You say, “hello”, I say, “Namaste”.

“Namaste” is a greeting you often hear yogis say to each other. When I started taking yoga classes the teacher began and ended each class with “Namaste”. After which all the students would bow and repeat. After a while I wanted to understand the meaning of the word. What was it that I was saying? Is it religious, or just some hippy dippy thing that people in yoga class say?

The Sanskrit meaning is quite simple. Namah, to “bow” or “salute” and te, “to you”. Simple but powerful, It is not the simple translation of the word that is so meaningful, it is the meaning we bring to the word. A slightly more involved translation “the inner light in me bows to the inner light in you.” Here inner light could mean soul, divine spark, the place in your heart where love, peace and wisdom reside, your higher self!

When you would like to greet someone with Namaste: First, bring your hands to your heart in a prayer like gesture (anjali mudra). Close your eyes and bow your head softly. You may say “Namaste”. In India the gesture alone means Namaste and does not need to be spoken. You may also bring your hands to your forehead first and then to the heart. This gesture has even deeper meaning. By bringing the third eye, the seat of wisdom and the heart, the seat of compassion together, can you think of a better way to great someone.
The word and the gesture have deep meaning, tradition and show respect to another person.

Meanings and interpretation

  • "I honor the Spirit in you, which is also in me." — attributed to but not claimed by author Deepak Chopra.
  • "I honor the place in you in which the entire Universe dwells. I honor the place in you which is of Love, of Integrity, of Wisdom and of Peace. When you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, we are One."
  • "Your spirit and my spirit are ONE." — attributed to Lilias Folan's shared teachings from her journeys to India
  • "That which is of God in me greets that which is of God in you."
  • "The Divinity within me perceives and adores the Divinity within you”. — First spoken by Indira Sankrishzahara to Michael Gratiot upon his arrival in Lhasa, Tibet.

As we see, Namaste holds with it the spirit of your intention. As a yoga teacher, Namaste at the start of a yoga class is much more than just a greeting. Namaste is a gesture of respect and thanks to the students for coming together to practice. At the end of class Namaste is an expression of gratitude for all the students efforts.

Aadil Palkhivala wrote: The teacher initiates Namaste as a symbol of gratitude and respect toward the students and our own teachers and in return invites the students to connect with their lineage, thereby allowing the truth to flow—the truth that we are all one when we live from the heart.
Namaste is an opportunity to salute all, to give thanks that we can practice yoga. A hope that we might bring our intentions together, make a difference to each other, that we might be of service.


1. ^ Namaste”. Wikipedia. Retrieved 2010-9-23.
2. ^ "The Meaning of "Namaste"". Yoga Beginners Expert Q&A. Yoga Journal. Retrieved 2010-9-23. By Aadil Palkhivala

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