Wednesday, 30 July 2008

The handle: Lifting up from the Manubrium (Jalandhara / Mahabandha - the great lock?)


Manubrium is latin for handle. It's also the name for the bone at the top of the sternum.

Can't remember what led me to this but while I was in Paris attempting to lift up and jump back I started to throw my head back and lift from around this area (had to look it up after I got home, interesting it's called the handle). Now when you connect it to your uddiyana and moolah bandha and lift up from there a surprising thing happens. You seem to ge more lift but then all of a sudden your tilting forwards, or rather, flying forwards. It's as if there's a shift in body weight allowing you to pivot more effectively. You don't have to try and throw yourself forward anymore it just seems to happen automatically.

I checked all my videos on my ipod but nobody has their head thrown back. So I tried to continue to lift from there but tilting my head forward instead of back. Still a bit awkward at the moment but I think it's having an effect, as i had a couple of really good jump backs this morning.

Now this is where it gets interesting . The tilting the head forward, chin-in bit, reminded me of the third bandha I always forget about, Jaladhara bandha, the chin-lock. According to Swenson you extend the chin forward and then draw it back into the notch formed by the two clavicle bones.

When you engage all three locks (for example in Janu Sirsasana) it's called Mahabandha or the great lock. It seems to make sense, you engage all three bandhas linking them tightly together and then pushing down with your arms you lift up from the handle (the manubrium) pulling your whole body up in one go with no lost action (see lost action post). Held together like this your body weight appears to shift upwards causing you to tilt forward sending your legs back and through.

need a little more practice on this but will try to put a video together and add it here by the end of the week

Let me know if you try this and if it seems to help.

Ps. think the picture comes from Gray's Anatomy

Moolah Bandah and lost action

OK so I'm a woodwind repairer and one of the problems we encounter a lot, is double action or lost action. Basically you go to press a key on your Saxophone and the key moves a little before it engages with the next key and begins to close it. Not always a major problem but a good player wants instant response. The problem is cured by a slightly larger piece of cork between the keys so that as soon as you press one key the other engages immediately no lost action.

And this is what I've started to think is happening with moolah bandha. Coming from a western philosophy background I'm more than a little sceptical of the bandhas and heaven forbid the ruddy Chakras (there goes half my audience, sorry). However, uddiyana bandha has been a revelation to me and now I think I know whats going on with moolah bandha. It's the same as the double action on the saxophone.

When you want to lift up for your jump back if you dont engage the bandhas your pushing on your arms lifting the shoulders and then trying to lift the mid secting and then finally your backside and your legs. the lost action is in the "and then". However, if you tighten the moolah bandha muscles and pull in and draw up the uddiyana bandha connecting those two together and time it with the pushing down on your arms and lifting up your lifting everything together at the same time so you eliminate the lost action and get better and more controlled lift.

Best practice ever!

Got back from Paris yesterday and maybe it was something about doing my practice this morning in my own house, in a large airy space, after the grotty, cramped, stifling hot and humid ,city hotel room but i just had the best practice ever. Was getting further into my Marichys and deeper forward bends throughout. When I went into Supta konasana etc. I thought I'd left a couple of ribs in Paris. Strangest thing, I've been nursing a stretched hamstring for the last three months or so. Nothing too bad, but enough to make me take it easy where my right leg was concerned, but really frustrating. Anyway maybe it was something to do with walking over five miles a day through the city but it seems to have cleared up, just like that. Must ask the anatomy lot on yoga.com.
And my jump back this morning? kind of hesitant to say but I think managed to properly jump back and through about three or four times. Hesitant, because my mat was pretty sweaty and I was brushing the top of it,kinda sliding my little toe through, but still pretty much the first time on my sticky (ish) mat.
There are two things I discovered in Paris that I think helped but I want to put them in two separate posts for reference. One is to do with moolah bandha and the other is something to do with lifting up the sternum which seems to give more lift and a quite surprising tilt forwards.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Hmmmm... interesting. Approaching jump back from jump through.

Have been wrapped up with idoru2005 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFJTJOAyZfM and Sharaths jump through. The way they hardly seem to jump into it at all. they seem to hop up a little and then move parallel and through. Have been trying this tonight and can pass through hardly brushing the floor. But what's really interesting is holding the passing through and lowering down. Now hold that in your head and muscle memory and do it in reverse ie. picking up and jumping back trying to keep it almost exactly the same as when you jumped through. Found it much easier...still brushing the floor and it wouldn't work on my sticky mat but I could kind of get an idea of what's going on. Keep trying it back and forth but really slowly. Interesting. Will try to add a video of this late to illustrate what i mean.

