Friday, March 30, 2012


As in Hawaii, where the word "Aloha" is a greeting for meeting or parting, so "Namaste" (nah-mahs tay) is the Sanskrit version.

I was drawn to this image as I am extremely fond of lotus imagery!

Now in Yoga class, you may be hit with a bunch of gobbledy-gook about how the word "namaste" expresses a very long and complicated thought such as "the light in me salutes the light in you", or "the spirit within me honors the spirit within you". Something along those lines. I searched online and even found many sites which claim that "Namaste" means:

"I honor the place in you in which the entire universe dwells, and I honor that place also within me, and when you are in that place and I am in that place, we are one."

Wow. That's quite an involved sentiment. Amazing how the vedic masters can express so much thought with one tiny word.

In reality, "Namaste" translates literally as "I bow to you."

That's it! 

The word is accompanied a specific gesture; hands together in the universal prayer gesture, meeting at the heart center (or heart chakra), head bowed in respect and sometimes eyes closed. And just as a wave of the hand can indicate "hello" or "goodbye", so the hand-to-the-heart prayer and a gentle nod imply the word "namaste" even when that word is unspoken.

As a sign of even greater respect, the hands can meet at the "third eye" area; the brow or mid-forehead. The "first eye" is said to refer to vision and other senses, the second eye represents reason and reflection, and the third eye represents enlightenment. The third eye is also referred to as the "mystic eye". 

So we begin a group yoga session with this salute, and also end with it. When you repeat "namaste" back to the instructor, you are expressing respect, admiration and thanks for your session which hopefully brought you a bit closer to the desired state of blissful enlightenment.

Of course that's a tall order for those of us who have not fully developed a sense of mystical, universal consciousness. But it definitely gives us a goal to strive toward!

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