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7 Amazing Exercises to Improve Your Yoga Jump Through

How To Do A Yoga Jump Through & Jump Back

Introducing the glorified and cherished yoga jump through and jump back. So many yogis want to achieve this movement - a wonderful concoction of strength, control and mobility rolled into one. It's a beauty. You'll find it in Ashtanga, Mysore and the ever-popular Vinyasa Flow classes. It's the glue that connects the asanas in these practices together and, although there are alternatives and modifications for all abilities, the full expression is the most graceful, rewarding and effortless.

The movement can be broken down into 4 phases, starting from Downward Dog. The only part of your body that should touch the ground throughout the entire movement is your hands - with the exception of the seated intermission in-between the jump through and jump back.

1. Jump & Catch

From Downward Dog, lift your heels, bend your knees and look between your hands. Jump, lifting your hips, bringing your weight forward and your thighs toward your chest. Catch your weight with your knees between your arms.

2. Legs Through Arms

With your arms straight and your thighs into your chest, pass your lower body though your arms, extend your legs and come to a seated position.

3. Seated Intermission

Pause here and do your business - a seated asana, chat with a friend or a bite to eat...

4. Lifting Up

From sitting, bring your knees into your chest, push into your arms and lift your hips from the ground.

4. Reverse Legs Through Arms

This is more about body positioning and counterbalancing than it is strength - it could be considered a rotational movement. Bring your hips behind you and lean forward. As your weight comes forward your legs will automatically move backwards between your arms to counterbalance you. Once your shoulders are past your fingertips begin to bend your arms to continue the rotational movement forward.

5. Kick Back

When your arms bend to around 90 degrees, kick back your legs to finish in Chaturanga Dandasana.

Why the Yoga Jump Through & Jump Back is Easier For Men

One of the simplest ways to identify one's innate strengths and weaknesses is to observe beginners. Once someone has become intermediate and beyond, you no longer know what skills they have been focusing on or where they have made improvements. The yoga jump through and back is best contemplated in an Ashtanga Mysore studio - there's about 60 in the Primary Series. Beginner women tend to excel at poses that require flexibility, even those that are advanced. Conversely, beginner men tend to struggle for quite some time on even basic asanas until they have practiced regularly for some months or years. However, they can often take a pretty good stab at a jump through/back - albeit lacking in control. Why is that? Wide shoulders, limb length, muscular stability and strength all contribute - not just an advantage from gender to gender, but person to person. 

The optimum body shape for the jump through/back is wide shoulders, long arms, short legs, small feet - not something you can change with any ease. It's basic mechanics - long arms bring you higher off the ground, and short legs means there's less to get through the gap! All this being said, unless you have extremely polarised proportions, EVERYONE can do a yoga jump through and jump back given time, dedication and patience. We can use tools such as blocks or parallettes to give ourselves a mechanical advantage whilst we build the skills, strength and mobility necessary to complete the movement. 

What Holds Yogis Back from a Jump Through & Jump Back?

1. Straight Arm Scapular Strength or SASS

Straight arm scapular strength is the ability to hold your weight with straight arms and your scapular protracted (shoulder blades spread, pushing) or retracted (shoulder blades together, pulling). In this case we are looking for strength and stability in the pushing or protracted state.

2. Core Strength

Your arms aren't strong enough to lift your weight alone - you need a strong core in order to lift the weight of your hips and lower body from the ground.

3. Hip Flexor Strength & Compression

Perhaps the most important yet overlooked piece of the puzzle. Your hip flexors are responsible for bring your thighs close to your chest, thus allowing your legs to pass through your arms. 

4. Back Strength

Your back strength kicks in as soon as your hips are lifted and you begin to bend your arms. It's what prevents your feet skidding on the ground before you reach Chaturanga Dandasana. If you're back is weak, you may be 'double jumping' - the first when you lift your hips and bring your feet in between your hands, letting them land, then a second time jumping back from here.

5. Weak Wrists

The jump through and back requires a prolonged amount of time supporting your entire bodyweight on your hands and wrists. Furthermore, your wrists require a wide range of motion. It is essential to have a solid baseline of wrist strength and mobility before training towards a jump though and back. You should be able to hold a plank for at least a minute without any wrist discomfort. Wrist health is incredibly important, and we urge you to warm up your wrists thoroughly before every practice, whatever you ability. If your wrists are sore, give them ample time to recover.

6. Hand Placement

As touched on earlier, the jump through and back is as much about rotation and effortless counterbalancing as it is strength. Your hands act as your pivot point, thus you have some body weight in front of your hands, and some behind it. Hand placement varies from person to person, but you want to ensure your weight is balanced on either side. This often means placing your hands just in front of your hips. Experiment and you might find things get a whole lot easier (or harder!).

