You are going to a yoga class for the first time. And even if you are a lot less flexible than you thought, you manage to pull it off pretty well. Then you sit cross-legged on your mat. Then the yoga teacher says with hands together as a conclusion: Namasté. Your classmates follow suit.
- What is meant by this yoga greeting?
- Where did the gesture come from?
- Is this greeting still really used in India?
In this blog we explore the word Namasté, and after reading this you will probably mutter this word as heartfelt as the others.
Meaning of Namaste
It makes sense that you want to know what is actually being said. There are different interpretations for the meaning of Namasté. A common meaning is 'the light in me greets the light in you'. Another translation of namaste is 'my soul greets your soul'. Some give the meaning of 'I bow to the Divine in you'.
What these statements have in common is that they contain an element of recognition. They both show that you really see the other person, that you think about the deeper layers of the person you greet, that you see more in the other person than just the outside. And at the same time you recognize that you also carry this light within you.
For others, Namasté is a peaceful message that you send out into the universe with the hope of a nice answer back.
The beauty you see in me, is a reflection of you.
– RUMI -
Meaning Namasté in yoga class
Also when using Namasté at the end of your yoga class, the word can have all of the above meanings. Often it is used by yogis as a gesture of gratitude to their yoga teacher, the teachings they have received in the past and as a general conclusion to the class.
Namasté is therefore more than a simple greeting or an announcement of the end of the lesson. With Namasté you can show after class that you were completely in the here and now. That you have experienced your own essence and that of the teacher and that you are grateful for that. You honor the energy the teacher put into the lesson and the energy you gave yourself. You express your gratitude and respect.
The translation of Namaste
What is the literal translation of Namaste? Literally translated, 'namas' means 'bow' in Sanskrit and 'té' means 'to you'.
In a somewhat looser translation, Namasté therefore stands for 'I bow to you'.
Hand gesture respect
You center both hands in front of your chest, with flat hands against each other, fingers pointing upwards and bend slightly forward. At the same time say the greeting Namaste. Feel the meaning of the word.
Placing your flat hands against each other has the meaning from Tantric Buddhism that you are in balance. You depict optimal balance. By doing so you indicate that you respect the other person with everything you are. The hand gesture is also called Anjali Mudra. With this mudra, the left hand symbolizes the moon and the right hand represents the sun.
Want to know more about Anjali Mudra? The hand gesture is described in detail in this English blog.
In compassion and love, I bow my head and transfer my energies to those who love me, and in compassion and understanding I bow my head and reconcile myself with those who have hurt me.
- Thich Nhat Hanh -
The word Namasté originally comes from Sanskrit. This is an ancient Indian language that has been used in philosophical and religious writings for several centuries before our era. Sanskrit is the literary language of Buddhism and Hinduism. The greeting Namasté is therefore used in both Buddhism and Hinduism.
When you travel through India you can be greeted or greet someone in different ways. If you were to meet a good friend, you would put your hands in front of your heart and bend very slightly forward while saying Namasté. When greeting your parents or a teacher, raise your hands and bow more deeply. Even when they go to pray in India, they start the prayer with a greeting. They hold their hands above their heads and bend forward slightly.
Different greeting in India
When visitors come to someone's home, the mother welcomes the visitors in a special way. She sprinkles some water on the floor in front of the guests' feet. With that she means 'come in, it's good to be here'. With red powder she puts a dot on everyone's forehead. By this she means 'you are a good person, you are welcome in our house'. Greetings almost become an art form.
We now know that Namasté is a sign of respect. In terms of symbolism, there is no sign that represents Namasté. Yet online you will often see the Ohm sign as an expression of Namasté. Basically these are two different concepts, the overlap is in the fact that they are both used in Buddhism and Hinduism, and as Namasté is often said at the end of a yoga class, Ohm is often used at the beginning and at the end of a yoga class. yoga practice sung or chanted.
Also say Namaste or remain silent?
You can see Namasté as a way of life based on compassion, care and respect. The thought “I respect and value you” is the starting point. You are actually always friendly to someone. Of course you don't have to accept everything and you can also disagree with someone or discuss. It is not about convincing the other person that you are right, but about understanding and respecting each other better.
So whether you say or sign Namasté, or whether you just follow it as a way of life - or not - it doesn't matter, the world becomes a little more beautiful with Namasté.
If you want to read more about a more conscious lifestyle, dive into the world of mindfulness with this blog.