I think there is this saying that good things come in threes. Three does seem to be a particularly important number – the Holy Trinity in Christianity, the saying that third time’s the charm, and here there is also a sacred trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva – the gods of creation, sustaining and destruction. Today, three awesome things happened:
First, my amazing sister, Jenn, arrived. I felt someone tap me on my shoulder during breakfast and turned around to see a happy, smiling Jenn. Her trip from Delhi airport to Rishikesh was seamless and she had a very chatty taxi driver who wanted to teach her Hindi overnight… literally. A part of this trip is to hang out with my sister more since we have not gone a trip together just us before and as my maid of honor, the two of us make up the female portion of the wedding party and this yoga trip is basically my bachelorette party. I thought that strippers and getting wasted was a bit overrated so here we are in India learning to will our bodies into different positions (sometimes rather crazy positions as we were workshoping the reverse triangle pose today and it is a very unnatural position! Haha) in order to better understand our minds and ask deeper questions about the nature of happiness, love and reality. Good questions for going into marriage I think!
Secondly, I found out that there is a lady who teaches classical Indian dance. She comes to the yoga school and uses one of the yoga halls on the roof. Kathak is a style of traditional dance from northern India that dances out a story. It is really expressive in the whole body performing the narrative through facial expressions and hand gestures. It reminded me a bit of the traditional Chinese dance my mom used to do in how it was very performative in telling a story through movements in the body. I learned to dance to a poetic song about Shiva today, which is extremely tricky because in addition to starting to learn a completely new style of dance, it’s in Sanskrit! Sanskrit is an older form of Hindi and as someone explained to me, Sanskrit is to Hindi like Latin is to English. The poem is translated below:
Shiva Panchashra Stutra
Nagamandraharaya (He has a snake necklace) Trilochnaya (He has a third eye) Bhasmangragaya (He has ash on his body) Maheshvraya (Shiva)
Nityay (Always) Shudaya (Pure) Digambaraya (Naked)
Tasmaya (To that ) ‘na’ (Hindi alphabet) Karaya (I am doing) Namah Shivaya (salute to Shiva)
*I am going to try to add a video of my teacher performing this soon*
Thirdly, we did our evening meditation by the Ganges River in town tonight. The marble covered ground beside the swiftly flowing river was still warm from the sun. All around us, the lights twinkled and there was periodic chanting rising into the night from different ashrams in the area. We all sat facing north towards the Himalaya Mountains and sat still for half an hour, meditating. It was a pretty amazing experience. I am ok with meditating for the first 15-20 minutes, then I get sore and/or the mosquitoes have found me but I think my meditation practice will only get better from here.