What Does Namaste Mean?

namasteNamaste. The word echoed in my ears. What the heck does that mean? Then, as fast as I could think the thought, it vanished.

That was my experience in my first yoga class. I started practicing yoga because I wanted to reduce my hip pain, not because I wanted to study Sanskrit. Even though I firmly believe you should know and understand what you’re saying, I said it back to my teacher with as much feeling as I could muster. Namaste.

It was an enthusiastic Namaste devoid of meaning or comprehension, but heartfelt none the less. By the time I rolled up my mat, I couldn’t even remember what we had just said. This pattern continued for a very long time.

Namaste. Oh! I have to Google that. Then, I would immediately forget to Google it.

Finally, one day, another student asked our teacher what it meant.

Namaste

My teacher explained it as “The lightness in me respects the lightness in you.” There are several interpretations of the word, though.

In Sanskrit, Nama means “bow.” Te means “to you.” Therefore, the literal translation of Namaste is “I bow to you.”

In the Hindu religion, it is believed that God is everywhere. Good and bad people both have God inside them. When said in a religious context, Namaste means “I bow to the divine in you.”

Namaste Form

When you say “Namaste,” you should have your palms together in front of your chest. Here, your hands are in front of your heart chakra. Your thumbs should touch your sternum. This hand position is called  Anjali Mudra

As you speak, slightly bow your head to your hands.

According to Wikipedia, “The greeting may also be spoken without the gesture or the gesture performed wordlessly, carrying the same meaning.”

Namaste, friends. Thank you for reading.

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Sarah Stockett is STOTT certified in Matwork, Reformer, Cadillac, Chair, & Barrels, Injuries & Special Populations, and CORE; a Yoga Alliance RYT-200; and has studied Active Isolated Stretching. When she is not trying to discover the best exercises to get rid of pain, she likes watching movies and travelling with her family.

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