The Remover of Obstacles: Honoring Ganesh in Yoga Practice and Daily Life

The Remover of Obstacles: Honoring Ganesh in Yoga Practice and Daily Life


The Symbol of Ganesh

The symbol of Ganesh adorns altars in Hindu households, temples and yoga and meditation studios for a good reason. Ganesh, the elephant headed Hindu deity, holds incredibly powerful symbolic meaning. Having an image or statue of him, serves as a reminder of the important qualities he represents, including most notably being the “remover of obstacles”, as well as wisdom, luck, doorways, the household and writing. He is often honored before beginning a new venture, to remove obstacles and ensure success.

The different elements of Ganesh’s shape make him rich with symbolism, each part of his body representing a different quality. Ganesha has four arms; one using a mudra of protection, one holding a sweet, one holding a stick, and one holds a rope tied as a noose. The sweet symbolizes the rewards to be gained from following a spiritual path, the stick is a tool used for training elephants and represents Ganesha’s role helping ‘train’ people on their spiritual path, the noose symbolizes Ganesha’s ability to kill the ego. Ganesh is also shown with a large potbelly, which symbolizes the beauty of nature and pleasures in life. He is always depicted with an abnormally large head, symbolizing wisdom. As you can see, Ganesh represents so many amazing qualities, it’s no wonder his image is so symbolic and present in so many places.

History

The story of Ganesh is passed down to us in the Ganesh Purana, the Sanskrit text which tells of his adventures. According to this sacred and ancient text, Ganesh is the son of Shiva and Parvati. Before his birth, Shiva went away to battle. During his absence, Ganesh used to guard the entrance to his mother’s cave. When Shiva returned, Ganesh did not recognize him and would not let his father enter. They fought each other and Shiva chopped off his son’s head in a fierce fight. When Parvati came outside, she was furious with Shiva for decapitating their son and ordered him to find a replacement head. Shiva decided an elephant head would be an appropriate replacement, and thus saved his son’s life. This is the story to explain why Ganesh has the head of an elephant with the body of a human.

Ganesh in Yoga

Ganesh is honored in yoga through the Ganesh Pose and Ganesh Mudra. When you feel like you would like to honor Ganesh, or connect with one or more of the qualities he represents, include these in your practice.


Dancing Ganesh Pose: This balance pose and rarely used in regular asana practice, but is a beautiful pose to include in a sequence. It involves having one knee lifted to the height of the hip, with the lower part of the leg lightly outstretched and the hands floating gently in front of the heat’s center.

Ganesh Mudra: This mudra involves having the fingers clasped and pulling in opposite directions at the heart’s center, with the elbows raised to the same height as the hands.

Mantras

Ganesh is present in many mantras. These can be used at any time to connect with a quality that he represents, or in a time of change or when obstacles are present in your life. Some examples of Ganesh Mantras include:


Aum Gam Ganapatye Namah: This is Lord Ganesha's root mantra and is found in the Upanishad, the sacred Hindu text. It’s perfect to chant before beginning a new venture or to connect with the power of Ganesh.


Aum Shri Ganeshaya Namah: This mantra means "Praise to Lord Ganesha". This is the mantra of prayer, love and adoration.

Gemstones

While Ganesh statues can be made out of virtually anything, such as wood, stone, marble or metal, they have additional meaning when made out of gemstones as they combine the symbolic power of Ganesh, with that of the gemstone.
Gemstones that are specifically associated with Ganesh include:

● Quartz, both Clear Quartz and Tangerine Quartz
● Selenite
● Kyanite
● Black Tourmaline

Connecting with Ganesh

The best ways to connect with the qualities and symbolic power of Ganesh is through weaving elements of Ganesh into your daily practice, on and off the mat. On the mat, you can include the Ganesh poses and mantras whenever you practice yoga. You can include images of Ganesh in the space where you practice, such as having a statue or wallhanging nearby. You can also include images of Ganesh throughout your daily life, such as having pendants, jewelry and images on clothing, in order to act as a reminder when you see it.


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Yogini Soul Staff Writer: Stephanie JohnsonStephanie Johnson, CYI, Yogini Soul Staff Writer, is an elementary school teacher, yoga teacher, meditation student and writer. She is looking for ways to explore this beautiful, crazy life that we have been gifted and to live it with meaning. Stephanie fell in love with yoga as a teenager and has since traveled across the globe in search of gaining knowledge and experiences to deepen her understanding of yoga, from her home country of Australia, to India and across Asia, to Chile, in South America, where she now lives with her partner and two sons. Connect with her on Instagram.

Medical Disclaimer: The information provided here in my article on the Yogini Soul website blog and on Yogini Soul social media pages is not intended to be a substitute for the professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by your own Medical Provider. You agree and acknowledge that I am not providing medical advice. All matters regarding your health require supervision by a personal physician or other appropriate health care professional familiar with your current health status. Always consult a qualified personal health care provider before making any dietary or exercise changes. Yoga is not recommended for and is not safe for those with certain medical conditions. Always practice yoga and other exercise programs under the direct supervision and guidance of a qualified yoga instructor, in addition to the direction of your health care provider. The information provided herein is not to be used in any manner as a substitute for the direct guidance of a qualified yoga instructor. As with all situations, there are sometimes unknown individual risks and circumstances that can arise that cannot be foreseen that can influence or reduce results. You understand and agree that any mention of any suggestion or recommendation in this article on the Yogini Soul website blog and Yogini Soul social media pages is to be taken at your own risk, recognizing that there is a rare chance that illness, injury or even death could result, with no liability on my part or that of Yogini Soul, owned by Yogini Lifestyle LLC.

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