I just watched the above video in which Kino responds to a student's question about how to achieve a floaty practice. As I understand it, the student has been practicing for three months, and wants to know if three months is enough to achieve such floatiness.
Kino's answer, in a nutshell, is: In Ashtanga yoga, there is no fixed amount of time that is needed to achieve anything. Some people take longer, while for others "achievements" like being able to jump back or lift up into a handstand come relatively quickly. The key is to keep working on the practice with patience, persistence, dedication, and an attitude of surrender, and things will happen when they do; whether they happen sooner or later, they happen when they happen.
I have written quite a bit about floating and jumping through and back (see, for instance, this post). I agree with Kino: You just have to keep working on it, and it will happen when it happens. I might also add that it really helps to have a playful attitude towards the whole thing: Try to have fun trying, and it will make the whole journey lighter and quite possibly, more fulfilling and less angst-inducing.
But in a way, this might be easier said than done. I may be speaking only for myself, but I have the feeling that many Ashtangis have a "Holy Grail" posture on their practice horizons: Basically, this is the "Wow, how can any human being possibly do this" posture that first got you intrigued about Ashtanga, enough to start the practice and begin the journey down the waking-up-at-stupid-o'clock-to-do-funny-things-to-your-body road that many practitioners (including myself) find themselves traveling almost without their being aware of it. What the Holy Grail posture is varies for different individual practitioners: For Kino (and probably many others), it appears to be having the ability to jump back and also to lift up into handstand.
My Holy Grail posture happens to be tic-tocs. At least, I think that's what it's called: You know, the one where you drop back into a backbend, kick up into a handstand from there, and then drop down into downward facing dog. And then reverse the process from there. Come to think of it, I've had a fascination with backflips since I was a kid. But as a kid, I lacked the proper training to be able to execute a backflip. And then I got into my teens, started practicing Tae-Kwon-Do, and wasted a few good years doing high kicks and trying to kick other people's faces without getting my own kicked... Anyway, to cut a very long story short, soon after I discovered yoga in grad school (see this post for the sordid details), I bought myself a copy of B.K.S. Iyengar's Light on Yoga. I flipped through the asana section of the book, saw those pictures of Mr. Iyengar doing tics-tocs (I think he calls it Viparita Chakrasana), and re-kindled my childhood fascination with backflips. I also found it really intriguing and cool that somebody in his forties (that's probably how old Mr. Iyengar was at the time he published the book) could actually do that. I remember thinking to myself: If what they say is true, that you are only as young as your spine is flexible, then yoga must be the freaking fountain of youth! I was sold on yoga from that point on, and started a daily practice immediately. I mean, think about it, the fountain of youth: Who doesn't want to be forever young?
So yeah, as you can see, my motives for starting yoga weren't exactly the noblest of motives. But really, we only have so many years on this planet, and whether we like it or not, gravity is pulling down on our bodies every single moment. We can let this gravity pull our bodies closer and closer to the earth with each passing year, resulting in sagging skin (and sagging everything else), brittling (is this even a verb?) bones, and atrophying muscles. Or we can find a way to work productively with gravity, slow down this atrophying process, and in the process, age a little more gracefully and, with some luck and a little bit of grace from whoever's or whatever's running this whole cosmic show, die a little less painfully. How is this an ignoble or bad thing?
Well, as usual, I see that I have seriously digressed from what I set out to say in the beginning. Before I got sidetracked by my own thoughts (talk about chitta vrtti), I meant to say something about how most Ashtangis probably have a Holy Grail posture or two on their practice horizon, and that because jumping through and back was never my Holy Grail posture, I wasn't particularly attached to nailing it either. It took me a couple of years of practice to be able to jump back, and when it happened, I was, like, "Wow, my body can do this? Nice." And then I just moved on. And if you must know, I still can't do tic-tocs (then again, I haven't really been trying that hard either). But it's okay; do your practice, and all is coming, no? :-)
Maybe I'll end this post with a few questions for you. Do you have a Holy Grail Posture or two on your practice horizon? Have you achieved it, or are getting closer to achieving it? If you are not, how do you feel about it? Please feel free to share. I'll love to hear from you.