Saturday, June 8, 2013

Can two opposite forms of Ashtanga Yoga Coexist? Rocket Yoga and Jois Yoga

It's a fair question, whether you like to practice Iyengar and Ashtanga or Vinyasa Flow and Yin Yoga on the side.  By working with multiple styles we become more in tune with our changing bodies and moods, right?  So why not mix it up:)

In fact, many of us love to mix the Traditional form of Ashtanga Yoga with non-traditional forms of Ashtanga Yoga. Like Mysore in the morning and Rocket at night!

At my studio we offer mostly Ashtanga Yoga, but we host and support teachers form all styles.  I have had Iyengar, Kudalini, Power Yoga, Forest Yoga, AcroYoga, Anusara Yoga, Prana Vinyasa, Trance Dance, meditation, and even Sufi Mysticism!  Any and all methods allowed if they follow a path based on experience.

For over 10 years we have successfully ran a set schedule of Traditional Primary Series classes along side the Modified and Rocket derivatives through out the week!  Its a slower process for students to progress but allows more accessibility to work through weaknesses.

The student response to this method of combination is excellent!

Are we being unfaithful to our teachers or the lineage by seeing other teachers?

Not at all!  We are not marrying our teachers are we? and if you are married to your teacher you should ask for an open relationship! (just with yoga of course)

Can we practice 2 different styles and maintain a sense of clarity and progress with efficiency towards the goals that are set for our practice? 

Yes!  and I know I'm not alone.  Many styles but only one practice! We are all practicing YOGA no matter what style!

As a student who appreciates the teachings from Pattabhi Jois as well as from Larry Schultz and the numerous teachers who share his views on a less ridged Ashtanga format - I say, YES!

So this being said I would like to talk about the amazingly good benefits that both systems offer to the student who is willing to take on the rigorous training of these artistic and scientific practices called Ashtanga Yoga.

Traditional Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga is the name that has been attached to Pattabhi Jois yoga sequencing which is one of the longest running modern yoga forms.  With a focus on maintaining an unbroken chain or a fixed set of yoga asana sequences designed for all students to work with in a set method referred to as vinyasa.

I have listed 10 of my favorite benefits below:

  • Encourages daily practice to work directly with the weakness of the body and mind to heal and strengthen 
  • Mysore practice brings the teacher/student relationship into a more authentic 1on1 process
  • No faking it.. no hiding or avoiding the problem.
  • No matter where you go in the world-any language will give you the same practice the same experience
  • By learning the sequence you can let go and drop deeper into the meditative process
  • There are hundreds of studios and thousands of teachers who can give insight and access to the practice

  • It involves and requires exercising the mind as much if not more than the body.
  • It encourages therapeutic adjustments from a teacher to help release the tension in the bodies joint.
  • Internal heat is an ingredient of this practice that produces sweat and a deep detox
  • By surrendering and giving in to a teacher you can practice humility

Rocket Yoga: a Non-Traditional Ashtanga Yoga derivative is the name that has been attached to Larry Schultzs' yoga sequencing when he re-arranged the primary and secondary series of Ashtanga Yoga.  Postures were either modified or remove to keep the flow of the class easy for beginners.  This makes the Rocket classes more of a modified form of the Ashtanga Yoga Practice.

Creativity being an obvious ingredient in the Rocket sequences, it is possible to see many different forms of the Rocket 1, 2, and 3, but there is a fixed foundation that is followed by all certified teachers. This also allows the practice to be made more advanced/ or physically challenging by adding in transitional techniques often referred to as "floating and flying" or adding in variations to the traditional postures. 

Listed below is 10 of my favorite benefits below:

  • All levels are welcome in any of the classes 
  • Students may add in advanced variations to poses
  • Each day of the week students work with a different sequence give a more westernized approach to working with the body.
  • Individuality, and inquisitive attitudes are encouraged and celebrated
  • Students are taught about the distinct benefits of each series and are give the responsibility to choose the class they want to take in accordance to how they want to feel each day
  • Daily practice is encouraged with an emphasis on morning practice after student wakes.  No set time besides less than 1 hour after you wake up. 
  • Postures can be modified to keep the flow steady
  • Takes a feminine approach to the Ashtanga Yoga practice.
  • Handstand may substitute the seated vinyasa!
  • Increases the sympathetic nervous system stimulation and revitalizes the body with feel good chemicals and an uplifting energy.  This class can shift and detox out a lot of              stresses from the body!
I'm standing on 10+ years of a combined practice in Rocket Yoga and Jois yoga and would like to submit myself as an example of what the combination of both of these amazing systems can do if you combine them right.

