by Himanshu Joshi: Yoga is a subject not just limited to postures, but extends beyond to a spiritual discipline and practice…
It can be considered as a legacy that has been passed down since generations via the holy scriptures – the “Sutras” and is comparable to other sacred texts such as the ‘Quran’ or the ‘Bible’.
Some of the ancient texts that mention and discuss the subject of yoga include the Upanishads (the first of the holy scriptures that talks about yoga), and the Yoga Sutras (written by Sage Patanjali later) which gives the subject a defined system also known as “as the eight limbs of yoga.”
All of these yoga texts happened to be originally scripted in the language Sanskrit. Hence, in a yoga class the words that are heard by you originate directly from these ancient texts of yoga. The 10 most common Sanskrit yoga terms used in class include:
“Namaste” – Did you know that this word that is said when every yoga class ends, carries an indepth meaning than you actually realize!
“Namaste” – what the word really means.
For those who have been attending yoga classes, you would be aware of the fact that every practice will end with your teacher joining the hands together while positioning them in front of the torso or between the two eyes (the third eye) and then saying the word “Namaste.”
This word originally Sanskrit possesses a more deeper significance and meaning. The gesture – “Namaste”
Namaste as a gesture symbolizes the belief that within each individual, there exists a divine ember, situated in the heart chakra. This gesture is a response that one soul present in the individual gives to another.
Definition of Namaste
To understand the definition of this word more clearly, it can be simply broken into three parts:
Nama – to bow
As – I
Te – you
Combining these three parts, the literal meaning of this word can be derived as , “I bow to you”
Or “bow me you.”
How to create the Pose (gesture) of Namaste
Performing Namaste is very simple. At the heart chakra, keep your hands placed together and with eyes closed, bow your head.
Significance of the word “Namaste” :
The word “Namaste” signifies a deep sense of respect. In India, the gesture itself is enough to denote the word without it being spoken, which on the other hand, in the West , it is uttered while simultaneously making the gesture.
Namaste between a teacher and student :
Between a guru and shishya (teacher and student), Namaste draws each one together towards timelessness and a point of connection, freeing them from the clutches of ego. When performed with depth and feeling, and with surrendering of the mind, there blossoms a profound amalgamation of the spirits.
Difference between ‘Namaste’ and ‘Om’ :
While Om is used to express the infinite marvel of the earth , Namaste is used more as a form of greeting or as a gesture of thanks, passed from a yogi to other. Thus, Namaste is more of a salutation, while Om is a highly sacred word that relates to the higher and deeper force in the universe.
Namaste – how to pronounce the word correctly :
If you have not heard of this word being properly pronounced before, then you may have pronounced it yourself as ‘nah-mast-ee’ – a common way of mispronouncing the word for the first-timers. In reality, the correct pronunciation of this word is ‘nah-mah-stay.’
Some interesting facts about Namaste
- In countries like India, Namaste is a popular form of cultural practice. It is used as a way of saying of “good day” or “greetings” as meant in English .
- As opposed to a hand shake or an embrace or a form of kissing which is seen in some other cultures, Namaste is a different form that denotes a more respectful ‘non-contact’ way of greeting which has universal application when one meets people of varying age, status or gender.
- It is unfortunate however that the origin of the word is yet unknown inspite of it being used on account of multiple purposes through the years. As per some, it was believed to be used as a mark of complete submission from an individual towards another and as an acknowledgement of respect towards elders.
- Namaste is popular in Nepal too where you might have spotted this gesture if you ever may have paid a visit to this part of the globe.
- Namaste is used by Buddhists as a mark of respect that they have on behalf of each other.
- Namaste is used by the Hindus as a mark of offering or worship to a deity.
- Instead of this particular word, sometimes the phrase ‘Namo vah’ may also be used, which carries a similar meaning , however used in case of three or more individuals ,when they want to show respect for the divine that is in each other.
- Namaste has its other versions too as used by other cultures such as the Japanese who use ‘Gassho’ when they shake hands.
Western Usage of Namaste
In the west, you may have heard the word ‘namaste’ before as well as after the completion of a yoga session or a meditation. The popularly used term in Asia and India, may however not have been used very often in the west excepting in the context of yoga and meditation.
When Namaste can be incorporated in one’s class
Ideally, a typical yoga class begins with the mentioning of “Namaste” and ends with the same. Most of the times you will find the word being spoken during the wind –up of the class when the mind is not as much active and the room radiates greater peaceful vibes. Namaste is initiated by the teacher as a gesture of respect and gratitude towards her own mentors and her students and in response encourages students to bond with their roots and thus allow the truth out – that truth which believes in oneness of all.