As a child I’ve always felt the awkwardness of not fitting in. This continued throughout my childhood and well into adulthood. Yoga was no different. I can say with confidence that 95% of the yoga classes I have taken, I was the only Indian person in the class. The irony is not lost on me, given the fact that yoga came from the east is deeply connected to India. The most logical step for me was to go to India to study yoga. I arrived to Rishikesh, bright eyed, looking forward to immersing myself in a traditional yoga experience, only to be completely turned off by the guru culture and Western whore-shipping of all things Indian. As luck would have it, the one week I came to Rishikesh for a yoga intensive was the same week as “International Yoga Festival” — imagine every corner of the small city overrun by Americans, Europeans, Australians, from every part of the world overzealous with spiritual ambitions, in eager search of their beloved gurus and young men from Dehli treating this week as their annual “Spring Break” of sorts. While taking in this experience, I wouldn’t let any of this stop me from continuing my yoga practice. If anything, this experience made it clear to me if that I wanted to take this whole spirituality thing seriously, I was going to have to stop my eye rolls, dig my heels in and really commit — alone. Since then I’ve always seen yoga as a solo journey. I don’t follow a lineage, and I don’t believe in gurus. I’ve learned by self study and the guidance of teachers. I ask questions, I read books and I continue to expand my understanding but never following blindly. The worshipping of a man, no matter how “enlightened” he maybe, is counterproductive to a path of self liberation. I believe that yoga is an individual journey that forces you to work through the challenges of your own mind, body, karma to gain an understanding of yourself and the world around you.

#beyourownguru