To combine them right then you should have more than 1 teacher in order to receive insight from both perspectives.  We all need an Angle and a Devil on our shoulders.  This is not meant to represent the classical idea of right or wrong, instead we want it to represent the role of opposite choices.  The choice to go one way or the other and make your own decision on whether it served your positively.

Always listen to your inner teacher and the truth will come out and speak loud and clear to you. 

Hope you enjoy!  If have any questions please ask and we can use the comments section below to address any confusion or simply tell us what you need and how we can help.


David Kyle

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Whats is 2 qualities that makes the Rocket System unique?

I was recently asked to compare and give specific reasons why Rocket Yoga should be considered a specific form of Hatha Yoga comparable to more popular styles of Hatha like Anusara, Jivamukti or Dharma Yoga.

I decided to keep it simple and work with 2 qualities in specific that I feel sets the Rocket System up as a practice that all Hatha Yoga practitioners should try at some point.

1: The Rocket Yoga system is a form of Ashtanga Yoga that allows the hierarchy to be destroyed!

Yep.  This practice is all about focusing on your strengths and capabilities vs. focusing on your weaknesses and the poses you can't do.  Each person is different in the abilities and the Rocket System aims to find out what each individual is good at and encourage the student to work with their strengths and build confidence by going with the flow of their natural talents.  This resonates with the student not only on the mat but off the mat as well.  In our daily lives we have to recognize what we are good at and move in that direction.

2: Gives a practice that allows students to learn how to stimulate both the Parasympathetic and Sympathetic nervous systems evenly.

Wow! A lot of people are not even thinking about this when they practice, but everything we experience comes from the nervous system.  This is how we feel the external world.  Our basic functions of relaxation and energizing is stimulated by the two parts of the autonomic nervous system: Parasympathetic and Sympathetic.

Parasympathetic is for relaxation.  It slows down the heart, mind, cools the body, and increases the digestion.

Sympathetic is for energizing.  It speeds up the heart, mind, heats the body and decreases the digestive system.

Primary Series is mainly the parasympathetic stimulation and the 2nd series is the sympathetic stimulation.  I have made this deduction based on the fact that Primary is mainly forward folds vs. the 2nd series which is back bends, twists and inversions.

The Rocket 1 and Rocket 2 are based on the 1st and 2nd series of Ashtanga Yoga.  The exception is people in their first month of yoga are allowed to practice both of the series in the Rocket System.  In traditional practice now a days it could take years to access the 2nd series postures for the average person.

Rocket Yoga  "It gets you there faster!"

These are just two of the many reasons why Rocket Yoga stand out as a Hatha Yoga system.  There is direct intention in the stimulation of the nervous system and this allows the student to choose what practice they want that day depending on how they feel.

Jai!  Thank you Larry 'ji

What is Rocket Yoga?

Rocket Yoga, Rocket Vinyasa Yoga, The Rocket, Rocket 1,2,3?  With this style running up the popularity ladder that are a lot of people who are left asking simply... What is this Rocket Yoga!?

Whether you have just heard about it or noticed the buzz building over the past 10+ years its only a matter of time before it is in your neighborhood!  Maybe you have practiced the class before and you know what you think about it or maybe you have never even done a class but still have an opinion on the name itself.  If you have done a few classes and "think" you have it figured out then guess again!

This practice can be deeper and more illusive than the traditional Ashtanga Yoga practice itself!  And yes!  Rocket Yoga is an Ashtanga Yoga System ;) Let the process begin.

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.

