The true meaning of 'Namaste'
Updated: Apr 2, 2019
Chances are, if you’ve been to a yoga class, you’ve already performed Namaste. But, have you ever wondered what Namaste really means? Why our hands come to our hearts? Why we bow? Why we close our eyes?
For me, understanding the true meaning of Namaste was a game-changer. Not only did it deepen my yoga practice, it improved my overall happiness and changed the way I interact with everyone I meet.
Let’s start at the beginning …
To physically perform Namaste, bend your arms upwards at the elbows and place the two palms of your hands together in front of your chest. Close your eyes and say the word Namaste as you bow your head slightly toward the tips of your fingers.
Namaste can also be performed by placing the hands together at the chest, then raising them to your forehead (or third eye) before bowing the head, and then bringing the hands down to the chest again to finish. Yogi’s choice.
But there's a little more to the gesture than just the physical side.
What we are really saying when we utter the word Namaste …
When translated from Sanskrit, an ancient Indian language from 3,500 years ago, the word Namaste is namah (to bow) and te (you); meaning “I bow to you.” In, other words, "greetings, salutations, or respect to you." In India, it is still widely used as a greeting to this day. From young and old, to friends and strangers on the street, people will greet each other with their palms pressed together at the heart, accompanied by a brief nod of the head.
However, within those simple words “I bow to you” there is a deeper meaning that often gets lost in our western world yoga classes.
When practiced properly, Namaste is actually a form of divine connection from person to person. An acknowledgment from the soul in one to the soul in another. A way of recognising that we are not alone. That in this journey of life, we are all connected.
Why we bring the hands to the heart …
Even though the prayer position is one we associate with religious practices, the gesture doesn't hold the same significance in the yogic practices. The reason we bring our hands to our hearts is to mindfully connect with the pure love in our hearts. The love that is always there, in each and everyone of us, despite the up's and down's we may experience from day to day.
Why we close our eyes and bow the head …
Closing our eyes helps us to clear the mind and go within, to a place that is free from the chatter of our ego, to a place where we can find calmness and really connect with our soul. Once we are mindfully connected, we bow the head to honour the pure love in our hearts and allow that love to radiate outward to the people around us.
In this place of calmness and love, we know the truth.
The truth that we are all connected and pure at heart.
And from this truth, comes happiness.
Which is essentially what we all seek in life, right?
Going deeper ...
Next time you practice Namaste, bring your palms together mindfully, feel the heat in your hands for a moment. Then close your eyes, and take a quiet moment to connect with that tingly feeling in your belly. That is your life energy centre. Some believe it is the connection to our soul. As you breathe, imagine that tingly feeling in your belly growing stronger and connecting with your heart. Now bow your head. Feel your own love. Let it radiate out from you. And imagine it connecting with everyone around you as you remember that no matter who we are, what colour our skin is, or what we do, we are at our best when we live from the pure love in our hearts.
Have yourself a divine day. xx