Updated: Aug 16
Rocket yoga is getting more and more popular in yoga studios across the UK. The name is exciting and buzzy, and that is a great way to describe these classes. It is dynamic and invigorating, combining traditional Ashtanga sequences with new creative elements of play.
Who is Rocket Yoga for? Can beginners join in? Where did it come from? All these questions and more are answered below.
You can join us for a Rocket Class at Pose Fitness Studios. We alternate between Rocket and Vinyasa in our weekly Saturday morning classes. Come and give it a go to see what all the fuss is about!
What Is Rocket Yoga?
Rocket Yoga is a more accessible version of the traditional Ashtanga series. Both styles use Sun Salutations, standing and seated postures, with a focus on breath to count movement.
While Rocket Yoga follows a set sequence, there is more room for creativity and modification. It is a dynamic and fast-paced class with a key focus on play, fun and giving things a go. You can expect to see the world upside down and discover your body is absolutely amazing when you try something new!
Origins of Rocket Yoga and Larry Schultz
Larry Schultz is the "father of Rocket" and was a keen student of Pattabhi Jois (the founder of Ashtanga Yoga). Schultz began his Ashtanga journey in the 1970s and became one of Jois' most dedicated and accomplished students.
One of the key principles of the Ashtanga sequences is you must master a pose before continuing to the next. There are different series of varying difficulties for practitioners to work their way through.
Schultz began to experiment with the sequences, choosing to skip poses and jump ahead to the more advanced asanas and even adding in new ones! Jois would often catch Schultz sneaking in a handstand and affectionately call him "You bad man - you bad man!"
Why Rocket? Because it gets you there faster!
Rocket and Rock n' Roll
During the 1990s, Schultz travelled with the Grateful Dead rock band as their personal yoga teacher. Life on the road with plenty of time to kill in hotel rooms gave Larry plenty of time to string together a dynamic and creative sequence. He shared this more accessible version of the Ashtanga sequence with the band as it was a hit!
The urban myth goes, lead guitarist Bob Wier asked Shultz what the yoga sequence was called. Larry confessed that he did not have a name for it, he just loved to teach it. Wier then said to Schultz that he should call it “The Rocket! Why? Because it gets you there faster!!”
While we don't know where “there” is, the Rocket takes you there faster.
So what can you expect when coming into a Rocket Yoga class?
Big focus on play and having fun
Faster tempo than average class
Accessible for all levels (yes, even beginners!)
Key asanas are inversions and arm balances
If you can, then you must. If you can't, simply let it go... – The Rocket Motto
Warm Up Sequence
Similar to the Ashtanga tradition, The Rocket uses 3 rounds of Surya Namaskar A and 3 rounds of Surya Namaskar B (Sun Salutations). At Pose, we often include a couple of Yin-style asanas along with Pranayama (breath practices) before we begin to ease our bodies in gently.
Rocket Yoga Launching Sequence
Straight after the final Surya Namaskar B, the Rocket sequence begins. We launch into a brief vinyasa sequence to set the pace and rhythm. Expect chair to move into fierce pose, followed by crow – the first of several arm balances to play with!
The sequence then flows through standing postures on both sides with a vinyasa in between. This builds strength and stamina in the legs.
Then you will move into forward folds, backbends and twists. Finishing off with inversion play time, releasing tension in the body and calming the mind.
Benefits of Rocket Yoga
Builds upper body strength
Improves overall flexibility
Improves cardio health
Boosts lung capacity
Mental clarity and focus
Releases body tension
Increases energy and vitality
5 Tips For Beginners To Rocket Yoga
Let our teachers know you are new to the style of yoga and inform them of any injuries or conditions that may affect your practice. We can help you modify poses and offer alternatives when needed to make the class accessible for you.
Focus on your breath to steady the body and mind. If you lose a smooth rhythm of breath then this is a sign to dial your effort back a little.
Listen to your own body and only do what feels comfortable for you. We often say, "Close your eyes and imagine you are doing the posture." You will receive all the same mental benefits!
Use props and modifications when applicable to make the practice accessible.
Remember Rocket Yoga is a process, just like other styles. Over time and with practice you will notice an increase in strength, flexibility and balance. So be kind to yourself at the beginning steps and most importantly, HAVE FUN!