On Saturday, October 13th, Jemesii and I participated in the 5th annual NH Yoga for Peace, sponsored by Yoga Caps, Inc., “a non-profit organization that builds community and wellness by making yoga more available and affordable.” I have been a beneficiary of Yoga Caps for the past year, taking (free) classes from founders Jay and Terry Gupta. Yoga for Peace is their annual fund raiser.
The day opened with some humorous Yoga for Yankees with Fred Marple. Jay led us in some gentle yoga and then we were treated to a Gong Bath. Mats spread across the gym, we lay in savasna, eyes shut and senses wide open as multiple gongs sent powerful waves resounding around the room. You could hear but also feel the vibrations which surrounded and then seemingly passed through our bodies: bathed in and then cleansed by sound.
The participants then went their individual ways to a variety of workshops and mini yoga sessions: Jem and I tried flow yoga (which proved challenging for me) and were introduced to the concepts of Pranayama and Ayurveda. We also sampled wares from a number of vendors and made notes to ourselves about which classes we would like to sign up for next year.
The day closed with a powerful ceremony focused on healing. Ranjani Saigal choreographed and narrated a traditional dance in the Bharatanatyam style. The piece illustrated a story in which Lord Shiva conquered death and was beautifully performed by Amudha Pazhanisamy. Ranjani’s narration was accompanied by Gaurish Chandrashekher on mridangam and Kavita on Saraswati veena. A tiny clip of the performance from Jemesii’s iPhone:
It was not an easy act to follow, but it was now time for my part in the closing ceremony. I chose to speak about the challenge of accepting a terminal diagnosis, and the necessity of making peace with your body even as you wage war against the cancer.
At the (tearful!) conclusion of my talk, I am seen hugging Jemesii and then Jay. Moments laters Geetha Murali, a renowned Carnatic vocalist, Ranjani, and a third woman (whose name I did not catch) began 108 repetitions of the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra. Dedicated recitation of the mantra is said to help one conquer the fear of death. The sustained and rhythmic chanting of three voices in tandem provided a powerful and moving climax to the ceremony.
Jemesii, it meant so much to have you there and I am glad we were able to share this special experience. Jay and Terry, thank you for sharing your vision of love, peace and healing. You enrich the lives of many: I am grateful that our paths have crossed, and I hope to walk beside you for some time to come.