In the vibrant tapestry of Hindu mythology, there exists a deity whose image is instantly recognizable – Ganesh, the elephant-headed god. Revered as the Remover of Obstacles and the Patron of Yoga, Ganesh holds a special place in the hearts of millions, guiding them through life’s intricate dance with his wisdom and benevolence. During our Self Practice Cycle sessions, our seated practice has been dedicated to Ganesh and the lower energy centres of the body. In this post I would like to share some context around Ganesh and how we incorporate mantra into our seated practices.
The Enchanting Tale of Ganesh:
Ganesh’s origin story is a captivating narrative that embodies resilience, transformation, and parental love. Legend has it that Parvati, the divine consort of Lord Shiva, created Ganesh out of sandalwood paste and brought him to life. Entrusting her newly formed son with the task of guarding her privacy, Parvati instructed him not to allow anyone to enter while she bathed.
As fate would have it, Lord Shiva returned to find a young boy obstructing his path. Unaware of Ganesh’s divine lineage, a fierce battle ensued, resulting in the beheading of the young guardian. Parvati, grief-stricken, implored Shiva to revive their son. In a gesture of profound love, Shiva replaced Ganesh’s head with that of an elephant, giving rise to the unique and endearing form we recognize today.
Ganesh: The Remover of Obstacles:
Ganesh’s elephantine countenance symbolizes wisdom, foresight, and intellect. His large ears signify the importance of listening, while the small mouth encourages thoughtful speech. The broken tusk he holds represents sacrifice and the realization that sometimes we must let go of a part of ourselves for the greater good.
Devotees turn to Ganesh when faced with challenges, seeking his divine intervention to remove obstacles from their path. His benevolent presence is invoked at the beginning of endeavors, be they personal or professional, making him a beloved deity in Hindu households and beyond.
In the realm of yoga, Ganesh is especially revered. As the Patron of Yoga, he is believed to inspire practitioners on their spiritual journey, aiding them in overcoming the obstacles that may arise during meditation and asanas. Yogis often invoke Ganesh’s name before embarking on their practice, seeking his blessings for a harmonious and obstacle-free session.
The Ganesh Mantra: A Sacred Chant for Harmony:
In the context of yoga and meditation, the mantra “Om Sri Ganeshaya Namaha” can be approached as a powerful tool for cultivating specific qualities and energies within the practitioner. The sound “Om” represents the universal essence, and “Sri Ganeshaya Namaha” can be interpreted as an acknowledgment and alignment with certain attributes associated with the symbolism and energy of Lord Ganesha.
In yoga and meditation practices, this mantra is often used to enhance focus, concentration, and the removal of mental or emotional obstacles. Chanting or silently repeating the mantra can create a rhythmic vibration, serving as a point of concentration during meditation. The sound vibrations may resonate with the practitioner’s inner energy centers, promoting a sense of balance and stability.
The symbolism of Lord Ganesha, with his elephant head representing wisdom and intellect, can inspire practitioners to tap into their own innate intelligence and creativity. The mantra can be a tool for self-empowerment and overcoming challenges in a more secular and psychological sense. It becomes a means of fostering resilience, adaptability, and the ability to navigate life’s complexities, much like the qualities associated with Lord Ganesha in a non-religious context. In this way, the mantra becomes a valuable element in the broader practice of yoga and meditation, supporting personal growth and well-being.
Ganesha as divine guardian of Muladhara chakra:
Lord Ganesha is closely associated with the Muladhara Chakra, which is the root chakra located at the base of the spine. The Muladhara Chakra is considered the foundation of the subtle energy system in the body and is associated with stability, security, and the sense of groundedness. Lord Ganesha, with his elephant head and human body, symbolizes wisdom, intelligence, and the ability to overcome obstacles.
Ganesha’s association with the Muladhara Chakra is highlighted by the belief that he resides in this energy center, serving as its divine guardian. Worshiping Lord Ganesha is believed to activate and balance the Muladhara Chakra, promoting a strong sense of security, stability, and a solid foundation for spiritual and personal growth. Yogis invoke Ganesha’s energy through prayers, rituals, and the chanting of mantras to enhance their connection with the Muladhara Chakra. This alignment of Ganesha with the Muladhara Chakra reinforces the significance of balance and rootedness in on all levels of our being and spiritual journey.
It is interesting and important to understand the history, context and philosophy around the practices that we do. But in the end, it is 99% practice! The only way to really understand is to experience the effects of the practices.
Of course there are many different ways to invoke the energy Ganesha in our Yoga practice. During our seated practices of November and December we repeat one mala of Ganesha mantra and then we chant certain sounds that resonate in different parts in the lower body.
During class we only have 30 minutes of seated practice, but students are invited to investigate deeper at home. We finish be observing silence and the spaces that we activated with sound. After the seated pratice we start our Self Practice feeling grounded, calm but energized.
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