus and coordination and less lost action.

This seemed to come together at the end of my practice this morning and I managed to completely clear the mat for the first time all morning. Given that I should have been tired by this point and perhaps struggling a little I think it definitely helped.

Perhaps this seems a little too aggressive an approach but figure once you have the coordination nailed you'll be able to approach it less forcefully

Thursday, 21 August 2008

Jump back: all you need is a Manduka mat


Just bought a Black Manduka 100" (240 cm) Mat from the US on ebay. Brand new, seems a yoga school closed and they found a load unopened in boxes. Think he still has a few left that are being sold cheap. Have to find them by going into ebay.com as he hasn't listed them for international sale. I just sent him a mail and checked he was happy to send it to the UK. Shipping is expensive though. The mat cost me about £30 but shipping was another £20.


Ok I know it's a lot for a mat but everybody knows that the secret to the jump back is the Manduka mat, it's all you need. I heard that mantras are chanted at every stage of production and that even the label is sewn on by a 108 year old blind shaman woman called Trixy.


But not any Manduka mat, it has to be the extra long, extra wide manduka mat that fills your whole visual field with blackness, allowing you to float effortlessly through the matty void.




Deciding factor? landing on my head in drop back (see video last post), if I'd only had my Manduka I'd have less of a bump on the top of my head.




Will let you know if it's worth the money about a week from now.


Wednesday, 20 August 2008

2 Ashtanga accident videos : Dropping back to head!

"Pride commeth before a fall" they say. (don't your just hate them), Was feeling pretty pleased with myself after nailing my drop back so quickly earlier in the week, Plus Yoga Chickie saying my practice was lovely (thank you for that, very kind) I decided to slip the drop back into my regular practice. Clearly it needs more work. Actually it's kind of reassuring, I was afraid of what might happen if it went wrong and though I hit my head my arms took most of the weight/impact, so its not going to break my neck.
video
As if that wasn't bad enough, this morning. Having just managed to get into inverted lotus, Urdhva Padmasana, for the first time without using my hands and feeling pleased with myself, again, I decided to have a go at karandavasana. Thought I'd try getting into lotus in headstand first then lift up onto my forearms and lower.....nope!
video
Luckily I had the wall behind me but have always wondered what happens if you fall forwards while still in Lotus, find that very scary, wouldn't you just come crashing down onto your knees?

UPDATE
It got better, progress post, videos from this one to 2011 including the 108 dropbacks, click on the link below.

Dropback progress : First attempt, Aug 08 to Present (108 Challenge)

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Call to Bloggers: Any old posts on your struggles with the jump back?

While reading other blogs I've typed in Jump Back in the their blog search and come across some posts or paragraphs within posts. Didn't want to appropriate them without asking and I'm sure everyone with an Ashtanga blog has at some time written a post about their Jump Back. So I was wondering if anyone would like to share an old post on their jump back. I was kind of hoping to do a post with all your quotes, dated, and of course links to your blogs if you'd like or anonymous if you prefer. Then I can archive it here next to the Jump back articles and youtube videos posts and add to it whenever I receive any more. What do you think? You can send to my email or add it as a comment which I can then paste into the post.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Jump Back's little brother, The drop back

Well they're kind of related aren't they? Couldn't think of another way to justify putting my first Drop back into a blog about the jump back.

I've been working on this for about a week, looking at youtube videos ( see the drop back playlist on my Youtube channel http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=2BC774BEFFB4F372 )



At first I tried dropping back to the wall then walking down it. Had a few goes leaning back as far as I could to see how low I could go. Today I tried a couple of supported drop backs to the sofa(Thank You Misa) very disconcerting as it seems so far away. Next I put two large Sofa cushions on the floor and dropped back on to them. Felt Quite confident as I could see the middle of the cushions

video


Next I dropped back on to one Cushion. Still felt comfortable, although I could only see the far edge of the cushion . Seem to drop back a lot faster on this one, felt less controlled.


video

Finally with more than a little trepidation I tried dropping back to the floor. Very nervous about this as the floor was a blur on the edge of my vision. Takes quite a leap of faith but after the previous two you know the floor isn't as far away as it seems. (Apologies for the lack of a shirt but I wanted to see my back as I bent back).

video

The exclamation at the end is from joy and surprise rather than from pain.

Getting back up from the backbend seems a hell of a lot harder than dropping down into it.

CAUTION: I should probably point out that I've been doing Ashtanga for a year and a half which includes, what, three floor back bends, six days a week. Ashtanga develops the core muscles which helps prepares you for the back bend and drop backs. I guess I'm saying I'm coming to the Drop back with a fair amount of preparation and I'd strongly recommend you were suitably prepared too before you "try this at home".

Saturday, 16 August 2008

My Jump backs STUNK this morning

My jump backs really STUNK this morning! Frustrated, felt like saying to hell with the mornings practice. At first I thought my mat needed washing, It seemed extra sticky. Then I thought it was my strength, was feeling a bit weak (had slipped in handstands throughout my Sury's and been working on drop backs last night). Finally decided it was my coordination and my WILL. Just wasn't very focused.

