21 Jan Why do we really say namaste?
Written by Laura Porter
When you hear the word ‘namaste’ you likely think about that mellow moment right at the end of a yoga class…when the teacher wraps up and invites the room to join the ritual of bowing and softly saying “namaste”. Here we’re diving a bit deeper into the true meaning of namaste…
You’ve likely never given too much thought to the meaning, until now. Most yogis think of namaste as a ‘thanks’ to the teacher and fellow students, an expression of gratitude for time well spent. Or maybe to you even that’s too deep and namaste is the signal that you’re now free to roll up your mat – we’ll soon change that!
Nailing your namaste
Before we dive into the meaning of namaste, and how you can use it off the mat, lets re-cap on how to nail our namaste:
- Bring your palms together at the front of your chest, fingers (we call this prayer position or ‘Anjali Mudra’ in Sanskrit)
- Join your thumbs at your heart centre with all fingers lightly touching and pointing upwards
- Close your eyes and bow gently as you say with the teacher (or repeat after the teacher) “namaste” (pronounced “nah-mah-stay”)
What does namaste really mean?
Of course namaste is a Western yoga tradition or ritual that closes a class. But it’s so much more too. Namaste is a Sanskrit word that doesn’t have an exact equivalent in English. Namaste literally translates to ‘I bow to you’ (‘nama’ meaning ‘to bow’, ‘as’ meaning ‘I’, and ‘te’ meaning ‘you’). That’s why the saying ‘the divine light in me bows to the divine light in you’ may ring a bell. Or as Power Living teacher Meg Wilson, likes to say as part of her class close, “the light in me sees and honours the exact same light in you”.
Essentially it means my soul recognises your soul or, put another way, it’s a way of acknowledging that we’re all the same on the inside, however different we are on the outside. Have this in mind next time you namaste –and make the gesture more purposeful. Really be in the moment, giving thanks to those around you. Rather than thinking how you can manoeuvre to pack up your mat and be first in the shower queue!
Namaste beyond your yoga mat
In Indian culture namaste isn’t even about yoga. It’s a traditional greeting or custom that’s spiritually important. In India when friends or family members meet, when children greet their elders and even when strangers pass on the street you’ll see them use namaste as a sign of respect. They may say the word super softly but it’s clear that’s there’s a strong intention behind the greeting. They’re basically saying ‘that which is sacred in me recognises that which is sacred in you’.
Namaste – all day, every day?
We want you to be inspired by namaste beyond your mat. Now we’re not asking you to swap namaste for your usual hand shake, gentle embrace or kiss on the cheek! But taking inspiration from Indian culture, when you greet someone be truly present in the moment and acknowledge all that’s equal between you and the other person.
Namaste with Yogaholics
Keen to grow spirituality and physically? Then join us for some yoga at Yogaholics, our online Power Living platform.