In the month of July, it is tradition to acknowledge our gurus. The word ‘guru’ is the Sanskrit term for “teacher”. ‘Gu’ means darkness, ignorance, that which obscures beauty and truth. ‘Ru’ means ‘that which removes’. So guru is interpreted as one who removes ignorance or darkness.
In the West, the concept of guru can seem mysterious and difficult to accept. You may be asking, “How do I find my guru?”. A guru is a teacher who imparts insights and revelations to you about Yoga. A guru may also help one to come to know truth. We are each other’s gurus and you can be your own guru! Traditionally (and still present today), yoga is a tradition that is passed on from guru to student. In the West we have established teacher training courses and in just a couple months, one can be certified as a yoga teacher! Tradition however saw a much closer relationship between guru and student whereby the student develops a respect and love for the teacher with the same respect and love they have for the Divine. In this tradition, knowledge is passed on over many many years and it is only after years of dedicated and loyal practice as a student that a guru may bestow the honour of ‘teacher’ to their student.
Yoga teachers must uphold the moral and ethical principles of yoga. Three necessary criteria for a good teacher are:
Lineage: the teacher should have had direct transmission of knowledge from his or her own teachers. The teacher also should have been blessed to teach by his or her teachers. Practice: the teacher must have a regular daily practice.
Love: the teacher must love the students so much that he or she is willing to sacrifice anything to serve them.
I often think of my best teachers as being demanding, yet gentle where the asana (posture) practice becomes a mere structure for the real work, which is transformation.
In my case, I feel blessed to have had extraordinary teachers over the years of my yoga practice and especially blessed for my guru of 9 years, Eileen. You continue to ‘remove the darkness’ even though my body is far away from you. I pay homage and respect to all the extraordinary teachers I am blessed to have had and continue to have and I bow in devotion to them and my teachers’ teachers and their teachers… This is my lineage. To the late Patthabi Jois, Guruji. You are our Ashtanga father and are greatly missed. Namaste.
“The guru said to the disciple:
You have three jobs. Your first job is to find me. Your second is to love me. Your third is to leave me” ~Indian Proverb