Links to jump back articles

Here are some links, as promised, to some pages, articles, advice etc. on the Jump back. These are the one's I'd already put in a folder but I think I have some more hidden away in my Ashtanga and yoga folders. Will try to fish them out and add them as I find them. Please send me any goods links you think I should include.
Listed in no particular order.

1. Advice on yoga.com forum

http://www.yoga.com/forums/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=18388&start=1

2. Pick up and jump back by Maty Ezraty

http://www.ashtanganeworleans.com/Old%20Website/StudentSection/JumpBack-Maty.htm

3. Tips from Cronyogitech's blog

http://cronyogitect.blogspot.com/2008/02/jump-throughs-in-seated-vinyasas.html

4. Excellent tutorial from the mysore musing blog. mainly on the jump back but good section and video on the lift off.

http://mysoremusings.blogspot.com/2008/05/how-do-you-jump-through.html

5. Page on Nauli , the preparation for this helped me gain more control of Uddiyana bandha

http://www.yoga-age.com/asanas/nauli.html

6. Peter Sterios on Lolasan (middle stage of the jump back and good prep.)

http://www.petersterios.com/instruction.html?s=articles&article=lolasana

7. More on lolasana from Richard Rosen for yoga journal

http://www.yogajournal.com/basics/2296?print=1

8. Arm balancing work from Roger Cole again for yoga journal (builds arm strength).

http://www.yjevents.com/practice/1756.cfm

9. Tim miller writing on the jump back for Guess who/ yoga journal

http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/765

10. John Scott section on jumping back taken from his book

http://www.ashtanganeworleans.com/Old%20Website/StudentSection/Jump-Through-JS.htm

11. And from Doug Swanson's book on the same website.

http://www.ashtanganeworleans.com/Old%20Website/StudentSection/Jump-Through-DS.htm

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Puzzle metaphor for jump back

See my last post. I wrote that I thought the last piece of the puzzle for me was in the ankles. Stuck me that a Puzzle is a good metaphor for the jump back. I think there's all these different elements to it. All the teachers describe it differently and focus on different elements.

So, picture the jump back as one of those giant kids jigsaw puzzles. Big chunky wooden pieces. now I figure there might be what 9 or so pieces. thing is everyone starts the jigsaw differently and have dropped a different piece on the floor under the table (OK, getting carried away with this). We're all looking for a different last piece. The point is I think, is that we need all the pieces. We need the core and arm strength, we need the ability to shift our body weight, to lift up and swing, the jump back to plank from lolasana, the hand position, the tucking our legs up and in. etc how many is that? Eight, one more......drishti? OK, perhaps 12. Bandhas, Mulla and Uddiyana...is that one or two? maybe just one if your doing it right! And to really push the metaphor to breaking point, do we begin at the corners, the edges or start in the middle.
Your lists of proposed elements welcomed.

Buhujapidasana and it's role in jump back practice.

What is it with Buhujapidasana? I've heard it mentioned before in relation to the jump back. obviously there's the obvious crossed ankles, the leaning forward and drawing the feet through but I think there's something else.
I did my best jump back after Buhujapidasana this morning. maybe we're usually tired by the time we get there and feel a little weak and don't notice but today I was feeling strong all the way through my practice. Perhaps something to do with last night's Tempura.
Is it
a. the hip opening aspect?
or
b. the act of crossing the ankles and really pulling them together so tightly

Need one of the anatomy guys to tell us if there's something in the hip flexors that allows us to pull our legs in closer to our backsides, might ask this on one of the forums. If I get a response I'll add it in here later.

I'm going with b. though. See my last post, I'm convinced the last piece of the puzzle for me is in the ankles.

So close I can almost tase it!

Great practice this morning, in fact I'm sitting here, still hot and sweaty with my grapefruit because I can't wait to write about it.
Was watching Idoru2005's youtube videos over and over again last night. The guy's amazing. His jump back and jump through appear effortless. In fact his jump through reminds me of Sharath.
check this out
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DFJTJOAyZfM

he hardly seems to jump at all, what is that? it's almost ........almost a shrug?

And his jump back, now he's clearly a strong lad but he doesn't appear to use arm strength at all, is it all core? now look at his ankles. he seems to hook them around each other for a moment and really pull them in close.
that's what I was trying this morning. I think usually I'm trying to pull my ankles back and through. this time I focused on pulling them up and in closer to my body. I could feel it making a big difference. After Bhujapidasana I was able to lift up and pull through as if I was wearing my socks on a hardwood floor except I was on my sticky mat with bare feet....so close now I can almost taste it!

