The Meaning of Namaste
Namaste is a salutation of respect and reverence. Even though it is commonly used as a way to end a yoga class, it is actually a traditional Indian greeting. It literally translates to “bow to you” (namah or namas, meaning bow, te meaning you).
In India, the gesture of Anjali Mudra (prayer position of the hands) not only accompanies the word, but is synonymous with its meaning. People passing on the street, family members greeting one another, children acknowledging their elders, and strangers meeting for the first time all join their palms together and bow their heads in respect of one another.
There are many translations of the word Namaste. A few that you see commonly here in the USA:
I honor the place in you where the entire universe dwells.
I bow to the place in you that is love, light, and joy.
When you and I bow to our true nature, we are one.
My soul recognizes your soul.
We are the same, we are one.
I honor the place in you that is the same as it is in me.
It is a beautiful expression that encompasses so much more than it is given credit for in the western world and yoga industry. We see it used a lot in the modern world to sell yoga apparel and gear, but hopefully we can take into our hearts and see that when we say it - it means something. It is a sacred word from Indian culture and we should treat it with reverence.
It is a way to tell another human soul, that you see beneath the outer trappings that make us appear different than each other. Using this word to greet one another is a sacred utterance that we see beneath the veil that separates us, into the divine oneness and deep inner connection of the universal consciousness that moves through all of us.
It is a word you will hear in every yoga class you will ever take and we encourage you to pause when you say it and bow not only to one another, but to the sacredness of this practice and it's beautiful roots in Indian culture.