What is the meaning of Namaste?

After every Yoga class, I’ve heard people say ‘Namaste’. It’s a word that has found profound recognition in the modern world and is most commonly used in connection with Yoga. In the East, this word is not only used after Yoga, but in everyday life. Many of us do not understand the real significance of this word and what it represents. Let’s explore its true meaning and keep in mind its essence the next time we use it.


What does the word Namaste mean?

Nama means bow, as means I, and te means you. Therefore, Namaste literally means “I bow to you.” The significance or inner meaning of this word is that my soul honors your soul. I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides. I honor the light, love, truth and beauty within you, because it is also within me. In sharing these things we are united, we are the same, we are one. The word is so steeped in Vedanta literature and Hinduism and one single word holds the entire crux of oneness and spiritual teaching. No other language or way of greeting can ever be so beautiful, humble, profound or fascinating.


 When can we use the term Namaste?


I’d gone to a friend’s home to see her and bumped into her father as he was leaving for work. “Namaste beta, how are you?” he asked me with a smile. I went on to telling him about myself and our conversation was cut short as my friend greeted me. This is one of many instances where the term Namaste is used with absolute normality and it thrills my heart to realize that spirituality is not just a part of people’s lives in India, life here is spirituality and spirituality is life. Similarly, in our day to day lives, these words and actions carry immense wisdom designed for our wellbeing and is well engrained into our system. The term is used while greeting someone or leaving their presence. What we use after Yoga class is Namaskaar, which is the action oriented interpretation of the word.


What is Namaskaar?

Namaskaar is just the physical act of Namaste. It is quite simple to do and comes instinctively when we pray or respect someone. We simply need to bring our palms together in front of our chest and gently bow our heads in gratitude. This maybe a wonderfully sentimental act but it essentially holds physical benefits.

Yogis knew that the hands are one of the strongest energizing organs in the body and when we bring them together and press the energy centers against one another, we feel lighter in our energy body. Even the smallest gestures are so well researched in Yoga and many sadhus and mystics would use the pose of Namaskaar to help circulation of Prana in their bodies. In most schools of Yoga, it is recommended to sit in the Namaskaar posture for a few minutes for overall wellbeing of our bodies and minds. Hence, the physical act of the soul is combined with the word Namaste for complete rejuvenation of the senses and the mind through one single action.

It is essential to bear in mind the meaning of this word before using it as anything done with the right intent can do wonders while doing the right things for the wrong reasons has no meaning at all. I hope Yoga and all its forms brings happiness, vitality, meaning and laughter into our lives. Namaste!


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