If you are not a native of India, you will not know how to speak Hindi. However, we have all heard the word ‘Namaste’ somewhere. Many people that practice yoga would have heard or even said it sometime during their practice. But does anyone, who is not a native of India, truly know what it means?
As mentioned previously, Namaste has its roots in Hindi. ‘Nama’ means bow, ‘as’ mean I and ‘te’ means you. Therefore, a direct translation is ‘bow I you’ or ‘I bow to you’. It is a respectful greeting used mainly in India and Nepal. It can be used for hello and goodbye.
The greeting is used in combination with a gesture. The gesture signifies the acknowledgment of one soul by another soul. It is believed that each person possesses a divine spark that is situated in the heart chakra. The Namaste gesture involves the placing of your hand together as if in prayer and putting them in front of your chest at the heart chakra. Your eyes should be closed and head bowed. You can also place your hands in front of the third eye, which is in the center of your forehead and bring then down toward the heart chakra as you bow your head.
Hands are placed together to signify the flow of the divine spark and love we all have. You surrender tothe divine in the heart by bowing your head. And closing the eyes also signifies this surrender, but further acknowledges the other soul. Closing your eyes takes away the distraction of the physical being and allows you to focus on the soul. Practitioners of mediation will recognize this gesture as well, this gesture is used in meditation to help go inside the heart chakra. When this greeting and gesture is shared between two people, it is the same as a quick meditation.
The significance in yoga
People that regularly practice yoga will be familiar with the greeting and gesture. The greeting is usually done at the start of a class and again once it has ended. If not at the beginning, then certainly at the end, as it is at the end of the class that you are more relaxed and the mind not as active. Also, the room is more peaceful. These elements allow you to be more open the divine spark.