(originally posted 26th June 09)
This post suggests that the straight leg Jump through isn't really a 'jump' through at all, and that thinking of it that way may be what holds us back. It suggests that you don't need to be particularly strong, flexible, or know your bandha from a band aid (although engaging bandhas might make it a little neater). It suggests that, unlike the crossed leg jump through, anyone should be able to do this at any stage of their practice, there's a knack to it, you could do it .... well... blindfolded (in fact, as it turns out, blindfolded might even help).
The best time to write about how to do something is just after you learned how to do it and your reasonably clear as to what it is that made the difference. Since working out how to Jump through with straight legs Friday evening I've been pulling them every
chance I get to try and get the action fixed in my head
And yet every time I try it, my first one ends up just the same as when I tried it six months ago. I end up landing on my feet just before I go through my arms. If I didn't know I'd done it ten
times already I'd still be convinced that it was impossible, that my arms were two short or that I was just stupid, stupid, stupid.
This was my first attempt this morning I was kind of expecting it because the same thing had happened last night in the bathroom getting ready for bed and in the bedroom ten minutes later. The first one always ends up this way. And yet I think I know what I should be doing. I lift my hips, elongate my arms .....
The first thing to understand about the Straight leg jump through is that it's NOT a Jump through. you don't Jump through your legs, you CAN'T jump through your legs. You know this, like me you've probably stood with your arms down beside your legs hands on the floor trying to work out how the hell it's possible for your legs to jump through there. You were right, it's not possible, it can't be done.
What you CAN do, is SWING your legs though your arms. And that's what's happening in the Straight leg 'Jump' through. You jump to your arms and then bring your head up which kind of pivots you through. It's a weird sensation and still feels a little magical which is why I still need to do the first one with blocks to get the action fixed in my body and then it's OK and I can do as many as I want without the blocks.
So here's my breakdown.
A. Raise your hips high, bend your knees and jump up to where your hips just were, bringing your legs forward towards your hands rather than through your hands. What your actually doing is jumping into an inverted forward bend Paschimottanasana (Imagine turning the picture below 45 degrees to the right or just tilt your head to the left).
B. Now this happens quickly so timing becomes important but about the time your legs reach your hands you pivot at the shoulder. I find bringing my head up makes it happen. By bringing the head up your whole body seems to pivot at the shoulder, your hips go down and your legs come up.
C. It's this pivoting that swings the legs through. Notice in all three pictures my arm are completely straight. All that's changed is that my head has come up a little and my hips have dropped. Notice too that I'm still in Paschimottanasana.
But no matter how many times you watch a video or look at these pictures when you actually come to do it there's still this mental block, there's something counter intuitive to the whole thing, the floor is too dammed close.
So lets eliminate the floor and do it blindfolded. Friday I tried it with my eyes shut which seemed to help. Blindfolded is more dramatic and makes for a nice post title.
Do it blindfolded with the blocks first and then quickly throw the blocks away and do it without.
( UPDATE. 5th July OK hands up, admit it who thought I was nuts here? Here's a video posted on YouTube yesterday of John Scott jumping through Blindfolded and having his class practice with there eyes shut
OK different context I admit and he's jumped through a few more times than I have perhaps but still) Back to the original post
Blocks help, they give you the feeling that the floor is further away and that your not going to break a toe.
If you saw yesterdays post you saw me doing it on the smooth shiny floor of my bathroom, with socks on. It gives you just a little more confidence that if your feet do hit the floor then they will slide the rest of the way.
A nice smooth Manduka eQua towel on your sticky mat will have a similar effect, giving you the confidence that your feet will slide through.
And here it is, still work in progress, when I play with it on the blocks I feel like I have more time, as if it's in slow motion and I'm able to work on engaging the bandhas, control it a little more, slow it down, hold it with my legs outstretched and lower to a nice soft landing. I'm still playing with it, getting the hang of it. Best of all it takes nothing out of you, unlike the crossed leg variety, so you can practice it as many times as you like without getting tired.
I wouldn't give up my crossed leg jump back for this one but it's nice to be able to do both
And finally here's Lino again, demonstrating it on YouTube.