If you've visited the studio within the last few weeks, you've undoubtedly seen the gorgeous mural now gracing the outside wall. (And if you haven't visited the studio recently, this is a perfect time to remedy that! Click here to see the schedule in MindBody and sign up for classes!) There's no question that the design is eye-catching, but you might be wondering exactly what it depicts and why Elizabeth and Parker, our lovely founders, chose it for the studio.
The grand blue-and-white face portrayed in the mural belongs to Ganesha, one of the most well-known deities of the Hindu pantheon. Known as the remover of obstacles, the patron of arts and sciences, and the deity of intellect and wisdom, Ganesha is revered by many. He might look familiar to you—representations of him are very popular in Indian art. (They're also exceedingly popular in Indian souvenirs—when I was in Rishikesh, India last summer, all the shop windows were crowded with a variety of Ganesha figurines, like this one that now graces my bookshelf.)
Ganesha's most notable feature—and the one on display in our mural—is his distinctive elephant head. There are multiple stories that describe how he came to have such a head, but one of the most popular versions also hints at his relationship with obstacles. It states that Ganesha was made from dirt or clay by the goddess Parvati, who then had her new creation stand guard while she bathed. When her husband Shiva returned home and found a stranger standing between him and his wife, he flew into a rage and sliced off Ganesha's head. Parvati was devastated by the loss, and, to appease her, Shiva restored Ganesha to life but replaced his head with that of an elephant.
However Ganesha acquired his elephant head, it certainly makes him a striking figure, and his imagery is one of the reasons that he was chosen for the mural. "The aesthetic reasons are obvious," Elizabeth said. "He's part elephant, part human. He is noble, awe-inspiring, humbling. His physical image is perfect for a funky, artistic, hustling urban location."
"But more importantly," Elizabeth continued, "spiritually: there are reasons beyond his awesome and funky appearance that Ganesha earns many fans. Perhaps most popularly referred to as 'The Remover of Obstacles,' he is invoked in all types of new beginnings, including new ventures. Like most deities worthy of devotion, he is both stern and supportive. Ganesha will remove obstacles that stand in the way of deserved, righteous success, but he will derail those whose ambition has deviated from righteousness. In this way, Ganesha's presence can inspire us to new goals and endeavors, while always reminding us that righteousness is not only more important than success, but also a prerequisite to it. Parker and I have always (and always will) put integrity and charity and goodness out front in our decisions, and we feel we have been blessed with what we need from the universe in order to run the studio successfully and virtuously. Jai, Ganesh!”
Next time you stop by the studio, take a moment to not only admire the mural, but to think about what Ganesha represents. As mentioned in a past issue of our newsletter (not signed up for the newsletter? click here to opt-in!), the mural was created by artist Billy Colbert. We love it so much, and we hope that you do too!