‘Namaste ’is sometimes uttered before commencing a Yoga class or more commonly spoken at the end. It has been used as a greeting by many religions, meditation and yoga classes for an age. Perhaps Namaste invokes a feeling within you of gratitude and respect, perhaps not. Whatever you feel, the intention and meaning of Namaste go far beyond the direct translation of the word itself which we as Yogis should not be ignorant to.
It was in India where the gravitas and meaning of the word Namaste, also known as Namaskar captivated my heart. Here, I discovered that Namaste conveys far more connotations than a formal greeting used to meet or vacate another’s presence.
Like most Sanskirt words, Namaste bears multiple meanings. Namah means ‘bow’, ‘reverential salutation’ or ‘adoration’ and te means ‘to you’. Therefore, Namaste literally means ‘bowing to you’. Let’s break this down, starting with you and the reference of the word. You, your soul, also known as ātmā, induces a deeper spiritual sense hence, Namaste could be interpreted when the soul in one person acknowledges and pay obeisance to the soul in another.
We all know actions speak louder than words, and in the case of Namaste they really do. It is by joining our hands together in Namaskar mudra, prayer pose that a higher level of awareness is expressed. The joining of the two palms epitomizes the left and right hemispheres of the brain representing unification. What’s more, joining the fingers symbolize the 5 elements (fire, wind, space, water and earth), the building blocks from which all is created. The placement of our hands is equally meaningful too. We can rest our thumbs on our sternum over our Anahata, heart chakra, the center of unconditional love and compassion. Or above the eyebrow center, Ajna, third eye chakra which deals with energy for spiritual reflection and insight. Furthermore, gracefully closing our eyes and bowing our heads helps us to honor the gesture with surrender, which we can either offer to another or to ourselves during Yoga practice and meditation.
On the surface, Namaste is a simple gesture, but when performed with intent and devotion, it embraces the highest manifestation of selfless honor, peace and love. Recognizing the one universal truth, that the life-force or Devine is within us all. How beautiful is that!
Although there are many meanings, they essentially convey the same message. And so in the spirit of embracing the meaning of Namaste, discover what it means to you, and then advocate it with devotion and serenity.
Namaste Yogis! AKA ‘the Divine light in me acknowledges the Devine light in you.’