Becoming more and more aware lately that the jump back is a coordination of several elements that have to be linked and timed together perfectly (future post). Once you get it I imagine it becomes fixed and automatic. Hand placement, timing your shift of body weight, engagement of the bandhhas the inhale, focus on the knees and the (S) point (see previous post) etc. etc. and the WILL (future post). Anyway they were all over the place and I was losing motivation fast.

Tried to focus on the breath but was too irritated. Shifted to a simpler variation of jump back and that helped, decided to focus on the lolasana aspect and on some of my other asanas that were going well. Mood improved,and I began to relax into the practice, could focus on the breath more clearly again and by the end I managed to slip in a couple of half decent jump backs and a really good rise onto my forearms in headstand that proved my problems this morning weren't about strength.
Tomorrow is another practice!

Friday, 15 August 2008

Reply to comment on Jump back after Baddha konasana


Received this comment yesterday which for some reason seems to appear and disappear under Comments.


" Interested to read your blog and your previous post about baddha konasana. I notice that my best jumpback/jumpthrough is after baddha konasana, not sure if you have noticed that ? "


I think the previous post she/he was referring to was the one on Buhujapidasana where I was saying I found jump back easier after that asana and was wondering why.


Both Buhujapidasana and Baddha konasana affect the adductors and I was wondering if it was something to do with that. Focused on it this morning in my practice and found my jump back better after Baddha Konasana too.


Just did Baddha konasana and focused on where I was feeling the stretch (S) , (felt like somewhere at the top between the Adductor Longus and Magnus : I'm not much on anatomy!) then did a jump back focusing on the same point and noticed that I seemed to come up more easily and that I seemed to almost automatically swing back from there.


So what's happening. Only guessing here but I think usually I'm focusing on getting my feet up and more lately my knees. And when I think of pivoting at the shoulder (P) I tend to think of my head (X) as one end and my feet as the other (Y) . But perhaps (Y) should be the point where I'm feeling the stretch (S) in Buhujapidasana and Baddha Konasana. This seems to make more sense.
So lifting up focus on this point (S) which seems to help curl your pubic bone up and in following uddiyana bandha thus giving you more lift, then throw your head forward and draw back from (S) which is now also (Y). Does seem to make more sense drawing back from here.
Going to see if i can annotate one of my youtube videos with all this P X and Y stuff to illustrate this better. ok here it is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_FaXxduIow
Freeze frame it about five seconds in. Hope this makes sense.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Mat or Rug for jump back : Should you buy a Mysore Rug?

So which is better for the Jump back / Jump through, a mat or a rug. I guess that depends on where you are with your jump back. I'll define advanced as being able to jump back in the sense of being able to lift up completely off the ground and swing back and through with out touching the mat. Intermediate can occasionally do that but still brushes the top of the mat and a Beginner is doing a variation of the jump back probably coming to rest half way though.

I'm placing myself as Intermediate here (but only in the sense of the jump back not Ashtanga as a whole) in that I can VERY occasionally manage to get through without touching. Mostly my feet are brushing the top of the mat. This is a problem with a rug because I found I was just wearing my foot away, rubbing nasty holes in my feet just above the little toe where it joins the foot. This is also a problem with my jute textured mat (second from left in picture). This was my first mat and my favourite when I was doing beginner variations. I'm now using An extra long open cell mat (far left) the extra length is great. I have to be careful though, for the first couple of jump backs as I can rub the same place on my toe and can get a blister, same as with the rug. But as the mat becomes a little slippery from sweat my feet slide through and it feels like the real thing and I can focus on the other elements. I'm starting to think a black closed cell Manduka mat would be even better as there's no texture and it's probably a little more slippery. You can wipe the areas your hands and toes go with a towel to avoid slipping but keep it slippery in the middle where your feet go through. As I become more consistent in avoiding brushing the floor I would probably go with a rug over the top of the mat.
Advice for beginners? I'd say stick with a basic sticky mat, As you improve you'll find the sweat helps your feet slide through as you start to advance form the beginner variations to full jump backs.
WARNING about jump throughs. Trying to learn to jump though with straight legs can be dangerous with a sticky mat. A bunch of times I caught the sticky mat with my little toe going through and almost broke it. I highly recommend the bent leg Jump through via lolasana as a MUCH safer bet
PS. The light blue rug in the picture has a sticky coating on the back of the rug. This is a great idea as the problem with rugs is that they can move about a bit. I found the sticky rug a problem though. It's TOO sticky! put it on a wood floor and when you try to take it up it will take the varnish with it. Put it on a mat and it will tear off the top layer of the mat. Probably only good if you have a carpet but then, in that case, your probably fine with a normal rug anyway.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Does everything else suffer by focusing on the jump back? EG. Baddha Padmasana

I've thought about posting this for the last couple of weeks but didn't want to risk jinxing it. I've noticed that while I've been focusing on the jump back and this blog, everything else has just started coming together by itself. Marichiyasana C has become easy, D has become closer ( P.S. Just nailed my first Marichiyasana D couple of days after this post, left side only so far). Upavishta konasana has appeared from nowhere. Last week I was able to clasp my hands behind my back in Supta Kurmasana and I find I can get my foot behind my head and almost let go with it staying there. Back bends are stronger, though I still can't imagine being able to drop back (I'm thinking the subject of a sister blog next year).

