You’ve likely heard this word before—but what does Namaste mean?
WHAT NAMASTE MEANS AND HOW TO PRONOUNCE IT
Namaste नमस्ते is a Sanskrit word that translates to “I bow to you.” You’ll most often hear it pronounced “nah-mah-stay,” although the more accurate pronunciation is “nuh-muh-steh.” Rooted in the Sanskrit verb “namaha,” to bend, it signifies bending in submission to authority or respect to a higher power.
Over time, as Sanskrit evolved into numerous modern languages including Hindi, the meaning of namaste changed to that of a warm, yet respectful greeting. It is now the standard way to say hello to one’s friends and family and strangers alike.
With its emphasis on ancient traditions, yoga uses namaste in its original Sanskrit context to express gratitude and respect. As yoga has surged in popularity, particularly throughout the western hemisphere, namaste’s use has proliferated.
WHEN DO I SAY OR USE IT?
When we use Sanskrit words like namaste, it’s important to do so in the proper context to show respect to yoga’s ancient language and traditions.
Renowned yoga instructor Aadil Palkhivala says, namaste “is an acknowledgment of the soul in one by the soul in another.” Whether used in a yoga class or as a greeting, it should be used intentionally to acknowledge our connection to each other and the universe, not as a play on words (looking at you, “namastay in bed” T-shirts!)
When your teacher says namaste, you’ll notice that it is accompanied with a pose. This pose, called Anjali Mudra (UHN-jah-lee MOO-dra), translates to “gesture of honor.” To do it, press your hands together with your fingers pointed up, close your eyes, and bow your head. Using namaste together with the Anjali Mudra acknowledges the spiritual connection our souls share.
HOW DO I USE NAMASTE IN MY YOGA PRACTICE?
Incorporating namaste into your yoga practice is simple. It is usually said at the end, and sometimes the beginning, of a yoga class. When used at the beginning, it is a respectful greeting. At the end of a yoga class, it is used to convey gratitude and respect.
Saying namaste back to your instructor or others connects your energy to theirs and forges a deep connection, achieving one of the foremost purposes of yoga.
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