But of course tomorrow there will no doubt be that two steps backward feeling.

Friday, 18 July 2008

Lifting up

Got a great response to my post on yoga.com forum, about this blog, from Andrew Hubbard. I believe he's a teacher in NY. here's the link to the post.
http://www.yoga.com/forums/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=27377&posts=3

this is what he has to say about the initial lift off, the area I'm finding the most difficult.

"It took me about six months to do it, or so I remember. Here are some suggestions. You probably already have most of this, but it may help. First of all, in your video I see you lifting up prior to the jump back, but your feet are on the ground. The first thing you need to achieve is to lift your entire body from the floor with your feet off the ground. You should flex your feet very tightly while crossing them (right over left is usually easier, but I alternate), lift them well off the floor and bring your knees up to your chest in preparation for lift off. Your hands must be right next to your hips; (you mention this too on your blog, but in the video your hands are well in front of your hips, because your feet are on the ground). Then do something that might sound sacrilegious, but it works: hunch your shoulders, (this will prepare you to push down). To lift up, push down as hard as you can with your arms while simultaneously applying all your bandas and crunching your abs. Off course, keep your fingers splayed; this will provide a nice wide, firm base of support for the whole procedure (and you will get an extra push from your fingers).Personally, I wouldn’t bother with the feet on the floor lift. If is bad form because it pulls you forward. As you say on your blog, you want to be perpendicular to the floor. Indeed, your body needs to go straight up. If you are leaning forward you arch your back and create unwanted tension. Just practice lifting up as I describe above, even if you can’t get off the floor at all at first. Over time you will strengthen your core and soon enough you’ll pop right up."

Was trying Andrew's approach last night and again this morning in my practice. I seem to be getting more lift but still my feet seem to drop forward. I think the idea i have in my head of the Jump back is Lino Miele's. The way he lifts up effortlessly and seems to be able to hang in the air as long as he wants and draw through so slowly and with such control.
It's unrealistic and the reason I started this blog in the first place. These top Ashtanga people are way out there and when we watch their videos it's like, No way. I want to see videos of people who only just got it or are still close enough to that moment to be able to describe what made the difference, as well as teachers who are teaching this everyday and seeing what makes the difference with their students. And this is a blog rather than a webpage because I want the moment and the period leading up to it to be documented as a resource for anyone else struggling and having days when they think they'll never get it.

That said I watched Doug Swensons primary series dvd again last night and he doesn't lift up as long as Lino it's more of a flowing movement of lifting up and slightly forward and swinging under. Seems much more achievable.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Straight legs or bent in Jump through

I received a comment on the video I posted on Youtube yesterday. The advice was to keep my hips lower on my jump through. There was a video attached, but it turned out to be for a straight leg jump through, while I tend to do a bent leg jump through via Lolasana. I'm pretty sure keeping your hips high or low depends on the style of jump. I want to come back to this post later and add some quotes from the lit.
Was wondering which style people prefer and why (comments encouraged ) Must be some little voting application I can add where you can vote for your preference.
I was gently admonished in one of the forums last week by a teacher from another yoga style who doesn't agree with teaching jump backs and jump throughs to beginners because he feels it's dangerous.
I think the straight leg jump through is a little dangerous, I've caught my little toe before and was lucky not to break it (dammed sticky mats) and have heard some horror stories. If your going to do it that way I definitely recommend using yoga bricks at first. However, I think jumping through via lolasana is pretty safe and can't see any danger of injury with the jump back.
Here's a very quickly thrown together video of the two styles...please ignor the awful form and camera angle, will try to make a better one in a day or two.
video

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Crossing ankles higher up the leg

Had a "Eureka" moment this morning. I noticed that when I cross my legs to lift up, the crossing leg seems to trail a little lower than the foot behind and it's the side of this foot (the frount foot) that touches the floor and on my sticky mat stops me from drawing through into Lolasana.
So I tried crossing the ankle of the frount foot higher up, midway up the shin. This made a big difference, now when my feet go through they're level with each other and I've gained a half inch to an inch. I was trying this with my yoga bricks and it felt much easier, also I seemed to have more leverage to pull my behind leg back to my butt. Much better jumping through too.
I quickly tried it without blocks, all excited. But as ever I STILL wasn't getting enough height on the lift up to clear the mat. But, definitely an improvement and this was confirmed by my grip socks and the hardwood floor which barely seemed to brush the top.
video

