Nama...what did they say?

The Meaning of Namaste

Nama...what did they say?

Several years ago I discovered yoga after suffering from your normal run of the mill aging aches and pains. I started going to yoga because I could barely lean back in a chair and my doctor recommended it. I attended classes regularly and at the end of class, the instructor would say Namaste, we would say if back like little robots and go on our merry way. The word Namaste did not have any significance for me and was no different than getting into a pose. After many years of practicing someone asked me, “What does Namaste mean anyway?” I found myself in that moment thinking, I have absolutely no idea. I realized that I never bothered to research what Namaste really meant.

The meaning of namaste

In researching the word Namaste, there are many suggested phrases associated with the word. The best was to understand the meaning is by breaking the word down into three parts, Nama meaning ”bow” as means “I” and te means “you”. When putting this all together, Namaste literally means “I bow to you”. Namaste is usually heard at the end of a yoga class sealing in the practice after savasana. The gesture is a way to acknowledge each person in the practice, showing gratitude and respect for the students and is a way for the students to return the gesture.

The light within me honors the light within you

Once I found out the meaning of Namaste, I went back and told my friend about the meaning of Namaste… she started arguing with me! She said “No, there’s more to it than that. The instructor always says before Namaste something about a light in mean and you, she’s referring to my soul I’m just not down with that”...ugh, why didn’t she bring that up the first time we talked. Luckily, I knew what she was referring to, “the light within me honors and sees the light within you”.... Loved the phrase, no clue what it meant! The gesture Namaste represents the belief that there is a divine spark within each of us that is located in our heart chakra (the heart, upper chest and upper back). The gesture is just an acknowledgment of each other’s soul. Therefore, honoring the light within each other is another way of showing respect and acknowledging each other.

How to Perform Namaste

After savasana, corpse pose, the instructor may guide you to a comfortable easy seat. Collectively placing your hands in the prayer position located at the center of your chest where your heart is. Close your eyes and bow your head. Another variation may be placing your hands together and placing them in the middle of the forehead where your third eye is located  first then taking your hands down to your heart center. You do not have to repeat back to the instructor the word Namaste, the act of bowing with your hands at your heart center is all you need to do although you will hear students repeat this back to the instructor.

The next time you are in class, don’t be afraid to Namaste! The gesture is a form of gratitude and respect between the instructor and the students.In addition, if you ever find yourself in a class and you hear something that seems odd to you, don’t wait to figure out what it means, educate yourself and be open to new concepts and ideas.

Katy Huth, 200 hr E-RYT, RN