Tantra as a Personal Transformation

By Kate Aughenbaugh

Before I began my Tantra Shakti teacher training with Rod Stryker, I was working with the Wild Unknown tarot regularly and I consistently pulled the Tower, which represents unexpected and uncontrollable upheaval. It is illustrated on the card as a lighting bolt splintering a tree. I had a turbulent and uneasy relationship with this card until a few days ago when I changed my perspective with the help of tantric practice. Today, wondering how best to explain the practice and what Tantra is to me, I pulled a card that I had never pulled before, Strength; a refreshing change from my well-worn Tower. Strength, as you can see from the title page of this document, is depicted with a lion, rose in mouth, infinity symbol in its third eye and rays of light beaming down overhead. It was perfect because it represents the ability to unleash Shakti (strength) to overcome limitations.

I pulled my old pal the Tower during the Tantra Shakti training and for the first time I didn’t want to fling the card across the room or burn it so that I couldn’t pull it from the deck again. I smiled. I recognized that all of the structures that I had built and dismantled along with the fears and paradoxes that I had come in sharp contact with, had a beauty of their own and had pushed me in the direction that would allow me to recognize my Shakti strength to weather the storm. I began to intuitively make tantric choices that were safe, sustainable, and elevating to accept and expand beyond my tower and transform my life.

Tantra translates to ‘stretch beyond limits’ and also to ‘weaving’. It acknowledges that we have conditions and limitations and it provides a way of allowing Shakti, that resides within us, to expand beyond these limitations. Tantra weaves the technology of many time-tested practices. However, it doesn’t stop there. It’s a living tradition and if something is safe, sustainable, and elevates you, it can be considered tantric.

Much like the infinity symbol depicted in the lion’s third eye, Tantra embraces both dual and non-dual reality. There are clearly two separate circles, part of one symbol; there is no separation between the divine and material. I have also applied this view to the imagery of light and dark; the two can’t exist without the other and are one in the same. Rod said several times during the training that when he meets with his teachers they are rarely interested in his meditation practice or transcendent experiences. Instead, they want to know about his life because life is the place where one has the opportunity to experience divinity.

Tantra methodology and philosophy is how I am able to expand my courage to begin to investigate, honor, and accept my fears and the mind boggling puzzles that they present so that I can soothe and balance them in order to not be controlled by them. Much of our focus during the training was using technique to awaken and expand light energy. As I reflected on practice throughout the course, my self-confidence, alertness, and perception of the dualistic world were transforming as my inner practice was brightening. My perception towards the Tower was changing. You know Tantra is thriving when you find more joy, fearlessness in your life, and that the amount of time between creating an intention and the intention manifesting is shortening. The Tower will always be a part of my deck, along with all of the other archetypes and scenarios available in this divine life.

Please follow and like us:
20

Rod Stryker's Tantra Shakti Training

Mind Fish +  Prana Fish

by Kameko Shibata

To be honest, I have few words to describe the Tantra Shakti Master Teacher Training with Rod Stryker. (Mostly because I’m still floating in spinal bliss and mantras keep ringing in my ears).

The best I can come up with is: life changing. There isn’t one thing to pinpoint, there are many. First of all, its an honor to study with a teacher who himself has a teacher and is connected to a lineage. He is also a down to earth, normal guy.  In the west we experience yoga as asana based and often made up by various teachers. There is nothing wrong with “making things up”, and many teacher are excellent at making up styles, brands, etc., but there is something deeply grounded and sacred in teachings and lineage that have thousands of years of history. When you study in India, you feel the connection to nature, history, cosmology and the whole universe. When you study with Rod Stryker that same connection emanates through his teachings.

Rod Stryker is the founder of ParaYoga and his lineage, sri vidya, is tantra based. Like most, I wasn’t sure what tantra even was. In the US people thinks it’s about sex (that’s one tiny branch of one style!). I learned that tantra is about the cultivation of power – the power of shakti, the feminine energy of the world. Shakti is manifested through the cultivation of prana, or prana shakti. Yoga on the other hand,  as seen in the Yoga Sutras, is a mind based practice. It basically says “learn to understand and balance the mind, and then meditative states arise.” Tantra says “learn to understand and move prana shakti, and the mind will follow.”  In this training we cultivated prana through powerful meditations, visualizations, pranayama, asana and mantra (the most important tool in ParaYoga).  The asana isn’t too challenging or too frequent, but deep. For asana Rod draws on the vinyasa krama system of Krishnamacharya, where breath and sound is linked with dynamic movement. I align and draw on that system having also studied at the Krishnamacharya Mandiram.

I left this training with two simply profound take-aways:

  • He used the metaphor of the mind and energy (prana) as two fish always swimming after each other, chasing each other around.  Through tantra ones learn to cultivate the energy (prana) through the yogic practices and the mind will follow. This was revolutionary because most of the time we are so worried about our minds and alignment in asana, we forget to trust that we just need to move the breath, body, energy and the mind will follow!