Tried it on my mysore rug too and I'm able to bring my feet through. Sticky mats just stop me dead at the lightest contact. Jumping back through on the rug though is a problem. If you dont clear it completely you start to rub the skin off your toes.
I think David Swenson talks about crossing the legs higher up , on his workshops, around calf level. I tend to try and do that when I'm focused but the principle is the same. I think the frount leg needs to be drawn up a bit which makes them uneven where they cross, but level as you go through......does this make sense? Of course when you get really good and achieve lots of height then all this probably doesn't matter but for now a cm of clearance can make a huge difference.

Ashtanga with Bricks

I remember reading somewhere that Yoga props were discouraged in Ashtanga because it int erupted the flow. However I've found yoga bricks can be useful for working on the jump back. I used to use the Nike push up grips everyday then moved on to the yoga bricks as the hand position seemed more natural. Now I only use them once a week or so. I can lift up a little from seated and I can lift up off my knees into lolasana but I can't lift up from seated and move into loasana and back into plank without the bricks or socks and a hardwood floor.
So if your wondering whether to invest in a a pair of bricks but worried about them interfering in your plowing practice here's a short video. The video runs from Janu Sirsasana C to Marichiyasana C as I figured there was a lot of knees sticking out and moving about in these asanas and it would give a fair representation.
video

Friday, 11 July 2008

Planned future posts

This is a page for planned future posts. My mind keeps drifting to an idea for a post during my practice. Following Gil's advice, from Zencast (great podcast on mindfulness meditation), I just try to label it as planning and get back to the breath. I'll list things here that I want to post on later. Also any suggestion or requests will get put on here as well. I'll number them so we can refer to any we want to look at next.

I see any post I make as just a starting point that anyone can add to, comment on or criticise. Come back to things if you try something and it doesn't work and let us know. We all have to confront the jump back sometime and once we start, we're going to be working on it for a number of years, improving, refining or completely changing our approach and style of Jump back.

Also some of these I want to make and add video's or pictures and need a bit more time.

Now I've forgotten everything....

here's one

1. Lift up training : Dandasana

2. Five pillars of the jump back (there might just be four)

3. Nike grip push up things V yoga bricks Done

4. Mat or rug for jumping back Done

5. jump back Articles on the net Done

6. Arms locking on lift up

7. Coordination

8. Timing the breath

9. Jump through and the pendulum

10. Drop back youtube vids

11. Drop back articles

7. Uddiyana bandah

8. Hand position

9 Any suggestions?

10. Lift off: comparing jump back lift up, lolasana and Tolasana

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Lift up practice tip to avoid frustration

Maybe this blog is a bad idea. throughout my practice this morning my mind was wandering to a myriad of ideas for posts. This was my favourite.

I tend to get frustrated with my lift up. Doug Swenson suggests that you should always practice your lift up, even if you then set down again and go through your usual jump back variation. This makes sense, looking ahead, building arm strength, good prep for Tolasana etc. But we do this, what, 24 times in the primary and I rarely seem to get more lift than the 24 times I tried it the day before and occasionally become really really frustrated. So how about this.

I often find myself shuffling forward on my mat before I jump back (notice Lino NEVER shuffles,not EVER). Instead try lifting up and shifting your backside forward an inch or backwards an inch. Your practicing your lift up yet achieving success every time because your aim is now, not height, but a little further forward on your mat. Now when you notice that the action of shifting your butt forward or back is activated by your core this starts to look even more interesting because once you do lift up in your jump back your going to want to swing yourself slightly forward and then back into your Lolasana.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Grip socks


Grip socks are great. Mine are made by Dandylion (made in Japan) and have tiny sticky rubber dots on the toes. They also have soft titanium micro dots on the inside that are supposed to work like the titanium necklaces that the likes of Paula Radcliff wear, realigning your bio currents and supposedly preventing injury. They make tennis style wristbands too that also have the soft titanium microdots. I dont know if the titanium thing works but do know that if I'm having trouble sleeping, if I put the wristband on I sleep better, so maybe it's doing something.


video

Wearing socks to practice the jump back and jump through is a great idea. I still cant get the lift I need but with the socks on and a hard wood floor I can drag them though but still get an idea of how i'm supposed to be shifting my body weight etc. here's a couple of videos. You can get away with normal socks for the jump back but grip socks are a must for the jump through

Notes from my Jump back notebook

So I started a "Jump back" notebook and just started adding bullet points of things to remember. Sometimes these would come from watching some videos online, reading an article or sometimes from my practice. Here's what i have so far. I'll number them so if anyone wants to comment and say this one helped or that one is not a good idea it will be easier. However there's no real order other than how they appear in my notebook.

