Larry Schultz

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Larry Schultz

Larry Schultz (November 14, 1950 – February 27, 2011) was an American teacher of modern yoga.[1] Schultz, originally trained by K. Pattabhi Jois in Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, is primarily recognized as a creator of a variant of that style, Rocket Yoga.[2] As a result he was also known as Rocket Man.[3]

Early life[edit]

Schultz lived in Austin, Texas in the late 1970s and early 1980s working as an insurance salesman before he started yoga. His first encounter with yoga was at age 29 when in the Caribbean he met Cliff Barber who was practising Ashtanga Yoga's advanced 4th series outdoors. Schultz, who said that at that time he "had drug issues",[4] was impressed that a man of Barber's age was so evidently fit and had a "young girlfriend".[4]

K. Pattabhi Jois years[edit]

Schultz with his guru, Pattabhi Jois

When he was 31, Schultz heard that K. Pattabhi Jois, a pupil of the "grandfather of modern yoga" Krishnamacharya and founder of Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga, was to visit Austin in a few months' time [in 1982]. He took up yoga under a teacher in the city to prepare for meeting Jois. He worked hard at yoga under Jois at that meeting, and for eight years after that. Jois however said that there were three kinds of student: the best, who can do everything in 7 years; the next, who need 12 years; and the worst—and he looked at Schultz—who will take 25 years. Schultz took this as meaning that by the time he reached the age of 56 his life would change "completely" for the better, and in his view it did.[4]

The Bad Man of Ashtanga Yoga[edit]

In 1989 Schultz returned to San Francisco and started to teach Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga from his home. Schultz believed that all students should get access to all poses, which was in conflict with Jois's Mysore style, in which teachers were authorized to give a student a new pose to practice only after the teacher felt the student had mastered the previous one. Schultz instead taught a modified version of Ashtanga Yoga in which each of his classes incorporated poses from all 3 of the traditional Ashtanga Series with all students welcome to try all poses. As a result, Jois called Schultz "The Bad Man of Ashtanga Yoga," due to Schultz's interest in practicing and teaching 2nd and 3rd Series poses not yet authorized by Jois.[5][6][7] Schultz gave priority to opening the joints to reduce the risk of injury when stretching muscles.[8]

Grateful Dead[edit]

In the mid 1990s Schultz traveled on tour with the rock band Grateful Dead as their personal yoga teacher until Jerry Garcia died. In an interview in Deadhead magazine, Phil Lesh credits Ashtanga with having a real effect on the band's music and giving him a new feeling of centeredness.[9][10] It was Weir who encouraged Schultz to write his first book on yoga, Ashtanga Yoga As Taught by Shri K. Pattabhi Jois.[11]

The Mayor of Folsom Street[edit]

In 1991 Schultz founded It's Yoga at 848 Folsom Street in San Francisco. At It's Yoga he created a promotional package called "90 days for 90 dollars." At the time yoga was mostly practised by small groups in homes: Schultz's studio pioneered the concept of teaching yoga in health clubs. It's Yoga on Folsom Street attracted celebrities such as San Francisco 49ers players and Christy Turlington. In 2002 It's Yoga moved downstairs to a larger space in the same building at 848 Folsom street. Schultz's notoriety in the South of Market, San Francisco area led him gain a second nickname, "The Mayor of Folsom Street."[12][13][14]

Rocket Yoga[edit]

Schultz became known for creating The ROCKET series. The Rocket series takes poses from first, second and third series of Ashtanga and resequences them around the joints of the body.[15][16] Some consider The ROCKET sequences to be the origin of Power Yoga.[17] Schultz said of his teaching philosophy:

There is nothing more satisfying to me as a teacher than to watch the glow with which people arise from Savasana. Often people walk into It's Yoga with worry, stress and tiredness written all over their faces but when they leave, they show the effects of Ashtanga Yoga: they feel better and look better, lighter, freer, more relaxed and energized. This is why to me, teaching Ashtanga Yoga is a kind of self-realization; every time I lead class I, as a teacher, grow and express the insights of my own yoga. I see people take in the practice from various angles and develop, change and transcend their limitations, realize their possibilities.

