In Yoga, many students consult their teacher, Guru, or Swami for general advice. These consultations are not always related to Yoga. For the student, the problem is finding reliable advice. He or she listens to the teacher for knowledge and helpful advice. Where can you find concrete advice?
Advice, in and of itself, is a form of connecting personal opinions, personal belief systems, and personal values into a recommendation. Therefore, if you obtain the advice of another, it is his or her personal opinion.
In some ways, each of us would like to resign decision- making to some one else. We want someone, who has all the answers to the riddles of the universe, but we want to have control over our lives. This creates an internal conflict, as most of us want to establish our independence.
Why do we seek the advice of a Yoga teacher, Guru, or Swami? A Guru is a person who is regarded as having great wisdom or knowledge, and uses it to guide others. A Swami is one who knows and is master of herself/himself. In general, these are usually, but not always, Hindu titles of deep respect.
If we think in terms of personal growth, and empowerment, how does one become the knower of herself/himself? To become the master of oneself requires daily regimentation. What you eat, what you read, your daily physical exercise, the time you spend meditating, and much more, are strictly controlled by you. This type of lifestyle requires absolute self-discipline.
Yet, let’s be honest – how many people will ever be able to control themselves at all times? The answer is: Very few. All is not lost if we change, what we can, gradually. To sustain a lifestyle change, requires some planning and to learn to forgive oneself for making mistakes.
Therefore, if you plan to make a big change, start with a few smaller changes, which lead to your eventual goal. For many students of Yoga, they do not see a big change unless they look back in time. The reason is: They started practicing Yoga, adopted healthy habits, and eventually realized the rewards of small steps forward.
To suddenly change everything, all at once, is a shock to your entire being. This is like eating meat and refined “junk food” all your life; then suddenly eating raw vegetables, whole grains, and fresh fruit. The usual result of sudden changes is that we change back to what we were before. To make permanent changes, we must take a moderate and gradual approach.