written by Marie Russel
Lately there has been a lot of social media posting of trainings, classes in “Rocket Yoga.” It reminds me of how Larry Schultz, (the creator of It’s Yoga® and The Rocket®, 1950-2011) used to say that you should never put your name in front of “Yoga”.
I am also reminded of when Larry was invited to Kripalu to share The Rocket.® They published marketing materials calling his event, “Lift off into the New Year with Rocket Vinyasa Yoga.” At first, he thought it was great, “look at this Inny “(his nick-name for me), “The Rocket is its own Yoga now!”
Then he contemplated, as most Yoga masters do, and had me call Kripalu to see if we could get it changed. “Never put your name in front of Yoga” he said. “That’s why we call it “It’s Yoga, ” because It’s about the Yoga. The Rocket® is a part of It’s Yoga.” And It’s Yoga, is a progressive, modern perspective on Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga.
The Rocket® originated as a series that Larry created when he was on tour with the Grateful Dead. The Rocket® is a sequence that brought advanced postures of ASHTANGA VINYASA YOGA to beginners. The Rocket® is based in a faster tempo, and is comprised of 3 main routines, Rocket 1, 2 and 3 and their variations. The routines evolved over time, and as Larry continued to teach them to the members of the band, he asked Bob Weir, “what should we call this Bob?” And he said, “The ROCKET! ”
And that is why we still call it “The Rocket®.” Larry brought The Rocket® Routines back to It’s Yoga SF when he came home from touring with the Grateful Dead. Some old time students remember the controversy of changing the Primary series/second series/third sequences of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. Purists in the Ashtanga Vinyasa community left, and many more were attracted to this fun and inclusive practice at It’s Yoga. The practitioners at It’s Yoga got seriously strong, and it happened at Rocket speed, no pun intended. Over the years, people started to literally fly.
And it was all happening at It’s Yoga San Francisco, The Rocket blasted off each day at 4:30 in the afternoon. It really wasn’t practiced anywhere else. When Larry started to teach teacher trainings around 1996-1997, people began to come from all over the world. They loved It’s Yoga and The Rocket. The energy, the people, the practice. It’s Yoga SF was the 3rd Yoga studio in SF and there are now over 140 in the Bay Area. Larry’s classes were full, loving and transformational and It’s Yoga SF was a unique and beautiful space to welcome people to each day.
As It’s Yoga grew internationally, more and more people requested Rocket Trainings. The It’s Yoga 200 Hr. is based in Ashtanga Vinyasa, and has its own genius around how to modify the practice for western practitioners. Larry started getting together a manual, and some videos, and began offering trainings in The Rocket® for people who graduated the It’s Yoga 200 Hr Training. It was so important to have the foundation of the 200 Hr. Larry knew there was no way teach people in 5-10 days, without that basic It’s Yoga training under their belt. Even then, it was clear, more and more training was essential to maintain authenticity and establish trust with those taking The Rocket® out into the world.
Larry really wanted to have standards and organization for It’s Yoga and The Rocket. He trademarked It’s Yoga® and as he liked to say, he “ran out of money” in the process of trademarking The Rocket! The Rocket ® is now a registered trademark (another article on this coming soon). IYI has spent considerable time and energy to bring The Rocket® full circle, and I am confident to say with certainty, that Larry is in LOVE with the fact the IYI has created 300 Hr. and 500 Hr. Programs to offer a comprehensive program in the It’s Yoga Rocket System.
Larry often shared, “practice what you teach, and teach what you practice.” It sounds so simple, however, we see every day, those trained in one thing, teaching another. Our Trainings are designed to support people in becoming great practitioners, on and off the mat. The Rocket® deserves that and more, after all, It’s Yoga!
The bottom line, The Rocket® and It’s Yoga® are in a sacred union. They go together like peanut butter and jelly, shiva and shakti, yin and yang. Larry brought The Rocket home to It’s Yoga in the early 1990s, and It’s Yoga nurtured, expanded, and took The Rocket® out the door and into the world. That’s a beautiful thing. Many people believed It’s Yoga was Larry, and with him gone, it does not exist anymore. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Larry used to say, I am not “It’s Yoga…..I work for It’s Yoga! Each day I wake up and say, ‘How can I serve It’s Yoga today?…” It’s Yoga is the rock from which The Rocket® takes off. It’s Yoga and The Rocket came through Larry, they are his gifts to the planet and they belong to the Universe. IYI is fully devoted to maintaining their legacy and authenticity.
And thus, as the steward of It’s Yoga, it is my request, and invitation, that those that want to teach The Rocket, come to It’s Yoga to learn of its ESSENCE. So when people ask you, what’s “The Rocket,” you will know with your whole heart, It’s Yoga.