— Larry Schultz[1][18]

Later years[edit]

Schultz in Florence with his wife

In 2009 It's Yoga San Francisco closed. In these final years Schultz and his wife Marie Russel focused on their global 200-hour Rocket Yoga teacher training program, which graduated more than 5000 students, including many who became well-known yoga teachers, at 15 yoga studios.[1][19] He was known for "his signature mix of humor and discipline, generosity and firmness—and above all, kindness".[1]

Schultz died of natural causes on February 27, 2011 in Toledo, Ohio.[2]


Larry Schultz teaching in San Francisco

Schultz is recognized as one of the creators of Power Yoga.[17][20] Schultz left behind a global network of yoga studios operating under his brand, It's Yoga. His students, including Amber Gean-Marie Espelage[21] and David Kyle,[22] continue to share the Rocket tradition.

Books and videos[edit]

  • Ashtanga Out of the Box book and DVD series, 1998
  • Rocket Vinyasa Yoga video, with David Kyle, 2004
  • Schultz, Larry (2000). Ashtanga Yoga as taught by Shri K. Pattabhi Jois. San Francisco: Nauli Press. ASIN B000E6XBKQ.
  • Rocket II DVD led by Schultz, 2006


  1. ^ a b c d "Iconic Bay Area Yoga Teacher Dies / Yoga Buzz / Yoga Blog / Yoga Journal". 2011-03-02. Retrieved 2011-04-13.
  2. ^ a b "Remember Larry". Retrieved 2011-04-29.
  3. ^ "In loving memory of Larry Schultz - Rocket Man". Rocket Vinyasa Yoga. Retrieved 18 May 2019.
  4. ^ a b c Crooks, Deborah. "Reviews | Yoga Teachers | Larry Schultz". Yogi Times San Francisco. Retrieved 22 April 2019.
  5. ^ "The Mayor of Folsom St.: Larry Schultz," All Voices Magazine June 2009
  6. ^ Neems, Patrick (September 2007). Larry Schultz:Bad Man of Ashtanga Yoga, The Yoga Abum
  7. ^ Youtube Video: In loving memory of Larry Schultz-Rocket Man
  8. ^ Crooks, Deborah. "Reviews | Yoga Teachers | Larry Schultz". Yogi Times San Francisco. Retrieved 21 April 2019.
  9. ^ Dodd, David; Spaulding, Diana. The Grateful Dead Reader. Oxford University Press, 2002.
  10. ^ Anne Cushman, "Power Yoga", Yoga Journal, January/February 1995 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-12-19. Retrieved 2014-08-12.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ Schultz, Larry (2000). Ashtanga Yoga as taught by Shri K. Pattabhi Jois. San Francisco: Nauli Press. p. 4. ASIN B000E6XBKQ.
  12. ^ Turlington, Christy; Thurman, Robert A. F. (31 March 2005). Living Yoga: Creating a Life Practice. Penguin. ISBN 978-0-14-101108-0.
  13. ^ de la Luna, Fantasma (2009-06-23). "The Mayor of Folsom St.: Larry Schultz:". Archived from the original on 2012-10-04. Retrieved 2011-04-13.
  14. ^ "Larry Schultz (1950-2011) & Marie Russel". It's Yoga. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
  15. ^ Lurey, David. "The Rocket, a tribute to Larry Schultz". Ekhart Yoga. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  16. ^ Kyle, David (6 June 2013). "What is Rocket Yoga?". David Kyle. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  17. ^ a b "AsanaTM," Yoga Journal, Dec 2003, page 156
  18. ^ "Larry Schultz 1950–2011". It's Yoga. 7 March 2011. Retrieved 22 April 2019.
  19. ^ "Larry Schultz". It's Yoga. Retrieved 20 April 2019.
  20. ^ Singleton, Mark (2010). Yoga body : the origins of modern posture practice. Oxford University Press. p. 176. ISBN 978-0-19-539534-1. OCLC 318191988.
  21. ^ "About Amber Gean-Marie Espelage". Yoga Alliance. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  22. ^ "Bio". Progressive Ashtanga Yoga. Retrieved 14 May 2019.

External links[edit]