Sixty minutes of a powerful mind-body connection and the yoga room falls silent. Sitting hands to heart you breathe in and exhale together. NAMASTE your teacher says and you bow, echoing the sentiment. But what does it mean? What does it all mean?
I remember being 19, just before my days of practicing yoga, and working on a beautiful herb farm in western NY (I actually wrote a blog about it here). Down the road from the farm, in a VERY small town called Wallace, there was a magical little metaphysical book store. One day, after a week-long class a few of us students all meandered down to the store to choose some fancy items to call our own. I was drawn towards the bumper stickers, collected oh so neatly in a basket on the floor, because I was excited to decorate my newly gifted guitar case (this was the year I bought my first guitar). I came across one that had the word NAMASTE printed on it. “What is this word?” I thought to myself and as I turned to ask the owner she said, “It means my light recognizes your light.” WHAT?!? I loved it! I FELL in love with it. What a beautiful, gracious and empowering word. I bought it of course and stuck that sticker right on the front of my guitar case as soon as I returned to the farm. Little did I know that that wonderful word would become such a big part of my life.
We hear our teachers say, “My light bows to your light,” or perhaps, “The goodness in me sees the goodness in you.” There are so many ways to interpret the word Namaste but just for a moment let’s break it down to the basics.
'namah' means bow
'as' means I
'te' means you
So, the literal translation means “I bow to you.” It is recognized as a greeting, not just to close out a yoga practice, and is often delivered with hands at the heart like prayer position. How wonderful to be greeted by someone in such a humble manner. Yoga teacher Aadil Palkhivala says, “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.”
When we speak Namaste at the end of a yoga class we are recognizing a connection, not only with our teachers but with everyone in the room. We close our eyes and bow taking a moment to rest in that space of gratitude for the class, the yoga community and for ourselves. It is a expression that does not have to be connected to a religion or a spiritual path. It does not have to be accompanied by a fancy or eloquent description. It can simply be a word that you offer up to yourself and those around you that says, “I truly see you.”
Namaste dear yogis, Namaste.
“Look just beyond the confines of the human mind and there you’ll see the real me.”