Best of all this morning I was able to struggle into Baddha Padmasana. I was convinced this would be something I would never be able to manage, just didn't think I was built right for it (but then didn't I think that about Marichyasana C). I found a trick to it. Get into a really tight lotus, feet up higher than usual then reach around with the left arm and clasp left toe, then, and here's my trick/tip, slide your right arm between your back and left arm which enables you to work it down to your toe and clasp (might take a bit of tipping over to the left - see video on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHZOQAjzYWc
Apologies for no shirt on this one but couldn't do it with it on, think being hot and sweaty helps).

But what's all this about Baddha Padmasana doing in a Jump Back blog? Point is, focusing on the jump back doesn't mean everything else has to suffer, they'll come along nicely on their own. Also it goes to show that the little tips/tricks/suggestions can make the difference and that something you begin to think you'll never be able to do will just surprise you one day. Like the jump back.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Key areas to work on to PREPARE for the jump back.

This is a post for anyone visiting this blog who feel they are still a long way away from achieving a jump back but are wondering what they can do to prepare themselves in the mean time. I'm assuming your doing some variation of the jump back perhaps from the Swenson book, like putting your hands in frount of your feet rocking on to your knees and jumping or stepping back from there.

1. Achieving lift off/ lift up

Doug Swenson talks about practising the lift up as Take-it-up-asana on page 75 of the ring bound version of his book, "Ashtanga yoga". Can't stress enough how important I think this is to practice, you'll build arm and core strength and work on bringing your knees up higher and your feet in closer to the body. It's the area I've been working on most over the last few months and wish that I had practiced from when I started a year and a half ago.
If you don't have the book, type it into Amazon then hit the surprise button about four times till the jump back page comes up then go back a page or two. Or best off all buy the book, it's excellent.

2.Building arm/Shoulder strength

You don't need to be built like a body builder. Look at some of the videos I link to on this site to see that rather than having BIG muscles it's rather that your using all your arm and shoulder muscles well. Sadies 30 is a great way to build strength and will help with your handstands, float ups, as well as your jump through and jump backs.
have a look at Sadie's 30 Super Yoga Strengthener on youtube

3.Lolasana

Found this has made a huge difference for me. It's that middle part of the jump back and jump through. You pass through this stage so why not start practicing it separately. Great for building core strength. I keep getting up in the middle of watching something on TV and do a couple of Lolasanas. This whole article is great on jump back prep. but go half way down to the section on Lolasana (dangling jewel)
http://www.ashtanganeworleans.com/Old%20Website/StudentSection/JumpBack-Maty.htm

4.Stringing it all together

Use some blocks or something like the Nike grip things. It will give you the extra height you need. Start jumping half way or on to a cushion or jump half way through and shuffle the rest of the way keeping the core engaged. Do this to get and idea of how your shifting your body weight how you start to pivot at the arms etc and just getting an idea of how it will all go together.
Try this video from Sadie on Youtube. She picks up the bricks about 1.55 in
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvZ6kJXJC5A&feature=related

5. Bandhas

Work on engaging both Moolah and Uddiyana....don't worry about all the mysticism that seems to surround them, something is going on that helps. A big thing for me with Udiyanna was being reminded that its not just pulling your stomach in and back but in and back and UP. The up seems the most important bit, It seems to be where your going get the lift. Have a look at this article on the Nauli / uddiyana practice especially Stage 1
http://www.yoga-age.com/asanas/nauli.html.

Hope this helps.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Lift off: Pulling knees up to keep feet closer to your backside

So you you start your jump back, you've engaged your bandahs pulled your knees up to your chest and tucked your crossed ankles as close to your behind as you can. You press down, lift up, all is going so well, but as soon as you try to bring your legs through the front foot just hits the floor.
This is always happening to me and as much as I try to keep my feet up higher or tucked in they just seem to drop and drag and hold me back. But I think I might have come across something that helps. Instead of focusing on your feet and ankles try focusing on your knees and of lifting them up. This morning I'd read something on Mysore musings about another posture and pointing the knees up which got me thinking. During my morning practice I focused on my knees instead of my ankles. I'd lift up and just before I began to throw myself forward and try to swing my feet back and through I focused on my knees and of keeping them up and even lifting them higher. For some reason it seems to work, there's an extra bit of lift and your feet stay closer to your backside helping you get through.

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A Reminder

from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi This blog included.

"So, as I said, Kalamas: 'Don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, "This contemplative is our teacher." When you know for yourselves that, "These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering" — then you should abandon them.' Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

"Now, Kalamas, don't go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, 'This contemplative is our teacher.' When you know for yourselves that, 'These qualities are skillful; these qualities are blameless; these qualities are praised by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to welfare & to happiness' — then you should enter & remain in them. Buddha - Kalama Sutta
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