Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Meaning of Namaste

You often hear it at the end of yoga classes, and I usually sign my blog posts with this word.  But what does it mean, anyway?

Namaste (pronounced Nah-mah-stay) is used as a salutation in India and other countries in the East.   I even heard it spoken in my non yoga travels to Thailand a few years ago.   Namaste is similar, in a way, to “Aloha” in Hawaii.  It has many meanings and uses, including “Hello” and “Goodbye” in verbal communication.  In written communication it is used in a manner similar to how we use “Sincerely.”   In short, it is a considerate way to acknowledge and pay respect to another.

Namaste is a Sanskrit word that has been given many meanings, and I encourage you to find one that works for you and make it your own.  Here are some I’ve heard often.
  • The spirit in me honors the spirit in you.
  • The teacher in me acknowledges the teacher in you.
  • The light in me sees the light in you.
Whenever I say Namaste, however, I am reminded of the derivation of the word, as given to me by my teacher.  If you study the origin of the word and meaning of each syllable, Namaste translates roughly to “Not me, but you.”   This meaning reminds me that every class I teach and every blog I write is not really for me, but for the students in front of me.  It reconnects me to why I teach yoga in the first place:  To create a space of healing and growth for my students.  The other definitions above keep me humble and remind me that each of my students is both my teacher and a source of light in my life.

And if you attend a yoga class and are uncomfortable saying “Namaste?”  Then please feel free to refrain from saying it.   Simply holding a “Thank you” in your heart for your fellow yogis and your practice is perfect!


Tracy Weber

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out my author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series.  MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available for preorder now from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Whole Life Yoga, and other retailers!


Linda O. Johnston said...

Interesting that Namaste has a lot of meanings and all of them are kind and respectful and make the greeting worth saying in so many situations!

Betty Hechtman said...

I have a yoga retreat going on in my second Yarn Retreat series, and my main character gets a Namaste greeting from one of them and is unfamiliar with the word.

Tracy Weber said...

Indeed, Linda. I think it's great that it acknowledges both parties. Betty, you'd be surprised at how many people say the word week after week in yoga class, but have no idea what it means.