1. Sit legs outstretched

2. Hand by the side

3. Puff out chest

4. uddiyana bandha

5. Shoulders back

6. Head bent down

7. Draw shoulders forward as you lift

8. Round back as if thread pulling belly button though back and up

9. Drop chest towards floor as you bring feet through

10. Hug knees to chest, then release and hold with hip flexors

11. Sit tall, shoulders back, head bent, knees hugged to chest, toes pointed, lift and rock forward,bring shoulders forward with lift and fall forward, swing through up and back to chaturanga.

12. Start lift off a second after you begin to inhale

13. Better to jump through slowly

14. Jumping through: have shoulders a little in frount of the hands

15. Lift off: engage Uddiyana then bring pubic bone up to ribs LIKE A SPRING

16 Lift off: engage Uddiyana then push down like a spring then bring pubic bone up to ribs like the release of the spring.

17. Lolasana: hands further back, almost at hips

18. Drishti; gaze further forward

19. Squeezing in thighs, like squeezing a toothpase tube forcing the toothpaste up the tube....try it on tolasana

20. Crossing ankles higher. if you cross them together one trails below the other. cross the right ankle a little higher up the shin of the other leg

Favourite jump back videos on youtube

Here's a list of jump back videos i've found on Youtube. I had hoped to be able to embed them but this blog doesn't seem to allow it.
First a great tutorial by Roboramma
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_egJfG5ZT0&feature=PlayList&p=26AB4571689B27FE&index=15

Continuous jump backs and jump throughs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJOWmcHeX88&feature=PlayList&p=26AB4571689B27FE&index=14

Satyasmurthey's Jump Back

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFsNbQ7czeE&feature=PlayList&p=26AB4571689B27FE&index=8

peaceloveyoga

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmxu4DI4qzQ&feature=PlayList&p=26AB4571689B27FE&index=4

Lino miele.....There's a story about a saxophone player who on hearing charley Parker, and how sublimely he played, threw his Sax off a bridge into the hudson river....watching lino sometimes makes me want to send my mat the same way
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AeqWCw-SfCM&feature=PlayList&p=26AB4571689B27FE&index=1

Sadie

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_A-VMwyDMk&feature=PlayList&p=26AB4571689B27FE&index=5

Derek Koh
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJ_mcJgFKnI&feature=PlayList&p=26AB4571689B27FE&index=9

not on youtube but a great jump through tutorial from Elsie on her blog Mysoremusings the fourth video is on lifting up

http://mysoremusings.blogspot.com/2008/05/how-do-you-jump-through.html

This from Paul Fox...Found this one very helpfull and it's how i'm currently doing my own jump back at the moment

http://www.paulfoxashtanga.co.uk/asana/jump.htm

Some great jump backs and jump throughs from idoru. His jump through seems effortless.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4p2jdcvWcU



If anyone has come across any others please let me know.

Jumping back

I've heard it said, and been told that the Jump back is not so important and not something to get hung up on, that it will come with time etc etc. And I agree with this. I know and accept that it's just one aspect of the practice and there are many ways/variations of the jump back that allow you to string the asana together. And I'm aware that Nancy Gilgoff, supposedly, never employed the jump back.

BUT

I like the the jump back!

I want to jump back!

I WILL jump back!



I like how it links the asana. I like how the asana flow together when you can jump back out of one asana and jump through into the next. Ashtanga is a flowing practice so what's wrong with focusing on the flowing aspect.



We shouldn't have to defend our keenness to master it.



That said, there have been times when I've stopped my practice midway through my practice frustrated at not being able to lift up and this is where the "don't get hung up on it" comments are important



I've found that the best way to go about it is find a comfortable jump back variation that fits within your practice and then start developing your jump back outside your practice.



So here are two videos the first is how I'm currently approaching my jump back in my daily practice.




video

The second video is of Lolasana. When I get home from work I spend a little time (10-30 mins)working on developing my Jump back(at the moment improving my lolasana), some handstand and/or jump to standing practice and just recently some experiments on working towards the drop back.




video

UPDATE 3 years later (8th july 2011 )

Over the last few years I've been adding my Jump backs to a progress post here's the link,
Jump back's past to present

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from Kalama sutra, translation from the Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi

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