The word “Guru”is a term many are familiar with. Across the globe, Guru is accepted as an alternate term for a Spiritual teacher or guide, especially to address a spiritual leader who has many followers. Traditionally, in Sanskrit, “Gu” means darkness, ignorance, and “Ru” means one who removes. A Guru is thus responsible to guide his disciple from darkness into light, from ignorance to wisdom.
“Guru Brahma Guru Vishnuhu Guru Devo Maheswaraha Guru Saakshaat Parabrahma Tasmai Sri Gurave Namahe”
The above quoted text stresses on the significance of Guru as that of the creator, Brahma, who instills knowledge in the disciple, Guru also being Vishnu, the caretaker of the creation, ensuring the disciple evolves, and acquires more knowledge and wisdom, and finally referring to Shiva, the destroyer, one who ensures the disciple is free from ego and has vanquished his ignorance completely.
How relevant then is a “Yoga Guru”?
Do you think you need a Guru at all or any certified teacher who enthralls you with their stretches and hand stands would do? Likewise, how relevant is a student’s devotion to his teacher? Is the teacher at the Yoga studio just a guide to help you attain perfection in your posture or is he/she responsible for something more? How does one know what to look for in a teacher, and how does a teacher know that the student craves for more than just perfection in postures?
If we believe that we should look for God within, then shouldn’t we seek the Guru which is within us?
When the heart and mind unite, realisation dawns and, ‘the grace rushes forth, spouting as from a spring within you.’ – Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi
Exploring Mind and Body through Yoga:
There is an outburst of emotions and energy as one progresses with any form of physical training, because of the mind, body and breath connection. This emotional outburst is even more in Yoga as the postures have equal impact on both body and mind. It is thus very normal to have emotional outbreaks during your Yoga practice. It is one of the purposes of Yoga, to accept oneself completely and become aware. But Yoga also teaches us detachment and gives us the power to find the inner guide within.
Today, it is not possible to practice Yoga exactly as per the scriptures and it is certainly difficult to trust any Yoga teacher wholly and accept them as your spiritual guide, no matter how blissful and green their studio is. But you have to make a start. So, if you have already enrolled yourself at a Yoga studio… well done! You have taken the first step. As the famous adage goes, when the time is right, Yoga will find you!
Understanding the real concept of Yoga
Now, make an honest attempt to read about the actual philosophy of Yoga. Ask your Yoga studio for book references, listen to your teacher when they talk about the asanas rather than just jumping from one posture to another, become aware of the changes you see in yourself, clarify your doubts with the teacher and let them know you are interested in taking your Yoga practice to another level. A good teacher will always guide you to the right place. The role of contemporary Yoga teachers, vastly, is that of Brahma, instilling the knowledge in you by sharing the effects and techniques of the asanas, pranayama, and dhyana. Seldom will you come across a teacher who belongs to a lineage, but if you do, learn about their philosophy and approach, see if it is something you agree to.
Else, keep searching with an open mind and a heart filled with love. A truth seeker will eventually be found by the right Guru; Guru not necessarily in a physical form, but the one which has always been present in your heart.