Why do we say "Namaste?"

Q:

Why do we say "Namaste?"

A:

The light in me honors the light in you. The divine in me reveres the divine in you. These are just a couple of the deeper spiritual meanings of Namaste. We say it at the end and sometimes the beginning, of a yoga class as a way of sealing our practice in a sacred way. Namaste can be seen as a bookend for our yoga practice: One that drops us into a feeling of humility as we let go of our ego and recognize that each and every one of us is made of the same divine matter. (What is the best way to observe my ego?)

Translated from Sanskrit, Namaste comes from namah, which means "salutations," and the pronoun, te, which means "to you." When you say "Namaste," you are literally saying “Salutations to you.” It is a respectful and humble way to great another person. In yoga, when we say "Namaste," we hold our hands together in prayer position at our heart center before bringing them to our third eye. In this way we honor one another with both our heart and mind.

After bowing in Namaste, try to drop into the natural pause that happens afterward. This pause offers us a few silent moments to reflect on the practice we’ve just done or are about to do. The silence after saying Namaste is every bit as important as the words and actions themselves, for we can’t have music without the whispers of silence in between notes. (What are the benefits of silence?)

Saying "Namaste" is one of the many ways to elevate our physical asana practice to a spiritual practice. Yoga is different from other forms of exercise. The rituals inherent in it drop us into a state of mindfulness as we slow down and get deeply embodied. They bring us into a state of grace, allowing for deep wisdom and light to spring forth. What a beautiful practice yoga is and what a lovely way to honor it and ourselves by saying "Namaste!" (What's my sadhana (practice)?)

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Written by Aimee Hughes
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Aimee is a yogi and writer who's been practicing yoga daily for nearly two decades. Since a journey to India when she was 20, the practice has been her constant companion. She loves exploring the vast and seemingly endless worlds of yoga. Aimee has also written a book called, "The Sexy Vegan Kitchen: Culinary Adventures in Love & Sex," available on Amazon. Full Bio