What is Rocket Yoga, Its Benefits, History and Why?

The Roots of Rocket Yoga

Various styles have emerged in the expansive world of yoga, each offering unique benefits and practices. Among these styles is Rocket Yoga, a term that has gained traction among Western practitioners. But what is Rocket Yoga, and how does it differ from traditional styles like Hatha yoga or Ashtanga? Dive into this dynamic practice and discover its roots, techniques, and the numerous benefits it brings.

A Brief History and The Rise of Rocket Sequences

The story of Rocket Yoga, and its founder Larry Shultz, is deeply rooted in the traditions of Ashtanga Yoga, founded by K. Pattabhi Jois. Ashtanga Yoga follows a specific sequence of poses known as the traditional Ashtanga series (primary series, intermediate series and advanced series). The practice incorporates sun salutations, or Surya Namaskar, which consists of a set sequence of fluid movements that build heat and prepare the body for the main categories of poses, from forward bends to arm balances and spinal twists.

The Birth of Rocket Yoga: Larry Schultz's Contribution

Headshot of a man smiling. His name is Larry Schultz.He is the founder of Rocket Yoga
Larry Schultz Founder

Rocket Yoga shines as a modern style uniquely crafted for the Western audience in the vibrant tapestry of yoga styles that have emerged over centuries. Its birth is attributed to the late Larry Schultz, an innovative and creative spirit who envisioned a challenging and adaptive yoga style.

Larry Schultz was a dedicated student of K. Pattabhi Jois, the founder of Ashtanga Yoga, and spent several years in Mysore, India, immersing himself in the traditional Ashtanga series. However, upon his return to the West, particularly in San Francisco, he noticed a distinctive need. Western practitioners, while enthusiastic, often found the traditional Ashtanga series rigid and hard to adapt, especially given the differences in lifestyle, body structure, and daily challenges. Recognizing these limitations of classical Ashtanga Yoga, Schultz modified the sequences now called rocket yoga.

Larry Schultz's Rocket Yoga Legacy

One of the most significant contributions of Schultz was the amalgamation of postures from various sequences of the traditional Ashtanga Vinyasa method, leading to the creation of the “Rocket sequences.” These sequences were designed to be more accessible and allow for a fluid movement from one pose to another, encouraging evenness of breath and a dynamic style of body movement.

Rocket Yoga was thus named because, as Schultz put it, “it gets you there faster.” The “there” is a deeper understanding and mastery of one’s body and mind. Schultz’s dynamic practice of Rocket emphasized the freedom of movement and the personal touch, allowing each practitioner to bring their interpretation of the traditional asana.

Beyond just creating sequences, Larry Schultz fostered a community around Rocket Yoga. He trained numerous yoga teachers, ensuring the practice spread globally. His studio in San Francisco became a hub for Rocket enthusiasts, drawing in both novices and advanced practitioners eager to experience this unique style.

Risto Duggan teaching an arm balance to an online rocket yoga class
Risto Duggan Rocket Yoga Trainer and Teacher

Understanding Rocket Sequences

Why is it called Rocket Yoga? The name “Rocket” comes from Schultz’s association with Bob Weir, a founding member of the band Grateful Dead. Bob once commented that the sequences “get you there faster,” likening them to the power and speed of a rocket. Schultz’s sequences, Rocket I, II, and III, modify the traditional Ashtanga yoga series. Each Rocket yoga sequence offers a blend of poses from the Primary, Intermediate, and even the advanced Third Series of Ashtanga Yoga.

Benefits of Rocket Yoga and it's Modern Appeal

Under the guidance of teachers like David Kyle and Marcus Veda, Rocket Yoga has become a much-loved form of power yoga, offering a dynamic style of practice that combines cardiovascular health benefits, core strength development, and freedom of movement. Overall, this form of power yoga is a “good workout.” Rocket Yoga poses range from the peacock pose and crane pose to more advanced postures, such as the scorpion pose.

The Art of Modification

What sets Rocket Yoga apart is the art of modification. Recognizing the challenges of classical Ashtanga Yoga, Rocket  yogaroutines allow students to practice their interpretation of the traditional asana, allowing for a more personalized experience. It’s a modern style of yoga that maintains the evenness of breath and body movement of the Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga method while introducing new angles and variations.

Rocket Yoga in Today's World

Yoga teachers and instructors are now integrating Rocket Yoga classes into their offerings, attracting both beginners and advanced practitioners alike. A Rocket practice often begins with sun salutations, followed by a series of poses targeting the joints of the body, from hip openers to poses that stimulate the pituitary and pineal glands. This dynamic practice of Rocket Yoga concludes with a short seated meditation or the traditional closing series.

Incorporating Rocket Yoga into Daily Practice

Many are drawn to Rocket Yoga due to its dynamic sequences and adaptability. For those used to a daily practice of more traditional styles, incorporating Rocket routines can invigorate and challenge one’s regular regimen. By blending Rocket sequences with poses from Hatha and restorative yoga, practitioners can create a comprehensive routine that ensures strength training and relaxation.

The Health Benefits Beyond Physical Exercise

While Rocket Yoga undeniably offers intense physical exercise, its benefits transcend just body movement. Regular Rocket practice can stimulate the pituitary and pineal glands, promoting hormonal balance. Moreover, focusing on core strength and spinal twists can improve postural alignment and spinal health. There’s also an emphasis on weight loss, improved cardiovascular health, and enhanced joint flexibility. 

Picture of a man doing a handstand. he is a rocketYoga Teacher Asana at Home
Risto Duggan Doing a Handstand in a Rocket Class

A Community of Practitioners

The popularity of Rocket Yoga has fostered a thriving community of enthusiasts. From Rocket classes in local studios to international workshops and retreats led by renowned yoga instructors, this unique style of yoga has built connections among practitioners worldwide. Sharing experiences, tips, and the shared love for this dynamic practice further enriches the Rocket journey for many.

The Evolution and Relevance of Rocket Yoga

It’s intriguing how Rocket Yoga, with its origins in the traditional Ashtanga series founded by Patthabi Jois, has evolved into a modern, dynamic power yoga practice loved by many. From the streets of San Francisco to yoga studios worldwide, the Rocket Practice stands as a testament to the ever-evolving nature of this ancient practice, bridging the gap between traditional yoga and the needs of today’s practitioners. Whether you’re a seasoned yogi or just beginning your journey, the Rocket Practice offers an exciting, challenging, and ultimately rewarding path to explore.

Sources https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_Schultz

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