In fitness, health and life, everybody is always looking for the new-beautiful… Hotter, faster, slower, more real, surreal, over-keel, underlying, deep down, surface tension, next dimension myo-fascial release… But everything has already been done; you may just need a new way of doing it.
And so it was with The Rocket system of yoga developed by Larry Schultz of It’s Yoga, San Francisco, after studying for years with the original grand-daddy of Ashtanga, Sri Patthabi Jois, in Mysore, India. Harder, faster and stronger than most other styles of yoga, Ashtanga is considered to be the originalPower Yoga and the basis of all “Vinyasa Flow”. It’s the one that really gets you moving, sweating, twisting and breathing; non-stop from the sun salutations til you hit Savasana- hard. Enthusiasts the world over have extolled the supreme virtues of Ashtanga from Madonna and Sting to Gwyneth Paltrow and Ryan Gosling.
But as a traditional practice, it’s as much about what you can’t do as what you can. The strictness of Ashtanga decrees that you cannot progress until you master each posture- however long that may take. As it was originally developed in the last century to calm down adolescent Indian youths and prepare them for some more meditative pursuits by bending, stretching, squeezing and breathing their pubescent bodies through an hour and a half of intensely disciplined movement, many westerners discovered the best way to a clear mind was not actually available to them unless they had the hips and limbs of a 14 yr old boy (or the Raging-Bull commitment of a Hollywood star to compensate). It’s a closed club- several of the asanas (postures) in the opening sequence alone are just not meant for you (or me)- if your limbs aren’t down, you’re not getting in.
So for those who wanted to experience all the life-changing benefits of this powerful form of yoga without getting stuck at the start, Larry broke down some of the rules that were keeping all the good stuff back. And what became a massive underground hit over there, is now finally spreading its yoga wings over here.
What does it do?
The Rocket flows together a sequence of standing, balancing, seated and inverted postures, linked by vinyasas which incorporates both the basic poses as well as more challenging (but fun) arm-balances and back-bends from the more advanced Ashtanga series. And it skips out some of the poses that might break your knees. It’s yoga with a carrot instead of a stick.
Larry called his sequence “The Rocket” because it gets you to where you want to be faster. He also moved stuff around so it flows through the postures in, what felt to him, a more intuitive way. And like Ray Davies of the Kinks when he discovered distorted guitar by smashing in the speaker cone on his amp, and Grandmaster Flash when he cut a few old records together and came-up with a brand new one, Larry took what was a good thing and made it awesome; Or at the very least, accessible. Purists may complain that Hip Hop stole everything by sampling from already great records, but others thank those pioneers for taking the best bits and introducing us to beats, breaks and music we’d never have known; maybe even doing something more visceral and exciting in the process. So it is with The Rocket system: The new doesn’t have to replace the old- it just gives you something else to dance to.
Who is it for?
The Rocket is for the traditionalist yogi who likes to break a few rules. It’s high-heels in church. Yoga for those who want to feel the physical “hit” on the way to eternal bliss without having to snap limbs off to get it. The original rebel yoga. Don’t wait for the good times- Spend your retirement fund now. Everybody gets to do what they want to do. The hard stuff, and the fun stuff. From the off. You might not be able to actually do it yet, but at least you get to try. With a musical soundtrack to keep you lifted. Advanced yoga for everybody not just the advanced. The traditional connection of the breath to the movement- the vinyasa- and a focused intention are still integral to the practice, it just goes a bit faster… If you want to have a go at something, do it. If you want to skip something, do it. Take a break, do it. Go harder, do it. You may be taking a moment in Child’s pose while the person on the mat next to you is flying up into a handstand, but as long as you’re both still breathing that victorious breath, you’re both still on The Rocket.