Yoga with Melissa 122 Ganesh Series: How Ganesh Got His Elephant’s Head

by Melissa West on

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Today´s hatha yoga class is about how Ganesh got his head. Lord Ganesh is a god who has the head of an elephant, courtesy of his father, Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva, decapitated Ganesh, his own son. while he was guarding his mother Parvati. Remorseful Shiva sent a servant to find a replacement head for his son. The servant brought back an elephant head which he then attached to his son’s body.

The story of Ganesh’s decapitation can’t help to be symbolic of the death of the ego-self – to replace a human head with an elephant head surely is a symbolic gesture to turn to the higher self or soul.

Ganesh’s big elephant head is said to encourage us to think big. His large elephant ears and small mouth tell us to listen more and talk less. His small eyes are symbolic of concentration. And his one tusk was removed to write the Mahabharata reminds us to retain the good and throw away the bad.

The elephant is noted for its acute intelligence. Ganesh’s head symbolizes sharpness of intellect and the highest power of discrimination. Ganesh is known for the purity of his intellect.

In this class we will look a little deeper at Ganesh’s story of how he got his head and how it relates to our lives. For most of us the bitterness and resentment of being decapitated by our own father and then having our human head replaced by an elephant head would be a very difficult, if not impossible, issue to let go of. Ganesh had some serious childhood wounding to deal with. But he let that decapitation go, he forgave his father and he got on with it like the God that he is, the Supreme being that he is, and he got on with removing obstacles for other people. He LET IT GO! He used his tusk for the writing of the Mahabharata, one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India. He recognized the sweetness of life. That is what Ganesh did and that is what we can do in our lives too.

In this class we are going to practice letting go with twists and hip openers. Twists are great for letting go and releasing tension from your body. Opening our hips will allow us to open up in order to let go. Through a series of warrior poses we will reenact Ganesh’s story reminding us of the value of letting go in our own lives.

Props Needed:Block or folded blanket

Yoga Postures/Asanas: Reclined Twist or Supta Matsyendrasana , lunge pose or Anjaneyasna , lunge twist, pigeon pose or Rajakapotasana, Downward Facing Dog or Adho Mukha Svanasana , Warrior 1 or Virabhadrasana I, Peaceful Warrior or Shanti Virabhadrasana , Dying Warrior Pose, Seated Twists Marichyasana or , Seated Spinal Twist or Ardha Matsyendrasana, Cow Face Leg Pose or Pada Gomukhasana

“Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh

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Today’s question to answer in the comments is: During this class, did anything come to mind for you that it is time to let go of?

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