A world-renowned yoga and meditation teacher, Rod Stryker has dedicated the last 40 years of his life to improving the lives of others through his teaching, lectures, writing, leadership, and service.
Rod is the founder of ParaYoga, where he combines authoritative knowledge, direct experience, and accessibility to uplift students and teachers of all levels and society as a whole through yoga and tantra’s time-tested practices. ParaYoga is a living link to the ancient traditions of yoga, meditation, and tantra. Rod Stryker founded ParaYoga after two decades of study, intensive practice, and apprenticeship with yoga master Kavi Yogiraj Mani Finger and his son, Yogiraj Alan Finger. By studying with these world-renowned educators, Rod has become one of only a few Americans guiding people through an authentic, living tradition that has been practiced and passed down from teacher to student for thousands of years.
One of the cornerstones of ParaYoga’s curriculum is their 300-hour ParaYoga Master Training (PYMT) Program, which is considered to be one of the most comprehensive online yoga teacher training programs in the world. Over the course of the program, which takes students around two to three years to complete, students will begin to gain true depth of skill and self-mastery as both a teacher and practitioner.
Rod Stryker continues to share the gifts of his practice, discipleship, and life with a diverse range of audiences. People who want tangible ways to improve their wellbeing and anyone who wants to equip themselves with effective strategies for dealing with the ever-changing demands of modern life are all welcome. One of Rod’s strengths is making ancient wisdom and practices accessible to modern audiences.
In addition to ParaYoga, Rod reaches his audiences through a number of other means as well. He recently created Sanctuary, an app for those who want to experience the life-changing practices of meditation and yoga Nidra, which is also known as “Enlightened Sleep.” Rod Stryker has also authored two books. The first, The Four Desires: Creating a Life of Purpose, Happiness, Prosperity, and Freedom, teaches readers about the soul’s four desires from ancient yoga tradition — the desire for purpose, the desire for the means to prosper, the desire for pleasures, and the desire for spiritual fulfillment and lasting freedom — and how to honor them. The second, Enlightened Sleep, to be published next year, serves as a reader’s guide to better rest and complete wellbeing.
Rod has also written other articles on yoga and meditation, been featured in countless interviews, and attended and presented at various conferences over the years. Both Rod Stryker and ParaYoga also participate in and host a number of events, including livestreams, that people are encouraged to attend — you can find the calendar overview here for a list of upcoming opportunities.
Raised in Los Angeles, California, Rod attended Beverly Hills High School and the University of Denver, in addition to studying abroad. Rod Stryker was 19-years-old when he began his study of yoga. He taught his first class in 1980, and seven years later, he led his first teacher training. Since 1999, Rod has been a student of Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, P.h.D., spiritual head of the Himalayan Institute. This teacher initiated him into the tantric tradition of Sri Vidya.
In addition to mentoring hundreds of teachers and thousands of students worldwide today, Rod Stryker also serves on the board of Give Back Yoga Foundation and is also a featured faculty member of Yoga International.
Where did the idea for ParaYoga come from?
ParaYoga was born from my 25 years of in-depth study and dedicated practice in the ancient tradition of yoga. I realized that a relatively small amount of yoga being practiced in the West was drawing from this philosophy and I wanted to make the full range of practices more available and known to both practitioners and teachers of every level.
I knew firsthand that these practices could (and should) be more accessible and translated in such a way to help people better see its value for their own practice. By making ParaYoga a comprehensive approach, I knew we would have a much bigger impact and be able to positively affect people’s lives in a more significant way. But my intention wasn’t only accessibility, it was also creating a curriculum whereby the whole of yoga could be understood by people wanting to teach it in the most practical and pragmatic ways so they could successfully share strategies that made sense for anyone wanting to improve their quality of life.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My ‘typical day’ has not changed in decades, even when I was raising four children.
I wake up early to catch the sunrise. I practice for approximately two hours — my practice includes asana (or yoga postures), breathing techniques, and meditation. As I meditate, it’s natural, especially in the early stages of practice, for there to be spontaneous insight and inspirations that will tell me what I will focus on that given day. I make it a point either before or with breakfast to write down these thoughts and see where they take me. In other words, the inspiration that unfolds in meditation winds up germinating ideas that I will flush out throughout the day.
I also make sure to eat three healthy meals a day and include time in my day dedicated to exercise. The foundation of my fitness is HIIT workouts, but I also enjoy running in the foothills. For enjoyment, I play tennis at least once a week, spend time with my dog, tend to my rather large and productive vegetable garden, and, if I’m lucky, put in time in the ceramic studio. I still have two children who I co-parent, so I spend a lot of time with them as well. We cook, bike, hang out around the house, and spend time outdoors. I also try to dedicate at least one or two times a week to having dinner with friends.
