This month, Parvati Magazine’s Yoga Editor, Ella Isakov, interviewed Rod Stryker, a respected teacher and author within the yoga community, about how yoga helps create vibrancy in life.
Parvati Magazine: You have been teaching for 35 years. What is unique about the lineage that you carry forward and ParaYoga, the yoga school you founded?
Rod Stryker: My lineage is Sri Vidya, perhaps the most comprehensive approach to tantra yoga. It invites us to experience the totality of life, to see and experience the Divine everywhere and to thrive in every aspect of life. It helps us to build self-knowledge while at the same time increasing our access to prana or life force. Thus, it is a path of both knowledge and power, rooted in the ancient revelation that life is inherently beautiful, as well as inherently divine.
ParaYoga is a complete and holistic system rooted in tradition, drawing upon the full spectrum of methodologies, from asana to meditation, from mudra and bandha to kriya, self-inquiry exercises as well as the profound methods of yoga nidra. ParaYoga’s focus is to give people the experience of the potential of yoga practice as well as provide them the tools to understand how and what to practice to maximize its effectiveness so that they thrive and become more masterful in all aspects of life.
PMAG: Your first word as a baby was “light”, and you have dedicated your life to helping others uncover their own light within their hearts. What role does yoga play in this work?
RS: When yoga is practiced holistically, it transforms you at every level. As your mind becomes clearer and more one-pointed, you see the world differently and, most importantly, you understand yourself completely––both the light and dark parts. You then begin the journey of stepping away from those aspects of yourself that are less constructive, and you build your relationship to those parts that are constructive. In the process, your capacity grows. You are evolving.
PMAG: Your book The Four Desires, gives concrete steps for someone to uncover their purpose. How does the physical practice of yoga guide one to accomplish this?
RS: Yoga can enable you to still your distractions and access a deeper core of understanding and self-awareness. In short, the aim of yoga is to enable you to bring meaning and purpose to your life when you are not actually doing yoga. But even if you do yoga that is truly healing, transformative and empowering, you still need to ask yourself life’s most essential questions: “What is the purpose of my life?” “What is my life’s meaning?” That is why I wrote The Four Desires –– to help yoga practitioners and non-practitioners arrive at the answers that are essential for us to know in order to fulfill our reason for being here.
PMAG: Many people struggle with confidence and fears that keep them from pursuing their dreams. What three pieces of advice do you have for people to face their fears, and unleash their inner fire and light?
RS: Become more stable. The sign that your practice is providing stability is that you become less dependent on circumstances for happiness. Thus, you remain calm in the midst of turbulence, certain in the midst of uncertainty and mindful, or able to easily access the sense, that there is always a part of you that is free.
Understand yourself. Be clear, practice to become absolutely clear that your happiness is not dependent on the world. You are inherently content, needing nothing or no one to be content and yet you have a unique purpose and mission in this life––to be fully yourself.
Practice those techniques that bring you closer to your essential nature and that help you tap into your core vitality. Draw courage and strength by knowing yourself and transforming your worldview so that you understand that you are not meant to suffer or be a victim; you are meant to lead with light and positivity and love. These are the qualities that define a “yogi”.
Yogarupa Rod Stryker founded ParaYoga® and authored The Four Desires: Creating a Life of Purpose, Happiness, Prosperity, and Freedom. He has taught for more than 35 years, dedicating his life to improving lives through lectures, writing, creativity, leadership, service and family life. After decades of study, intensive practice and apprenticeship, Rod founded ParaYoga® to create a resource for the time-tested wisdom of the yoga tradition. As part of ParaYoga’s Master Training program, he recently launched one of the most comprehensive online yoga teacher trainings in the world.