By: Shelley Dickerson
When I began practicing Yoga, something brightened inside of me. Yoga was challenging, it put me in uncomfortable positions and taught me how to be comfortable within them, it taught me to breathe. Yoga is not easy. But if it was easy, would it really be worth doing?
This past year, I was introduced to Rocket Yoga and took a Bottle Rocket class. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Even with a 200 hour Yoga Teaching Certification and 9 years of practice under my belt, I felt so many insecurities rise to the surface. My hamstrings are incredibly short, and our sequence included at least 10 different variations of forward bending postures. My upper body strength isn’t amazing, and our sequence included many Chaturanga Dandasana transitions. My core is not very strong, we actively engaged in core work. My chest and shoulders are extremely tight, and we covered a whole sequence of front body openers. I am afraid, or rather I WAS afraid of any type of inversion other than Shoulderstanding and we attempted Forearm Balance or Pincha Mayurasana twice and Headstanding. I thought that my pranayama was strong but I frequently lost my breath and had to dig deep to find it. By the time Savasana arrived, I was spent and my head was spinning. Both positive and negative thoughts ran amuck in my mind. Then a moment came when I realized how wonderful my body felt. I felt exhausted, but strong. I felt inspired. By no means did I master each posture we practiced in the past hour, but how challenging would a class be if I did?
Rocket Yoga is rooted within Sri K. Pattabhi Jois’ Ashtanga Vinyasa practice of Yoga. It is a relatively new style of Yoga, developed in San Francisco in the 1980’s by Larry Schultz, a student of Sri. Pattabhi Jois. The name Rocket Yoga came about when Bob Weir of The Grateful Dead said, “It gets you there faster.” This practice is a combination of the Primary and Intermediate Series of Ashtanga Yoga and also includes key postures from the 3rd and 4th Advanced Series in Ashtanga Yoga. Bottle Rocket is a lighter variation of Rocket Yoga’s set postures and offers some modifications and transitions to help students build into a Rocket Yoga practice.
Being primarily a Vinyasa Flow and Hot Power Flow Yoga practitioner and instructor, Bottle Rocket offered something I had never yet received in a Yoga class- not a push, but a thrust out of my comfort zone, and I loved it. I am able to notice improvements- however small they may be, each time I meet my mat. Yes, there were and still are moments in class when I hear the voice in my head say, “You can’t do this” or “You aren’t strong enough”. But I now know that this is not MY voice. This is my ego doing what it does to feel safe. It perpetuates negativity and self-doubt because that it what keeps the ego alive. If we can learn to stop feeding this ego, to follow the teachings of Swami Sivananda Saraswati, B.K.S. Iyengar, Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois, and so many others, we can learn to become free. Not just free from self-doubt, judgement, competition, and expectations. We can learn to become free from our mind. Just as I thought that my personal practice had reached its peak, I am learning that the journey of a true Yoga practice is endless. There will ALWAYS be challenges, there will ALWAYS be discomfort, but what matters is what you do inside of that space- Let your light shine bright and become the warrior that you are, or let the ego take control. It’s up to you.
I write this article with immense gratitude to Jessica Lyn Young and the amazing team at Evolve Yoga Denver for their love, support, and for reintroducing me to my light.