  • Tantra aims to weave the mundane and the spiritual together into the tapestry of life. It’s so easy for our practice to be a sacred beautiful ritual and the rest of life to feel like a drag. Beginning to weave the elements of practice, the movement of breath, and the belief that all is sacred into our daily lives, we can live a much more fulfilling life even when we’re not on the mat. I’ve been really working on seeing everything as a sacred ritual, and low and behold it makes chores less annoying! Bottom line: who cares if you can put your foot behind your head if you’re mean to your kids afterwards?

I am so grateful to leave this training feeling inspired to teach the way I want too! When I came back from India I knew I needed to teach the practice of chanting om and moving, which most of you have done if you’ve been in my class. I was nervous- because its different. Teaching bandhas, philosophy, mantra, chanting and pranayama in a world of pop music power yoga is scarey. Sometimes I wonder if students really crave just a fun workout…. But I believe what most of us truly crave is authenticity.That’s what I appreciate about Rod Stryker, his authenticity. Both pop power vinyasa and this deeper style can be done authentically, if you have a teacher who is practicing, connected and inspired!

Catch you on the mat.  Hari om!
For more inspiration, free recipes, and events  visit Kameko’s website: www.kamekoarts.com

 

Please follow and like us:
20

Rod Stryker’s Tantra Shakti Training

Mind Fish +  Prana Fish

by Kameko Shibata

To be honest, I have few words to describe the Tantra Shakti Master Teacher Training with Rod Stryker. (Mostly because I’m still floating in spinal bliss and mantras keep ringing in my ears).

The best I can come up with is: life changing. There isn’t one thing to pinpoint, there are many. First of all, its an honor to study with a teacher who himself has a teacher and is connected to a lineage. He is also a down to earth, normal guy.  In the west we experience yoga as asana based and often made up by various teachers. There is nothing wrong with “making things up”, and many teacher are excellent at making up styles, brands, etc., but there is something deeply grounded and sacred in teachings and lineage that have thousands of years of history. When you study in India, you feel the connection to nature, history, cosmology and the whole universe. When you study with Rod Stryker that same connection emanates through his teachings.

Rod Stryker is the founder of ParaYoga and his lineage, sri vidya, is tantra based. Like most, I wasn’t sure what tantra even was. In the US people thinks it’s about sex (that’s one tiny branch of one style!). I learned that tantra is about the cultivation of power – the power of shakti, the feminine energy of the world. Shakti is manifested through the cultivation of prana, or prana shakti. Yoga on the other hand,  as seen in the Yoga Sutras, is a mind based practice. It basically says “learn to understand and balance the mind, and then meditative states arise.” Tantra says “learn to understand and move prana shakti, and the mind will follow.”  In this training we cultivated prana through powerful meditations, visualizations, pranayama, asana and mantra (the most important tool in ParaYoga).  The asana isn’t too challenging or too frequent, but deep. For asana Rod draws on the vinyasa krama system of Krishnamacharya, where breath and sound is linked with dynamic movement. I align and draw on that system having also studied at the Krishnamacharya Mandiram.

I left this training with two simply profound take-aways:

  • He used the metaphor of the mind and energy (prana) as two fish always swimming after each other, chasing each other around.  Through tantra ones learn to cultivate the energy (prana) through the yogic practices and the mind will follow. This was revolutionary because most of the time we are so worried about our minds and alignment in asana, we forget to trust that we just need to move the breath, body, energy and the mind will follow!

  • Tantra aims to weave the mundane and the spiritual together into the tapestry of life. It’s so easy for our practice to be a sacred beautiful ritual and the rest of life to feel like a drag. Beginning to weave the elements of practice, the movement of breath, and the belief that all is sacred into our daily lives, we can live a much more fulfilling life even when we’re not on the mat. I’ve been really working on seeing everything as a sacred ritual, and low and behold it makes chores less annoying! Bottom line: who cares if you can put your foot behind your head if you’re mean to your kids afterwards?

I am so grateful to leave this training feeling inspired to teach the way I want too! When I came back from India I knew I needed to teach the practice of chanting om and moving, which most of you have done if you’ve been in my class. I was nervous- because its different. Teaching bandhas, philosophy, mantra, chanting and pranayama in a world of pop music power yoga is scarey. Sometimes I wonder if students really crave just a fun workout…. But I believe what most of us truly crave is authenticity.That’s what I appreciate about Rod Stryker, his authenticity. Both pop power vinyasa and this deeper style can be done authentically, if you have a teacher who is practicing, connected and inspired!

Catch you on the mat.  Hari om!
For more inspiration, free recipes, and events  visit Kameko’s website: www.kamekoarts.com

 

Please follow and like us:
20