The Importance of a Guru on the Path of Yoga

The saints and sages of ancient times evolved and perfected over centuries a system of self-development known as yoga. This unifying objective is achieved through the development of one’s own unique individual potential for Self-realization. Since time immemorial, the science and philosophy of yoga has always been taught by the preceptor to the student – transferred by the grace of the Guru (teacher) to the aspirant or disciple (student). Parampara is the knowledge passed over in succession from the Guru to the disciple. It’s a Sanskrit word that denotes the principle of transmitting knowledge in its most genuine, authentic valuable form; knowledge that is vast and endless, and which is based on direct and practical experience. The Guru and the disciple form the basis or links of this parampara or any lineage: the links in the transmission of knowledge that has been passed down for thousands of years. In order for the path of yoga teachings to be effective, true, and complete, they should come through this Guru-disciple parampara. Traditionally, knowledge could only be transferred after the student had spent several years with an enlightened Guru, to whom he had completely surrendered with his body, mind, and spirit. Only then was he deemed fit to receive the knowledge. 

Over a period of time, the world has far deviated from the real purpose of yoga and the Guru-disciple tradition. How many of us really understand the purpose of yoga? Several hundred of yoga schools are mushrooming in the world which train thousands of people to become yoga teachers, but how many schools really talk about the true essence of yoga? Yoga has now become synonymous with doing some asanas (physical postures), some breathing or meditation techniques, or some other practices. It’s good that the world has retained this ancient wisdom, however, the challenge is not to remain stuck with the techniques but to go beyond and grasp the essence and purpose of yoga. 

Throughout the history of yoga, the authentic Guru has often been regarded as the essential spiritual guide, a living example of the teachings he advocates. In yoga, the genuine spiritual master is one whose mind is the embodiment of spiritual philosophy; one who walks his talk, who lives by what he preaches, who takes on students to teach them what he has learned in life. 

As the word connotes in Sanskrit, Guru is the person who, by his enchanted spiritual genius, is able to help “dispel darkness” and “remove ignorance” from our hearts and minds. 

In other words, a Guru (gu+ru = dispeller of darkness) is one who removes the veil of existence and opens before us the infinite nature of life. The Guru helps divert us from the path of Avidya (ignorance) to Vidya (knowledge). He will remove all doubts and ignorance and transform the vicious samskaras (mental impressions). He does not simply stuff you with knowledge, he kindles life force into you. The Guru invokes and awakes the intelligence, not just the intellect. The pinnacle of intellect is intelligence. When you come to the Guru, seeking stops and blossoming begins. The Guru is presence unlimited, vast, infinite, and all-inclusive. The presence of the Guru in one’s life brings fulfillment to all other relationships. 

The Guru shows you who you are, what your highest possibility is. He helps you dive into your Self and attain your goal – not just show you some techniques or some path in order to do so. The Guru is God incarnate and the doorway to liberation.  

Since there is much skepticism, controversy, and misunderstanding these days about Gurus in the world, it is important to understand the essence of who a Guru actually is. 

There are tons of books, websites, and DVDs on yoga available these days; you can practice some asanas and breathing techniques with their help, but they can’t offer you the true experience of yoga. They have a lot of information but to translate it into experience, one needs a Guru. He makes you feel the true essence of yoga which is beyond techniques. 

Yoga is not just a way to get fit, rather it is a lifestyle–one that requires dedication. Yoga is not just a way to get fit, rather it is a lifestyle–one that requires dedication.  

Now more than ever people are taking up yoga to maintain optimum physical and mental health. After all, in the light of the covid-19 pandemic, immunity is of prime concern.  

If you too are excited to embark on your very own yoga journey, then here are a few important things that you should keep in mind: 

1. Build a strong foundation 

There is never a dull moment in yoga practice. Every day is a new beginning and a chance to learn something new. While it is always good to be open to learning, you should also exercise restraint until you get into the flow of it. 

Yoga can be physically challenging and this can be especially daunting if you come into it with no history of exercise or physical activity. Be sure to ease slowly into it and thoroughly learn the foundational asanas. 

2. Have a connection with the master to receive knowledge  

The divine art of Yoga was passed on to us through generations of spiritual masters who belonged to schools of yoga and gleaned this knowledge from their ascended Masters through austerities and after performing many Sadhanas. Therefore, you need to build a connection with your yoga guru or master to become eligible to receive this knowledge. It is your guru who will guide you in your journey and practice. Guru means one who removes darkness or one who shines the light of knowledge into your life. 

3. Go step by step 

Goals are very important and yoga is the best practice that will inculcate this belief within you. Whenever you are attempting any asana, and struggle with it, yoga instills the will in you to persevere. Therefore, achieving that asana becomes the goal for you, and this pushes you to keep at it until you accomplish the pose. 

4. Commitment and discipline 

As with any new adventure, yoga too requires you to be committed and persistent. Consistency is key, and only through regular practice will you be able to experience its benefits. Even just showing up on your yoga mat for your daily practice can be your first step towards mastery. 

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