For every person there is a style of yoga. It may be the tempo, the breath, the physical or mental challenge – whatever clinches the deal, a yogi knows when they’ve found a style that touches something within them. ‘Yoga’ refers to the union of the mind and the body, but different people require different meditative practices to achieve what I view as the ‘flow state’. Despite already being converted to the yoga lifestyle, when I discovered The Rocket, I discovered new depths in my connection to yoga.
The Rocket is based on the Ashtanga Vinyasa system – a very traditional, strong and dynamic style developed in India. Embraced to this day by die-hard yogis, Ashtanga is sometimes considered a strict discipline that requires practitioners to master each posture before progressing – a life-long pursuit for many.
The beautifully designed Ashtanga series – complete with extraordinarily challenging twists, bends and balances, demanding cultivation of an unwavering focus, and purifying the energetic body through a consistent thread of breath – sadly loses some of its audience due to its perceived rigidity and the potentially alienating tone of its traditional Indian roots. Though Ashtanga has a lot of resonance with me and remains a pillar in my practice, I appreciate that its magic is not felt by everyone.
For those that thrive on that mind-body ‘hit’ experienced in such a strong yet flowing and breath-focused practice, but are frustrated by the purist approach of Ashtanga, The Rocket may be that special practice that speaks to them on a deeper level than they’ve ever experienced.
In Rocket class we build tempo, breath and heat through a sequence with a variety of challenges, all linked by flowing transitions. The tone is up-beat and playful as we mess about with arm balances and turn upside-down. As an all-levels class, the invitation to try more advanced postures is always there, but the Rocket philosophy is very much about listening to and trusting your own body. As The Rocket founder, Larry Schultz, taught: "it's about function over form". Modifications and preparatory poses are always given, so every student can decide when a posture is calling their name.
We spend lots of time on our hands, building up wrist strength and flexibility – a much needed antidote for chronic keyboard typists. And by challenging our centre of gravity so much, we’re developing an awareness and strengthening of our ‘bandhas’ – the internal ‘energy locks’ that include the pelvic floor, deep core muscles and the throat. Essentially, by establishing a Rocket practice, you’ll start to feel stronger and lighter; closer to your primal human self than ever before.
As a Rocket devotee, I’m clearly as biased as it gets. But if any of my subjective description has stirred some curiosity within you, you owe it to yourself to at least give it a go. As with all worthwhile practices, it’s not always an easy ride. There will always be a pose or progression you feel you "can't do"; the ego chimes up to let you know you’re not improving fast enough; and some days you feel stronger and freer than others. Each of these is a lesson. My teachers compassionately pointed out to me that I was always trying to do more, go deeper, lift higher - be better. They taught me to just be wherever I am in this moment, to listen to whatever the yoga is bringing up. As long as you show up on your mat, you'll get the benefits of the practice...and there's always tomorrow to try something new.