Buddha & Ganesha
When you walk into Hot Yoga Ibiza, the first thing you lay eyes on is our big, beautiful wooden Buddha. He quietly presides over our reception like a tranquil, wise protector. He says nothing, but he knows all.
OK… I know he’s really just a piece of wood for decoration, but it’s what the symbol of Buddha represents that I felt was important when I chose him to watch over the studio back in 2009. As soon as I laid eyes on him, in a decoration showroom here in Ibiza, I felt a connection to him. I knew he was ‘the one’. To me, he symbolises exactly what we’re trying to achieve with our practice here at Hot Yoga Ibiza.
By this, I am talking about the quest for enlightenment. The desire for peace. Being present, in the moment. About spirituality – not necessarily about any specific religion. To each our own faith.
Sitting on the floor below Buddha, guarding his own little altar space, is a metal statue of the Hindu deity Ganesha. Considered to be the remover of obstacles – any things you feel resistance towards – I feel he is also symbolic of our practice, on physical, mental and spiritual levels.
You may notice at times in the studio, both Buddha and Ganesha are surrounded by, and topped with offerings – quite often including money. This started as a spontaneous act by one of my students, Dario, who had seen Thai people give symbolic offerings food, water, incense and money to their deity statues while he was travelling. Other students saw the offerings and felt a connection to this concept and began adding their own to the altar.
In Buddhism, offerings typically are given in gratitude and for inspiration. They are meant to contribute to the framework of your personal karma and help release you from suffering – they’re helping to set up your afterlife. In Hinduism, these rituals are performed as part of a prayer, to honour a deity or celebrate an event. Offerings are also often done in preparation for meditation. Here in the studio however, our students give offerings for many different reasons. Some may make an offering with a prayer, or a wish. Some place items in dedication to another being. What connects these motivations is a belief in a higher power – whichever higher power you believe in.
Some students have asked me if I will take the money to India, and donate it to an Ashram, or to a charity or foundation there. But I believe in helping people closer to home. I believe there are so many people in need in Ibiza, which is why, when the offerings start to spill forth from Buddha and Ganesha, I gather them up and donate them to local charities like Caritas. The money comes from the students of Ibiza and I believe it should stay here in Ibiza and make a difference to those who need help in our day-to-day society.
Yoga isn’t about a specific religion. Whatever (or whoever) you believe in, yoga accepts this with no judgement. We speak of devotion, of higher powers, higher consciousness – this is Bhakti Yoga, the yoga of devotion and a path to self realisation. Really, we are all on the same path. We just choose to travel it in different ways, while we practice side by side.