Making Offerings to Energize Your Practice

During the first couple of weeks of the year, with the New Year just arrived, it is highly auspicious to energize your new goals and priorities by making an offering of flowers or fruit to the altar of Sri Ganesha at the Ashtanga Yoga Room.

In Hindu tradition, the Sri Ganesha (or Ganesh) is a deity who is known primarily as the remover of obstacles. This is why he is the perfect choice for making an expression of the aspects of your life that you want to remove and improve.

Ganesh is one of the most revered gods in the Hindu religion. Ganesh is a patron of the god of wisdom and knowledge and a patron of the arts. He is son of the gods Shiva, the destroyer, and his wife Parvati, the goddess of divine strength and power.

One day, Shiva cut Ganesh’s head off (which represents the cutting through the illusions of our conditioned minds). When Parvati saw her son, she was much displeased. So Shiva took an elephant’s head from Earth and placed it on his son.

The elephant’s head on Ganesh’s body is a reminder to be joyful in life. Ganesh is always depicted with a smile to show the ridiculousness of taking life too seriously. His good-natured spirit is why Ganesh is such a popular Hindu deity worldwide and is often depicted on ceremonial altars like the one at the Ashtanga Yoga Room.

It is not uncommon in Ashtanga to make offerings at an altar such as flowers or fruit.  In fact, it is one of the core principles of yoga. Offering something beautiful to the deity is a way of showing your humility, love, and gratitude for all the bounty that life has given you.

In fact, of the three types of yoga discussed in the Bhagavad Gita, one is called Bhakti Yoga, or the yoga of devotion. The concept of devotion is at the heart of every spiritual practice. Without a certain amount of devotion, we lose sight of why we practice. Making offerings to the deity gives us more humility and more strength.

 This kind of offering begins to deepen and connect you to your yoga practice in a new way. It may seem simple, but it’s potent and powerful. By mentally and spiritually connecting to a certain deity (like Ganesh), we begin to connect to the ideas and principles that the deity represents and begin to apply them to our lives.

When we do this, our thoughts and actions come from a sacred space rather than an ego driven space. Whether it’s New Year’s or any other time, this is truly a blessing.


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