Before I go to bed, I meditate again to clear my mind to ensure that my sleep is as restful as possible, which is important to my productivity and wellbeing.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Most of my ideas begin in meditation. In the earliest stages of meditation, as the mind is getting quiet, I experience spontaneous insights that spring from my unconscious. The best way to describe this is hearing and seeing answers to questions I haven’t even asked yet.
I take mental notes of these ideas during my practice and then afterward I sit down and “mind map.” Mind mapping is an extraordinary process by which you give your brain, mind, and even your unconscious an opportunity to enter into a creative state. It’s a way of tapping into the well of creativity and discovering answers, ideas, and associations you probably wouldn’t have come up with rationally. As I formulate ideas and prioritize insights, I also begin creating a plan for how to execute them. Many of these ideas will need to be brought to life in collaboration with others, so I bring those that seem relevant to my staff and together we develop a strategy for implementation.
What’s one trend that excites you?
People have begun to understand the importance of rest and turning away from the world and all its goings-ons en masse. They’ve realized the value of turning away from social media, cultivating inner peace, and getting deep rest. The idea of turning inward, or the rule of mindfulness and greater awareness, of slowing down, and of finding inner peace is no longer the exception. The physiological, mental, emotional, and even spiritual benefits of this is now widespread.
More than ever, people are also becoming more aware of the cost and price we pay if we do not follow this principle. In a sense, life has become so stressful for so many that the methods I’ve been teaching for decades now are becoming more widely accepted than ever. This is maybe one of the most hopeful trends of the age we’re living in.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
There’s no question that I’m more productive as an entrepreneur and in every other way because I make time for meditation on a daily basis. Executive function (i.e. critical thinking) is essential to the entrepreneur, but it’s even more vital to turn away from linear thinking to find solutions to ideas that are purely intuitive — that are born from the spark of creativity and are independent of the rational mind.
As Einstein was reported to have said: “Problems cannot be solved from the same level of consciousness that created them.”
Meditation has been my resource for not only creativity and coming up with new ideas, but it’s also been the force of inspiration that continues to move me to bring those ideas to life.
What advice would you give your younger self?
My advice to my younger self would probably be the same advice others would have for themselves.
Fret less. Enjoy more. Trust yourself. Pay attention. Everything is going to work out in the end. Be quick to forgive yourself, but learn from your mistakes because every step of the way is a learning opportunity.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Meditating every day is not difficult. Everyone can do it in the same way that everyone can also take a shower, brush their teeth, or floss. All it takes is the decision to do it and the will to act on that decision. We just need to make it a priority.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I wait for clear, intuitive answers about the best way forward. I gather information and rationalize options, but I wait to act until I have that instinctual sense of the best solution before I proceed forward. The truth is that while I’ve made mistakes, my intuition and my instinct have never been wrong. The problem arises when I don’t follow it.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Simply offer products and resources that are helpful and needed. This has allowed me to go to work everyday and stand in front of people knowing that what I’m offering can be truly beneficial to their lives. I’ve always placed a higher priority on benefiting others than on my company’s bottom line. The more innovative I can be about how I bring these ideas and these offerings to the market, the more successful I am.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Putting faith in partnerships and believing that they can bring ideas to the market better than I can on my own. Sooner or later, my reliance on a partnership to make a business offering successful has always led to disappointment, if not failure. I’ve learned how to delegate and collaborate without giving up my role as a leader entirely and that’s been the path to the greatest success.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A company committed to helping individuals, families, and businesses employ best practices around climate change. It seems as though more and more people are interested in this idea — everything from regenerative gardening practices to eating to shopping to recycling. This would be a consulting business that would help people put these concepts into practice and identify carbon neutral and carbon reducing strategies to reduce our carbon footprint.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Without a doubt it’s my purchase of Lifeline Triple Grip Handles, which allow you to use elastic exercise bands with handles that vary in resistance wherever you are. They are so affordable (around $50) and lightweight and I never go anywhere without them. They’ve helped me maintain upper body strength and give me the feeling of being pumped even while I’m traveling.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Slack. Slack has made it possible for the individual teams in my organization to work autonomously and at the same time keep other teams working on parallel projects informed about everything going on.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“The Power of Us: Harnessing Our Shared Identities to Improve Performance, Increase Cooperation, and Promote Social Harmony” by Dominic J. Packer PhD and Jay J. Van Bavel PhD
This is a powerful, profound, and well-researched book that looks at the neurology and the physiological phenomenon that shape our behaviors and perspectives. It helps elucidate on what it is that brings out the best and, unfortunately, the worst in us as human beings. It turns out that a lot of it is hardwired into our brains. This book also provides insights into how we can rise above our animalistic and tribalistic impulses to be free-thinkers and how we can best engage with others to move good ideas forward.
What is your favorite quote?
“We don’t see things as they are, we see things as we are.” — Anaïs Nin
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.