Yoga Journal: Where would you most like to be doing yoga?
Rod Stryker: On the beach. The real ideal setting is: no place to go and nothing to do but practice.
YJ: What is your daily practice?
RS: I begin with an hour of Pranayama and meditation, then do 45 minutes to 11é2 hours of asana, starting between 4 and 5 a.m.
YJ: Do you set goals for yourself?
RS: When I was younger I did, but over time my perception of my mind and body as separate has fallen away. I measure my practice by my life, and how much peace, compassion, courage, and creativity I can access.
YJ: What type of yoga do you teach?
RS: The physical practice I teach is a blend, mostly influenced from the tributaries of Krishnamacharya (Iyengar, Jois, and Desikachar). But I’m informed less by hatha yoga and more by tantra and the processes of kundalini yoga—the unfolding of energy and spiritual awareness. I look forward to the time when “Atman” and “mantra” will be as common as Trikonasana in the lexicon of American yoga.
YJ: What is your teaching philosophy?
RS: At their core, human beings are a perfect shining light. It’s at once so easy to forget and too important not to remember. My one consistent intention in every class is to transform my students by giving them a glimpse of their essence. It’s not as hard to do as we often think—whenever the mind is still, the experience of the spirit’s boundlessness and peacefulness is recalled.
YJ: Would you share a memorable moment from class?
RS: Since my wife [model Cheryl Tiegs] is probably going to read this, I’d definitely say the first time she came to class. A distant second might be the time a woman started passing out in class. When I got to her, she had this incredibly distant, panicked look in her eyes, but I kept staring into her eyes, forcing her to stay conscious. Somehow I managed to keep the rest of the class doing their Sun Salutations. It turned out she was fasting, not taking her medication, doing yoga for the first time, and she was an epileptic. Afterwards, she told me I had saved her from having an epileptic fit by forcing her to focus.
YJ: Who has influenced you the most?
RS: Although our paths have evolved in different directions the past several years, I’d have to say Alan Finger. I was 21 when I began a very close and in-depth discipleship with him. He and his father (Kavi Yogiraj Mani Finger) guided me into some of the deepest treasures of yogic knowledge and techniques. During the last 10 years, I’d say the greatest influence on me has been life itself.
YJ: Do you know any yoga jokes?
RS: Three yogi hermits are doing a meditative vigil in a cave. One day there’s a sound outside the cave. Six months later, one of the yogis says, “That was a goat.” The cave is silent once again. About a year later, another yogi says, “That wasn’t a goat, that was a mule.” Again, the cave falls silent. About two years later the third yogi says, “If you two don’t stop arguing, I’m leaving.”