on the mat: Rod Stryker’s The Four Desires – a ParaYoga Intensive

Congrats to Jessica from The Blueberry Bison – entry #233 – new winner: Heather, entry 34 – for winning the Locavore event tickets giveaway


Five days later and I’m still trying to find the right words to sum up my weekend.

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Fellow Nishkama Yoga teacher Kevin and I arrived in Cincinnati on Friday evening after a leisurely afternoon of road tripping down I-71. We found our way to our primary destination for the weekend, YogahOME Mariemont, where Rod Stryker, one of the most distinguished yoga and meditation teachers in the country, was leading a yoga intensive around his book, The Four Desires: Creating a Life of Purpose, Happiness, Prosperity and Freedom.

To sum up the intensive – from the Para Yoga website:

The Four Desires is nothing less than a roadmap to achieving your most fulfilled life, a process that teaches you how to embody and share with the world your own unique expression of yoga’s most essential teachings, namely auspiciousness––a life of happiness and success. In short, this is a weekend that will empower you to fulfill your destiny.”

With a description like that, you might not be to surprised to know that  I consider the fifteen hours I spent in the YogahOMe studio to be… well, not to sound too cheesy: fairly epic and transformative.

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In those three days, Rod lead his 80 some students through precise steps for each of us to individually discover our soul’s unique purpose – also known as our dharma.  Those fifteen hours were filled with more thinking than movement.  More writing than sweating.  More breathing and meditation than physical asanas.  We practiced Jñāna yoga – the knowledge of self-knowledge – which is harder than any hot vinyasa yoga class you’ll ever take.  So while you might expect a weekend filled with only a handful of warrior poses to be pretty easy, this process was incredibly taxing in every possible way.

rod at yogahOMe

Picture c/o Ashley at YogahOME via her Instagram page – I swear it doesn’t look like it, but this is hard work, people.

Promoted as a “deep and life-changing event”, the billing proved to be true – this was a yoga training like no other.  I can’t go into all the writing exercises of celebrating and questioning my life, the considerations and conversations between Kevin and me, the moment when I found myself raising my hand to work through my personal dharma code with Rod in front of those 80 other people (once an over-sharer, always an over-sharer). 

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Hard work calls for serious eats. I don’t always eat coconut chip ice cream, but when I do, it’s at Graeter’s.

I can share I came to seriously realize (& claim) my need for more self-acceptance, less perfection and more embracing of present situations. So how do you take these HUGE life lessons – uncovered in a place that doesn’t feel like anywhere close to your home environment – and put them into practice in your regular day life?

Sunday night, I was committed. Monday, I was inspired. Tuesday, I was thoughtful yet slipping. Wednesday, I fell back deep into some old habits. The exact last tactic we talked about at the workshop – seeding the gap by stopping those destructive behaviors – I was failing at miserably.

And then on Thursday, this newly posted YouTube video by Rod reminded me what I needed to do: “the student’s job is to practice.”  And the definition of practice? Repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it. (Thanks Google.)

The shift doesn’t come over night. It doesn’t come in five days. It doesn’t come from being wishy-washy.

The shift happens when you buckle down. When you commit. And when you take action. And sometimes when you don’t.

It’s time to dig deeper. To be the best version of myself that I can be. It’s time to #dothework.

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  1. Alisha @ Alisha's Appetite says:

    Wow, what an incredible experience. I love that the retreat focused more on life’s biggest questions that the physical aspect of yoga.

    “The student’s job is to practice”- this is a great reminder that learning to accept yourself and be in the present is always a work in progress. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Ronni says:

    One of my favorite teachers here in Chicago–Mia Park–Rod Stryker is HER teacher. She teaches weekend Four Desires workshops every quarter. I haven’t been to one yet but I plan on it soon. I’m glad you had a great experience!

    Visiting from the Saturday Share Fest. 😀 Namaste!

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