I could use this blog to copy paste what you would find on any web page about how the Rocket is a derivative of the 1st, 2nd, and Advanced series of traditional Asthanga Yoga and its know as a invigorating; feel good series that bring vitality and health to the practitioner.  It was a practice Larry created while on tour with the Grateful Dead, but I think it would be best to stick to directly what the Rocket Sequences provide and how they effect the mind/body.

for general information you should visit the It's Yoga International site @

Also how does the Rocket Yoga practice draw us into a state of inspiration. A place where we can breath in our spirit and cause the rapture of life to be present within us at all times.  How can the Rocket do this!? its simple science really.

Larry teaching David in Puerto Rico for a demo

First of all its good to make sure people know that 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 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.  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 led 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 of the 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 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 myself 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 Yoga is the "YES" Yoga of the Ashtanga Yoga world.  Yes you may take ownership of your yoga practice.

I will be able to break down more details about the series as people ask or feel free to search out a qualified Rocket Yoga teacher in your area!  let me know where you are and I can help you find one.

More to come time to sleep and wake up early for the sun!

Thank You Larry!


*an uneducated point of view

Below is the oldest form of Rocket Yoga Cheat SheetS!!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Ashtanga Yoga Immersion thoughts....week 1

Father to Traditional Ashtanga
Pattabhi Jois

Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga follows a strict (but flexible;)  set of guidelines that brings the student into a very particular experience called yoga.  This practice is a preparatory practice that is aimed to soften the hard shell, so to speak, and allow the individual to uncover the veil of confusion that is draped between them and the truth.

This strict requirement towards the correct method can scare away some students.  It is simple in description but not easy in practice.   Some students may mistakenly take the teachers suggestions as part of the guidelines instead of viewing them as they are... suggestions.

Others are "turned on" by the detailed attention to every aspect of the practice and feels this really helps resonate the truth that this practice creates deep forms of awareness of yourself.  Physically, emotionally and spiritually.

What should be seen as "correct method" is simple.  This is referring to the tristana method (3 points of focus) and the proper number of vinyasas used to perform any given asana.

Again.. Simple really.

So what are the three points of focus that must be maintain during the yoga asana practice?

1. Pranayama       -(breath)
2. Asana               -(Postures)
3. Drishti              -(gazing points)

These three simple points of attention can help create deep concentration (Dharana) and eventually will bring the student towards a state of meditation and absorption.  These Ashtanga Yoga techniques train you in how to observe the self.

Every vinyasa is laid out for the individual to connect these three points of attention to complete each action. The student then flows from one vinyasa to the next maintaining a constant attention to the 3 points... .Breath, Posture, Drishti!


well..... maybe not.

We can look at the breath first.  How many times do we find ourselves holding our breath throughout our yoga practice.  Do you hold your breath in classic spots like jumping back or jumping through?

If your holding your breath then you probably look this as you practice...

dont hold your breath till you turn blue!

We have to breath a every moment and with consciousness at every action.  This is part of the definition of Vinyasa - to place in a special way.

Thanks for that one wiki!

well.. for now when you jump through just think of this image instead

At least thats what your inner child will look like after you learn to jump through with your breath! To move with your breath is to experience what we like to refer to as "flowing"

Its a lot like floating down a lazy river.. going with the current and enjoying the show as it slides past you.  Dont worry if you missed anything because you know you will simply float around again.

Its also good to see the breath as fuel!  We need to keep filling up our tanks as we move through the practice.  If you stop breathing then the tank will run dry and the muscles will give out.

Pattabhi always said "no breathing, then pain coming soon!"  Pain is a result of losing prana... losing that inner connection with movement.

We can keep ourselves connected to the breath.  Its a promise we should all commit to.



Thursday, February 28, 2013

First Day of the Ashtanga Yoga Immersion

I have decided to offer a small glimpse into the process of helping a student immerse themselves into the Ashtanga Yoga practice.

This will be great for teachers because i plan to bring to light the fundamentals in a building process for students to become full fledged dedicated practitioners and enthusiastic facilitators of this practice we all love so much.

For students you will find this stream of blogs as a nice surface test to whether or not you would enjoy participating in an Ashtanga Yoga training. The deeper you get into the studies o Ashtanga Yoga the more blurred the line becomes between the student and the teacher.

