All About Ganesha

Lest we forget…because elephants never do.

For those of you who join us regularly in either our physical asana or meditation classes, you may have noticed our sacred elephant deity etched on our west wall. Here at Sanctuary Yoga and Mindfulness we acknowledge Ganesha, or Ganapati, with the practice of taking a sacred pause from time to time during our busy schedules (or in “the middle” of our day.) As we approach Memorial Day Weekend, what some refer to as the threshold of the summer season, we thought it might be a good opportunity to discuss the lord of the threshold, Ganesha.

Ganesha is the son of Shiva and Parvati, and the brother of Skanda. He is generally portrayed in Indian art as having the head of an elephant. The origin of his elephant head is described differently depending on the story and region of India it derives from. In some stories, Ganesha is born with his elephant head. More commonly, the story is told that Ganesha was created by Parvati out of clay to protect her in Shiva’s absence. Upon Shiva’s return, Ganesha stepped into his path to defend his mother and was beheaded. Heart broken, Parvati implored Shiva to fix what he had done. Shiva resolved to replace the baby’s head with that of the first animal he came across, which happened to be an elephant.

Ganesha is widely believed to be the creator and destroyer of obstacles. He is the lord of the threshold and of new beginnings. But here’s the thing, he, like all the yogic gods & goddesses, really represents energies both inside and outside of ourselves! So you can think of him as an aspect of yourself that you want to call upon or develop.

He also holds domain over the middle, or rather the space between the beginning and the end. Ganesha is a “deva” (god or archetype) of both intellect and wisdom. Ganesha is widely worshipped and meditated upon in India and parts of Asia. It is believed in spaces in which Ganesha is invoked, he grants success, prosperity, and protection against adversity. His energy is also said to be grounding and mitigate anxiety and depression.

Ganesha is said to grant wisdom and good fortune to all those who invoke him and all spaces that espouse him. In our ongoing effort to be in each moment (or “the middle”) and to appreciate each obstacle as an opportunity to learn and grow, we hold him close in our practice space. As we move forward into these warmer months, all of us at Sanctuary wish all of you peace of mind, good health, and prosperity, Ganesha permitting.

Written by Matt Lynch



Sanctuary Yoga & Mindfulness is a healing haven in the heart of Center City Philadelphia. Our premier yoga studio offers weekly yoga & mindfulness meditation classes, as well as workshops and teacher trainings of the highest caliber. “Sanctuary Signature” yoga classes all place an emphasis on: excellence in alignment; thoughtful sequencing; inspiring & uplifting verbiage to support your body, mind and heart, allowing you to feel enhanced on every level. Each yoga class and yoga practice offered also contains 3-5 minutes of mindfulness meditation at its conclusion to further punctuate your profound experience during your time with us.

Our expert and exceptional teachers are highly trained, warm, and knowledgeable in areas of therapeutics, bio-mechanics, philosophy, meditation and so much more! All our classes are highly curated with an excellence in sequencing and intelligent alignment for the body; artful language for the mind; and inspiration for the heart. Come experience our amazing teaching tribe for yourself!