Curious about Tantra? Then make Rod Stryker's new CD set, Tantra: The Radiant Soul of Yoga, a must-listen. Stryker is a modern yoga master, a student of Pandit Rajmani Tigunait, and a teacher in the lineage of Swami Rama of the Himalayan Institute. Like Anusara founder John Friend, Stryker has created a form of yoga that seamlessly marries ancient philosophical ideas with the intense physicality of a modern practice. This program offers a comprehensive overview of Stryker's system: ParaYoga.
As the title suggests, these discs focus on the teachings of Tantra, the yogic philosophy—or "worldview," as Stryker would prefer to call it—that aims to tear down the wall between the physical and spiritual worlds. The recordings were made over the course of a weeklong retreat in Asheville, North Carolina, and the 113 separate tracks include both active practice sessions and dharma talks. There's not much in the way of organization here—the program is recorded exactly as it was presented to the students—but submit to the rambling ride, and you'll find that the discs provide an overview of some of yoga's more powerful technologies, including mantra, mudras (sacred hand gestures), pPranayama (breathing techniques), meditation, and, yes, asana.
With his easygoing, conversational style, Stryker is able to render advanced philosophical ideas and esoteric concepts understandable, delivering one "aha!" moment after another. His special gift is the ability to make the concepts of subtle anatomy seem utterly practical, effectively grounding the ineffable. Listen, and you will not only know what the chakras, vayus, nadis, koshas, and gunas are all about, but also exactly how they apply to you, in your life and on the mat.
The editing is uneven in spots, and the visual clues are sparse—the short pamphlet included with the CDs provides track names and two simple illustrations. But there is a 67-page training manual that has diagrams and detailed instruction for all the practices to help you follow along and keep note taking to a minimum.
Stryker's relaxed attitude and precise instructions make it easy enough to stay engaged—whether he's talking you through one of the five 2-hour asana, pranayama, and meditation practices or introducing you to the intricacies of the kundalini process. Stryker also includes a Yoga Nidra practice and 47 talks on the theory and science behind his approach. It is necessary that you keep your attention focused, especially if you don't have your own continuous week to devote to the process. But listening to and practicing with Stryker is uplifting and fun. He delivers the heart of yoga here—and even the secret of life (it's on disc 4)—for those with ears to hear.
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