Namaste, but why? -

Namaste, but why?

May 18th, 2011 by Mandy Lawson

namaste photoYoga can be extremely intimidating. It’s a whole world of body contortions, chanting, strange language and eclectic music, not to mention the seemingly “perfect” bodies scantily clad performing every pose just so. To a beginner, heck, even to a seasoned yoga pro, entering a new class or studio can be a will testing experience. Part of my goal with this blog is to make people more comfortable with yoga by teaching the meanings behind some things which may seem obscure at first glance, and by demonstrating that yoga is a personal practice. It is not a competitive sport, nor should you be comparing yourself with others. Let’s face it though, we are human, and this is not always easy to remember, so while we work on cultivating our non-competitiveness I will share some information to help you feel more confident in your yoga knowledge.

You may have noticed your instructor, yoga students or random yogis in the street saying the word “Namaste”. What in the world does this mean?! Many of my students have told me that they either just took for granted that it is some strange yoga term and never wondered again about the meaning behind it, or they have always wondered about its meaning but were too afraid to ask.

In my yoga teacher training at Anamaya , I learned about the meaning of Namaste for the first time. It was described to me by my teacher Sasha Dae, that it is a gesture combined with the word “Namaste” as an acknowledgement to another person.

“The light in me recognizes the light in you”.
I liked this idea that there is something universal inside of each and every one of us that can be the “recognizer”, this presence inside of us that can see that presence inside of another person.
My favorite description of “Namaste” that I have found so far comes from an article that I discovered in Yoga Journal.

“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.”

I always make sure that I tell my students about this so that they too can feel a little more comfortable when they say Namaste at the end of a class by knowing what they were saying and doing when they make the gesture. It’s a beautiful acknowledgement which I enjoy richly now that I know what it means, and now you know too!

By Mandy Lawson

Mandy is a yoga teacher from Canada, who lives in Costa Rica and is a graduate of Anamaya's yoga teacher training program. She currently works as Anamaya's booking coordinator for our YTTs.