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!!