Yoga Schooled: Tantra Party with Rod Stryker


The workshop was actually called Awakening the Power of Spirit: The Science of Tantra Yoga. Yeah, to me it was a Tantra Party.

I’m sick as I write this, the Universe mercifully having cancelled my shift at work because they’re overstaffed. So now I gratefully guzzle (OK, sip–it’s hot) ginger and honey tea and pore over my notes from a game-changing weekend full of awesome people, glorious meditation and heavy work. Seriously guys, this changed everything, and I don’t even know where to begin.

Friday I was giddy. I had read The Four Desires, had taken a Four Desires workshop with the fabulous ParaYogini Mia Park, and had read all Rod’s articles on HuffPo and Yoga Journal. But nothing could’ve prepared me for all the juicy sensations and information that were about to be downloaded.

Rod adjusting my headstand. Yeah!
Rod adjusting my headstand. Yeah! Via ParaYoga

Here a just a few of the juicy bits I learned from Rod:

1. It’s all about the breath

I know how powerful pranayama can be. Exactly how powerful is still a mystery, but I got a glimpse of it this past weekend. Getting to a quiet place and changing your brain waves are all linked to breath, but Rod took it to a level that I’ve never experienced before. Lengthening the breath, incorporating pauses, and finally bandhas can take a regular pose or pranayama sesh and turn it on its head for a huge, exploratory experience.

2. Asana is just a tool to uncover your Oneness

This one is a bit of an offshoot of the first one. Asana is really heavily emphasized in the states, especially with the yoga-to-get-fit set. Like many people, I began yoga as a supplement to working out, and I’m all for a vigorous vinyasa practice to kick my ass in lieu of going to the gym. Whatever gets you on your mat, I’m down with. But asana was meant to steady the mind and prep the body to sit in comfortably in meditation, so your tight hips wouldn’t pull you away from connecting with your higher self. Focusing on the breath during asana helps reestablish its importance, and if your practice allows, incorporating those pauses and bandhas allows you to tune in on a deeper level.

3. Lighten up

Rod’s humor and lightheartedness was the first thing that struck me when I first met him. His resume is impressive, his knowledge is expansive, he is a master full of insight. If you read his bio, articles and book, all this becomes abundantly clear. But what those things don’t show you is that his handshake is warm and firm, and he is genuinely happy to meet you. His eyes are bright and twinkly and he’s a riotously funny dude.

When you’re connected–or even aware–that there is something beyond you, something all-knowing that is you and connects all of us, one essence from which we originate and still dwell, laughing, playing and not taking things too seriously come a little more easily. It’s easy to lose sight of, and to get wrapped up in how your burger isn’t medium rare or that there’s a deodorant streak on your shirt or that dude hasn’t texted you yet.

Don’t worry about it. This galaxy was around at the beginning of the universe.

4. Relax, yoga is a huge body of knowledge that you will never master in this lifetime.

So just enjoy the ride.

5. Live (love) joyfully.

Your soul chose your body, your parents, your siblings, and your experience. You are exactly what you are meant to be at this moment, this exact expression of the universe. I could go on about how every moment is blessing blahblahgratitudeblah, but really, tapping into your own joy as much as possible is key. At one point, Rod brought up the sun. It shines on everyone, regardless of you want to see the sun or not. Maybe you wish it were rainy or less hot or just a touch overcast. The sun is going to shine it’s little heart out, because that’s what it does. Sunshine is like love, bro, and we’re like our own little suns. (This is where you take a hit from the bowl.) Shining is what you do, loving is what we’re here for. Make connections, be sweet, smile and laugh. Love your face off. Love til you can’t take it anymore. Showing the love makes people feel safe, and people bloom and do nice things when they feel safe. Then they love and it’s a ripple effect. Bam, world changed.

That’s my list. A lot of what I experienced can’t even quite be put into words, and when I try, I sound like a hippie. Oh well. I would absolutely recommend taking advantage of when Rod visits anywhere near you, or at least picking up his book, The Four Desires, which is an amazing read. Oh, and his voice was meant for guided meditation, so see if you can’t track those down as well. /fangirl

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