Rocket Yoga is an Ashtanga Yoga System because we study our self through breath, bandha and dristi…but this practice can be deeper and more illusive than the traditional Ashtanga Yoga practice itself!
Rocket Yoga is an Ashtanga Yoga System because we study our self through breath, bandha and dristi…but this practice can be deeper and more illusive than the traditional Ashtanga Yoga practice itself! Rocket Yoga is the “YES” Yoga of the Ashtanga Yoga world. Yes you may take ownership of your yoga practice. Check the schedule for upcoming Rocket Yoga classes at the studio.
About the Rocket Yoga Creator: Larry Schultz
“Our weaknesses become our strengths, and our strengths our weaknesses” Larry Schultz
David Kyle: Rocket Yoga is an Ashtanga Yoga System created by Larry Schultz from San Francisco who was a dedicated student of Pattabhi Jois and always mentioned to me teachers like Danny Paradise and David Williams as his teachers along with Pattabhi. Larry spent many years practicing the mysore method and with my time with him it seemed to stick. He was always awake around 4am…kicking me out of bed early to practice silent morning prayer through our asana. Early practice was important to Larry and integral to the practice. We also had slamming classes at 4:30pm everyday so we usually did 2 practices a day. Once in the morning and once in the afternoon. We never really worked until after noon and always used the morning to practice and take walks in the park to talk about what we were going to do the for day and chat about the yoga world and what it was becoming.
David Lurey: During my 7 years of practicing with Larry, I was opened to a whole new universe of the modern yoga scene. Larry was affectionately known as the ‘Bad Boy of Ashtanga’ because after spending time with Pattabhi Jois learning classical Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, Larry became frustrated with not being allowed to move onto the Second Series and practice other poses besides the Primary Series. So he broke away from the ordered system but took many of the elements with him in his practice that became one of the main roots of ‘Power Yoga.’ This rebellious spirit lived fully in the way that Larry lived his life and one of his more important gifts to all his students was his sincere authenticity. During a time when many yoga teachers were becoming ‘holier then the next’ and ‘more pure then the others’… Larry simply was who he was and earned my deepest respect for that. He knew what worked for him and wanted to share it.
He was amazingly influential in the San Francisco Yoga scene of the 1990’s and beyond and was even referred to as ‘the Mayor of Folsom Street’ (mostly by himself!) for his ways of bridging the gap between the austere and the social aspects of Yoga. In short… ‘Its yoga’ (his studio) was a hot bed of cross pollination. Asana, music, parties, dance and even some social and political actions came out of it. I remember practicing side by side with Nicolas and Amanda, who are now MC Yogi & Amanda… David Kyle, Rusty Wells, Stephanie Snyder, Clayton Horton and others who are now influential Yoga teachers as well as rock stars, artists, political activists and more.
What is Rocket Yoga?
Larry Schultz combined first, second and third series of Ashtanga Yoga and sequenced the poses around the joints of the body. The Rocket sequence encourages play and offers modifications of traditional poses. The Rocket has roots in the Bay area where Larry ran his studio ‘It’s Yoga’ for over 15 years and made The Rocket available to the masses. The Rocket practice encourages a smooth unbroken rhythm of breath and movement, and as it may appear to be a very physical practice it is actually leading us on a path of self-realization. The Rocket, as the name indicates, gets you there faster. Larry says, “It’s like an invisible force of energy, to help us reach our dreams and our goals.” It adds in more strengthening abdominal moves which support your inversion practice, as well as lots of hip openers, backbends and twists to create a well-rounded body and mind. The Rocket sequences leave you with the feeling of being stronger, lighter and more flexible. Sweating is encouraged to purify and reshape your body.
The name “Rocket” comes from one of the guitar players from The Grateful Dead, Bob Wier. Larry was touring with the band and teaching them Yoga classes and he would teach this sequence to the band. After one class, Bob said to Larry… ‘what is the name of this sequence.. it’s great!”… Larry said he did not have a name for it, he just loved to teach it. Wier then said he should call it “The Rocket!” Larry asked why and Wier said “because it gets you there faster!!” And it stuck instantly. Larry joked he never knew where “there” was… but he would get there faster anyway 🙂
The Rocket Sequences
The Rocket System is split into almost 6 different Routines which is placed in a manor to allow access to the super beginner and those who feel as though they are not flexible enough or strong enough to begin a vinyasa practice. The first sequence of postures is nothing new at all in practice. Simply referred to as “MDR” or “minimum daily requirements” students are encouraged to take on a daily practice that consists of Sun Salutation A and B followed by a short seated meditation and rest.