7. Confidence

It can be daunting being up on your hands, with your face moving toward the floor. Most if not all skills require complete commitment, and the yoga jump through and back is no exception. Believe in and trust yourself. If you're struggling with confidence, practice on a surface that you feel safe on such as a carpet or padded floor. Practice safely, but don't be afraid to push your boundaries and give it a little oomph - you feel?

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7 Amazing Exercises to Improve Your Yoga Jump Through

Whether you're male or female, tall or short, big or small, beginner or expert - the following 7 exercises will focus on the things everyone can do to improve your yoga jump through and jump back. You can add a couple into your normal yoga practice, or combine into a full practice. These exercises are most effective when performed with plenty of rest and recovery in-between sets, approached as a gymnast or calisthenics practitioner would.

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Lolasana Lifts

For Core Strength & Protraction

  1. Begin in a kneeling position, sitting on your heels. 
  2. Place your hands on the ground or on blocks just behind your knees.
  3. Keeping your arms straight, push into your hands, lean forward, lift your hips and bring your knees towards your chest.
  4. Use the top of your feet to assist you as much or as little as you need.
  5. Return the way you came to finish in the starting position.

Modifications

The more you use your legs the easier this movement will be. Practice partial movements until you have the strength for the full expression.

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Tuck Planche

For Straight Arm Strength & Compression

  1. Begin in a kneeling position, sitting on your heels. 
  2. Place your hands on the ground or on blocks just behind your knees.
  3. Keeping your arms straight, push into your hands, lean forward, lift your hips and bring your knees towards your chest and your feet off the ground.
  4. Stay here and hold for as long as you can.
  5. Return the way you came to finish in the starting position.

Modifications

You can keep your feet on the ground as per Lolasana Lifts until you have the strength to complete the full expression. You will get similar benefits from the next exercise, Plank Leans, but you will lose out on improving your ability to keep your thighs close to your body.

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Plank Leans

For Shoulder & Wrist Strength

  1. Begin in a plank position.
  2. Walk slightly closer to your hands and roll over your toes so your shoulders are in front of your wrists.
  3. Push through your hands, spread your scapula and round your back 
  4. Hold here for as long as you can.

Modifications

Practice on your toes rather than the tops of your feet. Reduce the amount you are leaning forward.

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Elevated V-Sit to Tuck Planche Swing

For Core Strength, Compression & Rotational Exploration

  1. Place blocks or parallettes beside you.
  2. Bring your legs out in front of you, lift your entire lower body off the ground and hold in an L-sit or the more difficult V-sit.
  3. Bend your knees, bring your hips behind you and lean forward. As your weight comes forward your legs will automatically move backwards between your arms to counterbalance you.
  4. Hold momentarily in tuck planche then bring your legs back between your arms and return to the L-sit.
  5. Alternate between these movements for several repetitions. 

Modifications

Keep your legs tucked throughout the entire movement. Decrease the range of motion so you are hanging out mainly with your legs between your arms. Envisage a pendulum - it requires more force to drive it higher and higher on each side.

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Seated Shoulder Shrugs

For Scapular Strength & Compression

  1. Begin in a seated position with your legs out in front and your hands placed firmly just in front of your hips. 
  2. Bend your knees and cross your legs, pushing into your hands to lift your hips and lower body off the ground.
  3. It might help to think of this movement like a shrug, but instead carrying your entire body weight.

Modifications

Keep your feet on the ground and only lift your hips until you have the strength to lift your entire lower body.

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Elevated Jump Backs

For Bent Arm Strength & Learning to Kick Back

  1. Begin in a kneeling position, sitting on your heels. 
  2. Place your hands on the ground or on blocks just behind your knees.
  3. Bring your hips off your heels, lean forward and bend your arms. 
  4. When your arms reach approximately 90 degrees, lift your legs from the ground, pause and kick back to Chaturanga Dandasana.
  5. As you become stronger, slow down the movement and become familiar with how leaning forward brings your legs up with relative ease.

Modifications

Blocks or parallettes will make this movement much easier. Rather than lifting your feet from the ground and pausing before you kick back, forego the pause and get a feel for moving back to Chaturanga Dandasana from the first position.

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Half Jumps

For Confidence & Shoulder Stability

  1. From Downward Dog, lift your heels, bend your knees and look between your hands. 
  2. Jump, lifting your hips, bringing your weight forward and your thighs toward your chest. 
  3. Land with your feet just behind your hands.

Modifications

Make your jumps smaller. However, the key is to build confidence here, and you won't improve that by holding back. 

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That's all for now folks. We'd love to see your progress - tag us in your jump through and back attempts on Instagram @SoWeFlow. Happy jumping.

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