What Is Rocket Yoga + How Beginners Can Learn This Ashtanga Inspired Style

Inversions and arm balances are among my favorite yoga poses. Hence why Rocket Yoga, with its emphasis on inversions, is one of my favorite styles of yoga to practice. In this article, I explain what Rocket Yoga is, where it comes from, and how it can level up your practice.

I love how mentally invigorated I feel after doing a headstand. And you can't beat the sense of accomplishment that comes from taking flight in Crow Pose.

So, you can imagine my joy when I discovered a yoga style that focuses on these types of asanas.

Do you also love the challenge of inversions and arm balances? Or do you adore the creative and dynamic flow of Vinyasa yoga? Then, the lesser-known Rocket yoga will surely be your cup of tea.

Never heard of Rocket Yoga? Then read on to learn what it is and why you should try it.


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Rocket yoga is a strong and dynamic yoga style based on the traditional Ashtanga system

The philosophy around this style of yoga is that these sequences will “get you there faster” in terms of physical and mental transformation.

As an avid Vinyasa yoga fan, I enjoy Rocket yoga as there are many similarities between the two styles. Like Vinyasa, Rocket yoga features creative and flowing sequences. The classes are often very playful and fun, incorporating many inversions and arm balances.

I find the best way to describe Rocket Yoga is as a modern interpretation of traditional Ashtanga Yoga. This style of yoga promotes freedom over structure. It allows you to explore different poses and sequences you wouldn't encounter in the structured Ashtanga style.

The main difference between Vinyasa and Rocket yoga is that the latter follows a set sequence. These sequences are designed to deliver maximum benefits in less time than other yoga styles, which is where the name Rocket comes from.

American yoga teacher Larry Schultz, a former student of Pattabhi Jois, developed the Rocket Yoga style. Schultz began practicing yoga at an early age, initially studying under Sri Swami Satchidananda. However, in the 1980s, he traveled to India and began studying and practicing with Ashtanga Yoga founder Pattabhi Jois.

Schultz became one of Jois's most dedicated students, earning his authorization to teach the Ashtanga method. However, upon returning to the United States, Schultz created his own yoga method – Rocket Yoga.

Although Larry Schultz passed away in 2011, his legacy continues. Thousands of yoga teachers studied under him, became qualified in this method, and continue to teach Rocket Yoga. 

Rocket yoga is a modernized, modified, and more accessible version of Ashtanga Yoga. While Rocket Yoga sequences are structured and based on the Ashtanga system, they allow for more flexibility and creativity. 

Rocket yoga sequences incorporate more modifications and variations than Ashtanga. It also includes additional poses, providing a more dynamic and varied practice.

Another key difference between Rocket and Ashtanga yoga is the pace. Rocket yoga has a faster pace and the asanas are sequenced together in a flow, creating a more energetic and invigorating practice.

I personally feel that Ashtanga yoga is sometimes too strict. If you agree, you will likely prefer Rocket Yoga, which has a more playful and lighthearted atmosphere. 

Sure, the discipline and focus in Ashtanga yoga have their purpose. But I find Rocket Yoga adds an element of fun and spontaneity to the dynamic sequences I know and love.

As a physically demanding practice, Rocket Yoga offers many physical benefits. It is ideal for anyone who prefers a vigorous practice that pushes their body to the limits. These are seven top benefits of Rocket Yoga:

  1. Boosts Cardiovascular Health – Because Rocket yoga is a fast-paced and dynamic practice, it is an intense cardio workout. The fast flows and inversions elevate your heart rate and increase circulation, improving heart health.
  2. Improves flexibility – Combining breath awareness and mindful movement helps improve flexibility and mobility in the muscles and joints.
  3. Builds strength – Rocket Yoga sequences feature challenging poses that target various muscle groups. It also focuses on inversions and arm balances, postures that help build strength and endurance in the core and upper body.
  4. Enhances energy levels and vitality—Rocket Yoga sequences are designed to invigorate the body and stimulate prana (energy flow). Thus, many practitioners practice Rocket Yoga in the morning to energize and prepare for the day.
  5. Regulates stress reduction and emotional balance – Rocket yoga emphasizes connection to the breath and the present moment. This helps to promote a sense of calmness and relaxation, leaving you feeling more centered and grounded.
  6. Increases focus and mental clarity – As you concentrate on your breath, movement, and alignment, your mind becomes clearer. This mental clarity carries over into your daily life, helping you stay focused on tasks for longer.
  7. Promotes self-awareness and mindfulness – As you become more aware of your body and breath, you foster a deeper connection with yourself, promoting personal growth and self-discovery.
7 benefits of Rocket Yoga 1. Boosts Cardiovascular Health 2. Improves flexibility 3. Builds strength 4. Enhances energy levels and vitality 5. Regulates stress reduction and emotional balance 6. Increases focus and mental clarity 7. Promotes self-awareness and mindfulness.

Absolutely! In fact, I feel that Rocket Yoga is a better style for beginners than Ashtanga.

Despite focusing on advanced postures, Rocket Yoga encourages you to feel empowered in their practice. Rocket Yoga teachers offer various modifications , making the style accessible and fun to yogis of all levels. 

That being said, if you prefer gentle, slow yoga practices like Hatha and Yin, Rocket yoga may not be for you.

Rocket yoga incorporates many asanas from the Ashtanga method. So learning this style is easier if you already have basic knowledge of Ashtanga yoga.

However, if you don't, don't fret!

Here are a few elements of rocket yoga you can familiarise yourself with before your first class:

  • Breath awareness – Rocket yoga is fast and vigorous, so you'll need to develop a good connection with your breath to maintain your stamina. Get into the habit of doing so now by taking a few minutes to breathe deeply, focusing on the inhalation and the exhalation.
  • Sun salutations – The rocket yoga sequence starts with Surya Namaskar A and B, also known as sun salutations. These standing sequences build heat to prepare the body for the following asanas. You can learn these sequences by following a YouTube tutorial like this one for Surya Namaskar A.

Remember that Rocket yoga is an intense and challenging practice. Thus, listening to your body and respecting its limitations is essential, especially when you are starting out.

  • Observe your body's signals. If you feel sharp or shooting pain, ease out of the pose.
  • Don't push yourself too hard; Take breaks, modify poses, or skip them whenever needed.
  • Don't compare yourself to other practitioners or try to keep up with them. Everyone progresses through their practice at their own pace, so stay focused on yourself only.

Rocket yoga is a fabulous yoga practice for anyone who loves the dynamic nature of Vinyasa yoga or the challenge of Ashtanga. 

Regular Rocket yoga can help you progress faster in your asana practice, mastering some of the most challenging yoga postures. So, if handstands and arm balances excite and energize you, you'll love Rocket Yoga!

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Gemma
Gemma

Gemma is a Certified Yoga Teacher of over 5 years. Aside from being a CYT 200, Gemma is also certified in Yin and Yoga Nidra. Gemma is passionate about sharing her expertise of yoga and wellness through words, guiding others along the path of personal and spiritual development. She is in LOVE with everything related to personal-growth and psychology. Aside from helping others find more peace and stillness, Gemma runs a kitten rescue project in Thailand, where she is currently residing. Gemma can be reached at gemmac@theyogatique.com, or you can connect with Gemma on LinkedIn.

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