If you were undertaking yoga for spiritual reasons then traditionally, they would have said “yes, definitely”, but these days, and for many of us, it is not entirely the case. It largely depends upon where it is that you place your sense of authority on such matters. If you place it out into the world and onto other people, then you will naturally seek a guru “out there”. However, if you were to place your sense of authority upon yourself or your inner space, then “in here” is where you will naturally receive your guidance.
Having said that, it is still important, especially during the initial steps of practicing yoga, to seek out an experienced teacher or yoga school that feels right for you. If after some time you want go deeper with it, you will need to commit more seriously to that path. If a guru or real teacher is for you, then one will appear when the time is right. You can’t “force” spirituality to happen, it unfolds in its own natural way. Forcing it may actually take you in the opposite direction.
You really don’t need to go to India or chase after some famous guru just to advance on the path. There are many elevated beings in the most unlikely places, both in the yoga world and outside of it that will appear to guide you when you need it. Many of these spiritual beings and guides do not look anything like a ‘spiritual’ person and can often appear as normal, everyday people you may randomly come across in your daily life.
Simply be open and trust that the Universe is looking after you so you don’t need to chase anything or anyone down in order to find your fulfillment. Because of the tendency in the West to be over enthusiastic towards finding a guru in the East, many charlatans and con men exist, both in India and in the West, ready and waiting for naïve students to bow down and follow them idly. Many young and attractive females have fallen for these false masters due to their colorful words and decorative appearances. Be careful and don’t follow blindly any teacher who claims enlightenment. Often just the very claim of being enlightened is a sign that they are truly not. Other sure signs of falsity is claiming that a sexual experience with the guru will bring you enlightenment and happiness, do not fall for this spell. Sexual pleasures are a trap of the senses and for those who are truly realized beings; sexual encounters are of little interest to them. Sexual desire and pleasure is the most common reason for fallen gurus and teachers.
If you do your yoga with sincerity and continue to work on purifying the mind, then the path will become more and more obvious to you. There is really no need to go anywhere or to try and “work it out” by thinking about it. Just keep up your practice with sincerity and integrity and things will unfold of their own accord.
When you come across teachers who claim to be realized, be sure to question them and check what they say with your own inner experience and understanding. Blind faith will only serve to hinder your path.
There are many books, scriptures and teachings that have been brought our world by many realized beings of the past. When we look into these teachings we will see that all realized beings talk of the exact same thing, they just use different words to describe it. We also find that most of them don’t actually practice much yoga asana or postures. It seems that when such beings become highly evolved, the desire to practice asana is diminished, as is the attraction or entanglement to the physical world.
Be careful of anyone who claims to have discovered or created some new mystical or “secret code” that will unlock everlasting happiness. These styles of teachings are just marketing ploys designed to play on your innocence and make these charlatans a lot of money. In fact, there is no “secret code” to happiness or self-realization, so be sure to steer clear of anyone who claims such things.
Here is a list of verified teachers that I have, along my journey, confirmed are true. There is often little need to go off and find other teachers or teachings. Therefore it is best to just simply stick to the ones you know are genuinely verified.
Verified Spiritual Teachers: