Why yoga is so popular now - Rod Stryker
Having taught yoga for 35 years, Rod Stryker says the practice is needed more than ever in today's high-stress world.
Stryker leads corporate seminars and yoga retreats when not teaching at home in Colorado.
The veteran practitioner will visit New Zealand during Waitangi Weekend to deliver five yoga sessions at Wanderlust Great Lake Taupo.
Stryker said he's seen yoga's popularity rise over the last 15 years. The activity is popular because it works, he said.
"I think that life is getting more challenging in many ways. People are looking for ways to meet the challenges of their lives, And exercise by itself, although wonderful, doesn't address all the needs people have."
Stryker said posture was a central focus for yoga, but he aimed do more than stretch the muscles.
"I was taught was about using the body to affect the muscles and then how we affect the mind, and then how we affect the subtle energy that affects the body.
"Yogis call it [the energy] prana. If you go to an acupuncturist, they'll call it chi. The truth is, if a yoga class makes us feel better, there's a good chance that is because our energy is moving more fluidly through us."
Peoples' sedentary lifestyles restricted more than their just movement and their muscles, Stryker said.
"That has an effect not just on our bodies, but on how that energy moves through us.
"The enjoyment we get from yoga – that has everything to do with the fact that we've moved prana," he said.
Different types of yoga sequences could be used to unlock energies in different parts of the body, he said.
"In some classes, it's great to be more energised and to feel more empowered and self-confident. At the same times, there's plenty of times we want to slow down, calm down, and take deep breaths,
"Depending on what we want to achieve, we'll create a different sequence to achieve that desired outcome," he said.
"That's the heart and soul of what I try to give people in their yoga practices, so it's a more complete experience."
Stryker started teaching yoga 1976 at the age of 19, a year after he attended his first class.
Younger people could gain a lot from practicing yoga too, he said.
"Our world is not getting any easier. Symptoms of stress that are usually experienced by adults now often experienced by teenagers.
"If we get them involved in yoga, we can give theme the tools the navigate life and enjoy the journey of being a young person more effectively."
Although it's his first time to New Zealand, Stryker has performed at Wanderlust festivals in the United States for the last five years.
While there are now other yoga/music fusion festivals in America, Wanderlust had its own special features, like the Speakeasy lecture series, he said.
"One of the things that is noteworthy about Wanderlust – and that they've added of value – is that they're creating an arm of education," he said.
"They're trying to create a sense of what our culture needs and who are the thought-leaders. The've organised these Ted Talk-style symposiums at festivals, which are called Speakeasys.
"There's a lot of great ideas being shared that are bigger than just the experience of the festival, but speak as to how we live our lives in between festivals."