Namasté is a word you’ll hear often at yoga studios.
You may have heard that it is a traditional greeting, used across India and throughout Hindu cultures as a way of saying ‘Welcome’, ‘Hello’ and ‘Goodbye’. And whilst this is true, we must also recognise that this sanskrit word is imbued with much deeper meaning.
Normally accompanied by anjali mudra, the placement of the hands together at the heart, and said with a dip or bow of the head, this spoken word was created not just as a salutation, but as a way of communicating a set of traditional values in an ancient and deeply spiritual culture.
The word namasté, can be translated simply as I bow to you. Namah meaning ‘to bow’, and te meaning ‘you’. The seed at the centre of this gesture is a heartfelt acknowledgement of another being. It is a gesture of heart-seeing, of positively recognising the person or people you are saying it to, with humility, respect and vulnerability. At the same time, it is the recognition of oneself, with equal dignity and respect, and thus implies a sense of connection or oneness- that we are of the same.
A common translation is the divine in me, bows to the divine in you. The word divine here, is used to convey a sense of understanding something much larger than the individual. You can call it spirit, soul or the light that exists in each and all of us.
At the end of class, on the most basic level, when we say namasté, we express gratitude for the practice of yoga and for the people present.
Remember, you are never expected to say it, but if you do, find a meaning of this word that feels right to you, that resonates, so that when you do say it, you feel that some of these original values permeate and are woven into your practice.