Namaste, pronounced ‘na-ma-stay’, is both a Hindi and a Nepali word. It is said in India and Nepal as a salutation, just as we would say “hello” or “goodbye” in the United Sates. The word Namaste is Sanskrit. The pre-Classical form of Sanskrit (known as Vedic Sanskrit) dates back to as early as 1500 BCE.
Namaste is typically said with the hands pressed together and held near the heart, with the head bowed. As we study this Sanskrit word more deeply, we discover that is holds many meanings. Some of these translations include:
- “I honor the place in you which is of love, truth, light, and peace.”
- “I bow to the divine in you.”
- “I honor the sacredness and equality in us all.”
Aadil Palkhivala is a fantastic yoga teacher and an awe inspiring individual. The following definition of Namaste is one Aadil wrote in a Yoga Journal article:
The gesture Namaste represents the belief that there is a Divine spark within each of us that is located in the heart chakra. The gesture is an acknowledgment of the soul in one by the soul in another. “Nama” means bow, “as” means I, and “te” means you. Therefore, Namaste literally means “bow me you” or “I bow to you.”
For a teacher and student, Namaste allows two individuals to come together energetically to a place of connection and timelessness, free from the bonds of ego-connection. If it is done with deep feeling in the heart and with the mind surrendered, a deep union of spirits can blossom.
Ideally, Namaste should be done both at the beginning and at the end of class. Usually, it is done at the end of class because the mind is less active and the energy in the room is more peaceful. The teacher initiates Namaste as a symbol of gratitude and respect toward her students and her own teachers and in return invites the students to connect with their lineage, thereby allowing the truth to flow—the truth that we are all one when we live from the heart.