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. The above quoted text stresses on the significance of Guru as that of the creator, Brahma, who instils 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 means, a guide to help you attain perfection in your posture or are they 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.
Going back to the origins of the word Yoga, Yuj – meaning to unite with the divine source, stresses on the significance of training oneself to go back to the roots, to return to where we come from. This journey becomes extremely difficult as since the time of our birth, we continue to move forward, away from our source. As per the ancient scriptures, Lord Shiva, also known as Adi Natha or Adi Guru accepted Parvati, as his student and guided her in her journey of following the eight limbs of Yoga to awaken her seven chakras so she can identify with her source, that of Shakti. This example of primordial Guru and Disciple proves the need to guide and the need to surrender.
Today, things are different. It is not possible to practice Yoga exactly as per the scriptures and it is certainly difficult to trust any Yoga teacher, 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! 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, praynayama 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 dedicated Yogi or Yogini, will eventually be found by the right Guru.