• Mindy Johnstone

Day 12: Rocket Fuel

I have a good friend in Squamish who used to run her own studio. For the schedule she wouldn't put the style of yoga that was being taught, just the level of ability. All a student would expect is to show up and practice yoga regardless if it was active or passive. There is some merit to what she was creating, a sense of non-attachment and a release of expectation of what was to come. I do see the benefit though of choosing a class that is familiar by name and what my body and mind may need for that particular day. Which leads me to the questionable 'Rocket Series' found on the schedule.

More than once I've had students ask what exactly is 'Rocket' and is it something they would like to engage in. To all of you that have had that same thought, here is a little history and description of Rocket Series, where it came from and why it could be a fun sequence to add to your regular yoga practice.

The Rocket Series was created by San Francisco's, the late Larry Schultz. The story goes that he developed the sequence in the 1980's when he was touring with the Grateful Dead as their yoga teacher. As the popular musicians were big Ashtangis the consensus was that some days it would be great to do a bit of everything from the Ashtanga series.

Side note*For those of you familiar to Ashtanga sequencing, out West we tend to practice the primary series, which consists of a lot of forward bending postures in the seated part. If your hamstrings feel tight often these postures may not feel as accessible. The 2nd series of Ashtanga (known as Intermediate), is a nerve cleansing practice that focuses at strengthening into the back body. Traditionally, if you could not do the full 1st series (primary) you would continue to practice it up to the pose that stumped you then close. This didn't give you the opportunity to explore the other series that could indeed benefit you in many ways. Remember when I say 'traditionally' as nowadays there is more flex to this theory and Intermediate and other series are explored more and more.

Back to the Dead... Inspiration struck and Larry Schultz came up with the Rocket; rooted in the Ashtanga tradition but pulling from the 2nd series and key postures from the 3rd and 4th. Bob Weir responded that the sequencing " gets you there faster." A typical 75 minute class encompasses 142 poses. It includes the Sun Salutes A & B, followed by the standing work on the right side, then the left, seated postures and traditional closing. Some of the challenging postures include Astavakrasana (bent in 8 places arm balance), Parsva Bakasana (side crow) and Pincha Mayurasana (feathered peacock forearm balance). Another key element behind the Rocket is 'the Art of Modification.' Students are encouraged to interpret some of the traditional poses and make them more accessible. This could be apparent in binding poses where you can either remove the bind or modify it entirely. The attraction to this series made it appealing to the general populace and anyone who may be structurally not able to do the complete Ashtanga method.

Larry created 3 Rocket Series; Rocket I, Rocket II & Rocket III. Rocket I is based on the Primary Series, Rocket II is the Intermediate and Rocket III is a combination of I & II. The method of when to practice which series is rooted similarly to how we would base the Ashtanga 6 days/week.

Sunday is the start day with Ashtanga Primary Series

Monday, Rocket I

Tuesday Rocket II

Wednesday Rocket II/

Thursday either Primary again or Rocket I

Friday Rocket III (aka. 'Happy Hour')

Saturday is kept as the day off.

The Rocket Series grew in popularity in the San Francisco yoga community. It proceeded to extend nationally and internationally offering over 100 teacher trainings throughout the years. Some students it attracted include William Dafoe, Sting and Madonna. In early 2000, when I first started practicing yoga one of my first teachers Rockne White, introduced Rocket Series. When I took my teachers training, Larry Schultz's manual from 'It's Yoga, San Francisco was one of our main references. A lot of the classes taught back then did not have flow vinyasa as a style instead it was the Rocket.

So I invite you to give it a try if your looking for something different yet familiar. Regardless of the name it could just be the Happy Hour' you need on the 6th day of this week's challenge.

The Rocket at RMY ~ Fridays 4:00pm-5:00pm & Tuesdays 9:00am-10:15am


Banff, Canada

Tel: 403-763-8247

Rocky Mountain Yoga Est.2009

Follow us on Instagram @rockymountainyogabanff
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