Introduction is always the beginning. Introducing the intention of the training itself. This process has a life of its own. Its like climbing on the back of a wild horse and working to tame the Juggernaut of a practice that has lasted the test of time. Over 5000 years to throw a ball park figure out. What is the Philosophy that passes from teacher to student? That seed of curiosity that keeps spreading through the Fields, rooting and sprouting?

Now is time to fill in all that empty space with this practice. We often feel like theres no time to add in anything new, but on the contrary we are all here because there is a hole that needs to be filled. Yoga will complete the individual.. Or should we say it will burn away the crowd within us until only 1 is left.. Your true self.

Circles are always opened by introducing yourself.  But this is not just for the purpose of joining together the people.  Each individual has to question themselves and choose how to describe themselves to the group.  This is the true beginning of becoming who you want to be!

Stay in touch and I will be giving weekly updates on the process of this 200 hour training!


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

32 Life Lessons

So thirty two trips around the sun is supposed to put me right around middle age I guess.  I believe its still 65 that would be considered a nice long life.  If someone sticks around past their 70's then they are doing great to hang in for the long run!   The little peter pan inside me still doesn't ever want to die, but I'm not going to waist the time I have hoping I will gain more time than those who came before me.

We all have to do what we can with what we have.

This is 32 life lessons I decided to challenge myself to write down as part of celebrating my 32nd birthday this year.  32 years should give me some kind of insight on how to live... at least how to live like David.  Some are hopefully funny and some I take very seriously... I will try to make each lesson relevant to the age I was ;)

1.  Momma and Poppa is always there to comfort you and guide you.  Whether this by blood or some other means of connection our parents are like the first representation of God.  They hover over us when we sleep and make sure everything is right.  They catch us and help divert danger that we would have never seen coming and they give us the first feelings of love.  They are our creators and sustain life in the beginning.

2.  I am me.  This is my world and my creation.  My ego is what helps me be who I am.  To experience everything as an individual process of communication with my surroundings.  I love... I hate.... I'm happy.... I'm sad.  I is the point in the middle of the mandala and once I realized this I was free to explore all the mystery around me without feeling lost or disconnected with my center.. with who "I" am.

3.  The world is an open book and full of new things to see everyday.  Read the lines and read in between the lines to get the full experience.  Jump and deal with the response later... whatever the response maybe its new... and new is good.

4.  Routine is comforting as some new things create fear.

5.  Putting books under your pillow doesn't always cause it to come true... but it may certainly give you some good dreams about it.

6.  There is great logic in the children's story Hansel and Gretel.  Leaving a trail of bread crumbs might be a good idea when exploring alone in the woods.  But... if you forget you can always climb the biggest tree to the top and find the trail over the tree tops.

7.  Its better to simply open the gate vs jump over it.  It seems fun to jump over it but you run the risks when you go against the grain.

8.  Almost everything of importance that my parents gave me has been lost.  Grandparents heirlooms like rings and other items of interest.  Don't let your kids play with these things.  I will not let my little girl have her mommas or grandmothers rings until she is older.

9.  No one ever wins in a physical fight.  Even the victor of a physical fight has to deal with pain that is unnecessary.  The one who is smart enough to avoid physical confrontation is the greatest warrior of all... and taunting will not help this cause.

10.  When you go to bed let the dreams begin before you fall asleep

11.  When someone tells you a dream will never work... its worth trying.

12.  Honesty is best... Tell the truth and let it go.  It will disappear.   secrets follow you forever and turn you into a heavy load and still there are cases when silence is the better option.

13.  Most people are not your friends.  They are acquaintances.  Even the ones you will know your entire life.  By the time we die you will be able to count your true friends with your hands.  Hopefully your life partner, brothers and sisters are part of that list, which only leaves room for a few more.

14.  Everyone is out for themselves.  and this is ok... because you should only be concerned about yourself too.

15.  Accept rejections, you will not always get what you want the way you want it.  So be creative and go to the source of your desire.  This secret gives you the ability to always be victorious.

