Namaste (Nah – mas – tay)…


What does namaste mean? The root of Namaste comes from the two sanskrit words namas meaning bowing, and te to you.  So, the most simplistic and literal translation or meaning of the word Namaste is ‘bowing to you’. 

We usually hear the word Namaste at the beginning or end of our yoga classes, however the use of this word extends beyond yoga studios.  If you found yourself wandering down the streets in India it is quite common to be greeted with the word Namaste.  In this context the word Namaste signifies the real meeting between two people, and by real meeting we mean meeting with the mind.  So in this context Namaste means ‘may our minds meet’.    

 This article is going to focus more on the context of Namaste used in Yoga.    

The Namaste gesture

If you are completely new to the world of yoga, you may be wondering what is this weird word I hear at the beginning and end of my yoga classes?  What should I be doing, should I be saying this word too?   Don’t worry we’re going to discuss the various options and gestures to honour this word.   

Since yoga classes around the world start and end differently there is no exact rule on how to Namaste properly.  However, it is likely that you will hear the word Namaste at least once during your practice, either at the beginning, the end or both.  Depending on the instructor, class style and your personal practice your gesture will vary but one of the most commonly used gestures to honour this word is as follows: 

Hands press together at heart centre, by placing the two palms together placing the thumbs close to the chest.  As you say the word Namaste you can humble the chin slightly towards the chest and close the eyes.

Okay so now we know the basic root meaning of namaste, it’s origin, and a common gesture to honour the word but all of this means nothing if we don’t attach a meaning to it.       

What is the spiritual significance of Namaste? 

Namaste has such a deep spiritual meaning behind the word, it recognizes the belief that the life force or the divinity in me is the same in all.  Put simply Namaste recognizes oneness, the idea that we are all parts of this one interconnected whole, or this one web of life. 

When a yoga teach begins or closes class with Namaste it can be seen as a symbol of gratitude, the individual may be honouring the soul or the divine and connection within each individual.  When students answer back, it is in the same spirit.  Saying Namaste creates a massive exchange of energy and creates a space of interconnectedness.  This energy is also known to create a spiritual  and emotional connection between persons, it also creates a blissful environment, and brings a greater connection to the world.          

Yoga is the true embodiment of this words meaning, it is a way to honour ourselves and the world we live in.  Namaste is a reminder of the true nature of yoga, and it helps us

connect more deeply with ourselves and our interconnected world.

Common translations of Namaste:

‘The divine in me bows down to the divine in you’

‘The light in me see’s the light in you’

‘My soul honours your soul’

‘I honour the light, love, truth, beauty and peace within you’

Namaste can mean something slightly different to each and every person.  Maybe it’s a sense of gratitude, closure, or conduit for something more.  Comment on what Namaste means to you.    

Source: AWAKEN