If you've ever attended a yoga class, you know that mostly every practice ends with the instructor closing out with a Namaste. These days, you'll also see Namaste pop up on workout tanks and internet memes like "Namaste in bed," but the original Sanskrit term holds much deeper meaning...
what does it mean?
Namaste. The sanskrit word is typically said at the end of a yoga class, usually in conjunction with a deep bow, but what exactly does it mean? Does it translate to thank you? Great job for surviving chair pose?
The word Namaste originates from Sanskrit – the ancient language of India and is pronounced as num-us-teh [nəməsteː]. In Sanskrit, namas stands for paying obeisance or bow and te means you. The literal translation is more than straightforward – I bow to you.
In English, Namaste translates to "I bow to you" or "The divine in me honors the divine in you." But it's not meant to have a religious sentiment as it sounds. The meaning of Namaste is a mantra of peace and equality to live by on and off the mat.
Namaste is typically spoken when slightly bowing and making a hand gesture called Añjali Mudrā. The palms are pressed together with thumbs touching the chest and fingers pointing upwards. This gesture symbolizes the opening of the heart and manifests our link to the divinity, a holy spark within each of us. Because of this, we also have more extensive English translations of Namaste such as the light in me honors the light in you, or the divine in me recognizes the divine in you.
So it may come as a shock to some to find out that Namaste in the country of its origin is used in a daily conversation and means… well, just Namaste – a polite way of greeting someone like hello. It can be interchanged with the less known word Namaskar, which also expresses salutation and is used as a greeting.
You can even take the spirit of "namaste" beyond the studio and carry it with you through everyday life. Obviously we aren't going to go into the grocery store and greet people with 'namaste,' but greeting people as your equal and going through life treating everyone equally is a beautiful sentiment to live by. "Namaste" is about more than acknowledging the light in people. "It's about honoring the light, darkness, past, present; someone's whole experience.
When you keep in mind the true meaning of Namaste, you acknowledge that you have this yoga practice in common with other people, so it ultimately helps you open yourself up to others. So go out into the world and live your namaste life!