Another series in the Rocket System created by Larry Schultz is the Rocket 1 series, which focuses on legs and forward bending poses. It is an all level series that rearranges the Standing Primary Series asana into a very clever flow of postures that keeps the transitions all on one side before shifting to the left side. Very different from the traditional right/left practice, but those who have studied will recognize this as a method taught by Krishnamacharya himself. So there is nothing really new about it at all:) But it sure is a jolt to the bodies vital energies and it creates a spike in the nervous system that is good for people who are feeling drained from work or stress from family or social responsibilities. This is a short series that is mainly standing series asana with only a few seated poses depending on the students capability. All levels enjoy this practice and flow.
Another series is the Mixed Levels class that is often referred to Rocket I as well. Its is the revision of the standing series of traditional ashtanga with a “Modified Primary Series” placed onto the end of the standing asana. This is a beginners version of primary series where students are allow to remove postures of difficulty like half lotus postures and intense flexibility postures like supta Kurmasana: Binds are also modified with straps and blocks can be used as well. There is no strict attitude or restrictions on what a student needs to find comfort within themselves.
Another series is the Rocket 2, which offers more strengthening moves for your arms and back. This is the sequence that follow a modified 2nd series with Advanced A & B Postures added in as transitions between the base line of postures that any Ashtangi would recognize as a half 2nd series. The typical postures that are chosen from the Advance series are the inversions and deeper hip openers. There is also a ton of specific transitions that students may choose from to make the practice more challenging or more modified. This gives the teacher a special place where they can lead large group classes but still allow mixed level students to participate. Unlike traditional Ashtanga where students can only do poses that are given by their external guru. Although I do like their rigidness and exclusiveness … I still favor the all inclusive vibe that is celebrated in the Rocket Vinyasa Yoga System.
If there was ever the idea of advanced place to the Rocket practice it comes from here, but all in all.. Rocket Yoga is designed to be a modification of the Traditional Ashtanga Yoga series that is a little more difficult to climb so to speak. Everything is relative. But to place this series against regular popular power yoga and vinyasa yoga practices and there is no doubt that the Rocket Yoga sequence literally is way more physically advance and intelligently sequenced by far. These series are already almost 20-30 years old. For modern/western yoga there is very few solid and set sequences of postures that has made it that long without shifting into something that is totally different. like Traditional Ashtanaga… Rocket Yoga is here to stay!
Another series is called the Rocket 3 and it is a longer variation combining Rocket 1 and 2 series. This class can be seen as a higher pace, but ofter people feel like its easier on the body and nervous system since the stimulation of the primary and 2nd series asana are put into the same class. This is Rocket style therapeutics and all the postures from though out the week are accumulated into series that puts everything together. Typically this practice is done on Friday afternoons which is the last class of the weekly schedule.
Another sequence is Bottle Rocket that can be practiced in under an hour, so you can get the effect of The Rocket without taxing yourself with a longer practice.
Another series in the Rocket system comes back around to the source… Full Primary traditional count as taught by my teachers:) We always practice the traditional series at least 1 or two times a week. Usually on Sunday to start the week off right. People who are more involved in the traditional series like David Kyle also offer mysore and work to climb the amazing Ashtanga Yoga mountain! To honor the tradition is part of our practice, but we do not wait for anyone to give us our poses. That’s for followers and we practice to be leaders in our communities. No hierarchy in this system. And for people who need rules and people to tell them what to do next. For the western mind that needs to be told “NO” at 6am in the morning… well that’s your thing and this is ours… We love this world. We really do have freedom to do as we choose.
Rocket instructors while thoroughly trained are encouraged only to assist in “two finger adjustments,” empowering the student as opposed to the teacher.
Rocket and You
As you practice it, remember to honor your body’s limits and trust yourself to move appropriately for your body on any given day. Although it may get you there faster, make sure ‘there’ is not an injury but an undefinable destination of self-love and honoring of your practice. Try something again… and again… and again. There are usually 3 variations for the more advanced poses shown in one of Larry’s more memorable quotes, remember “the way you do anything… is the way you do everything.” Do it with awareness!
The only way to fully understand the Rocket is to take a class and experience the yoga magic for yourself. Try out Rocket Yoga here at the Yoga Space! See our schedule for more details. https://theyogaspace..uk/schedule/
“Often people walk into ‘It’s Yoga’ with worry, stress and tiredness written all over their faces but when they leave, they show the effects of Ashtanga Yoga: they feel better and look better, lighter, freer, more relaxed and energized. This is why to me, teaching Ashtanga Yoga is a kind of self-realization; every time I lead class I, as a teacher, grow and express the insights of my own yoga. I see people take in the practice from various angles and develop, change and transcend their limitations, realize their possibilities.”
In Memoriam: Larry Schultz, YogaDragonden (1950-2011)