16.  As much as we sometimes don't want it to be... this is real.  Everything is Everything.

17.  There is no need to change yourself to fit in to another ideal form.  Be yourself.  Be clear with who you are.

18.  What you do is how people know you.  Not by what you say.

19.  Crime does pay... but punishment sucks. Be smart about everything you do.  Think it through.

20.  When you want to do something then just do it.  see #11 and #15 again.  Go for it!

21.  The best things in life have no age limit.

22.  Nothing is for free.

23.  Experience is key to true knowledge which is fundamental to honest opinion.  even the bad and unwanted experiences.  An educated opinion without experience weighs less than a fools opinion with experience,  but nothing is heavier than an educated one with the experience.

24.  Only waste your time on things that bring you joy and happiness... then the time is not wasted at all.

25.  Don't be around people that do not share similar interests.  For me all my friends are yogis.

26.  Sometimes you have to let someone take advantage of you to really see who they are.  To truly know if they could be of benefit or destruction.

27.  Everyone with a soul appreciates arts and diversity.  Many on this planet are without souls.

28.  There is no such thing as sin.  Stop the inner critic.

29.  Business is business... yoga has nothing to do with it.

30.  If you pay to go to a class/lecture and the teacher starts talking about god...ask for your money back.  Money should have no place in spiritual transactions. Churches should not have admission fees or monthly dues.  Religions and material gain should be kept separate.

31.  The most beautiful places tend to be the hardest to get to.

32.  The best kept secret is the joy of having children.   As long as you're willing to sacrifice then the experience is pure and full of love.  This is a lesson for all adventures and quests.  "Sacrifice" is key for all practices.

Well this could be simply written off as a lot of bullshit or maybe some of these realizations I have had over the past 32 years may help you along your way.  This took me a few days to write.  1 day to write the first 2... day two I wrote the next 5...and then on day 3 I wrote the remaining 27 lessons.

You think 1 life lesson a year would be simple enough... I have really learn much more than that and half of what I think is probably wrong.  Misconceptions possibly, but for now totally in line with my personal experience of life.

Boom for real!

Hope you enjoyed.

David Kyle
*un-educated point of view

Friday, April 13, 2012

Meditation is formless... there is no method

Pardon me for not spending time putting down exact quotes here and more than like I will greatly discredit much of the people I quote by paraphrasing it to pieces but with that being said this is a blog honoring those who follow an unrestricted form of practice/meditation. No rules here.

Terrence Mckenna once said that culture is not your friend.  Culture restricts the individuals ability to flourish. Religions/Cults and other forms of organization and rules cause most of us to be demonized.  Art is our only form of defense.  We create our own expression to maximize our humanity. Yoga is my art.

Krishnamurti also spoke against providing methods of attainment. He refused religions and ideologies.  

The famous ideal of something not being "correct method" ultimately takes away the individuals experience.  Who are we to expect our experience to be the only way for another. Doubt is a practice in which Krishnamurti spoke highly.  The practice of questioning the information that you receive.  Why trust?  Why have faith?  When all of our great teachers have told us to experience it ourselves.  Experience is the key.  Once you experience it you do not trust... you know.

In fact the most important step of all is to "doubt yourself".  Question the very existence of who you are. Why you are here and what is your beliefs? 

Osho is another radical in the world of spirituality, yoga, and other forms of religion.  To Osho in the honest practice of yoga, one must not be subject to faith or belief.  "Beliefs are like cloths... they can be changed"  But the man stays  the same.  One day a man can carry a Bible and profess his passion for Christ and then the very same man can change his faith and start carrying a Koran. But the man stays the same. 

Yoga is a practice of getting to the core of it all.  All beliefs must be given up.  All identity must be removed.  What you think your are... what you believe your are is not real.  Larry Schultz said  "Everything you see with your eyes open or closed is make believe"  What you feel is real.

Its good to start from a point of not knowing what meditation is...  It's a "marvelous" place to begin.  So all previous beliefs must be released. 

Questioning the act and paying attention to see the experience as a response to the act.  Are they separable.  There are many methods/paths to the same end.  Can we attribute one as right and one as wrong?  One as good and one as sin? 

There is no "Correct Method" because there is no incorrect method either.  This is the practice of non-dualism.  Being conscious seeing everything as an expression of everything.  As my good friend Paul always says "Everything is Everything"