Namaste Meaning

Last Updated: February 24, 2024

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There is one very familiar saying you are most likely to come across at the end of each yoga class – Namaste. But what does it mean? Where did it originate? Why is it so commonly used in the meditation and yoga community as a greeting and a goodbye?

Are we using Namaste correctly as intended?

Origins of the Word Namaste

The expression Namaste is a Sanskrit word that holds many meanings and is considered as a respectful salutation.

The word literally means "I bow to you," with nama, meaning "bow," and te, meaning "to you." However, if you ask any yoga teacher, they'll quickly correct you on the meaning of Namaste that differs from the literal translation.

The actual meaning of Namaste is "I bow to the divine in you." How come? The word Namaste is deeply rooted in the Hindu and Indian culture, impacting the final meaning behind this famous expression.

There is a belief with Hindu roots that says that "God resides in everyone." Therefore, any person you're greeting with Namaste deserves a bow to the divine, a respectfully greeting to divine love.

Namaste creates a way of showing respect and honor to another person and the divine within them. When you say Namaste to someone, you recognize the sacredness in them. You acknowledge that they are not just a physical body but a being of light and love.

There are other interpretations of Namaste that you might find more suitable to get a greater understanding, such as:

  • I honor the place in you where the entire universe dwells.

  • My soul recognizes your soul.

  • We are the same.

  • We are one.

  • My spirit bows to your spirit.

  • I honor the place in you that is the same as it is in me.

How to Pronounce Namaste the Right Way

how to pronounce namasteThe word "Namaste" sounds like "Nah Mah Stay" while putting the put the emphasis on the last syllable. Pronounce with a slight bow and with the hands pressed together in front of the heart. Just feel comfortable when saying it, and the essence will be understood.

The gesture of Namaste is often accompanied by a soft smile, a sign of respect and love. When you say Namaste, you recognize the divine within the other person and show them that you appreciate them for who they are, some could even say a sign of worship.

The Namaste gesture is a reminder of the peace and unity that exists in the world.

Namaste Gesture: Anjali Mudra

The Namaste hand gesture, or Anjali mudra, is made by bringing the palms of the hands together in front of the heart and bowing your head slightly. The hands are in a prayer position, with the fingertips touching and the thumbs resting near the heart.

The hands in front of the Heart chakra represent the meeting of the individual's energy and the universal energy that surrounds us all and creates a spiritual connection.

The Namaste means the way of showing respect and honor to another person and the divine within them.

Where and When Should you use Namaste?

where and when namaste is to be usedRecently, there has been a spark in debates around the appropriateness of using Namaste in yoga classes or as a general greeting in the Western world.

In the Southern Asia, particularly in India and Nepal, Namaste is a greeting used to address those with deep respect, authority, older people, teachers, gurus, or other honorable people.

Once Namaste became popular in Western countries, people started using it more and more as a greeting after or before a yoga class. However, it's essential to remember Namaste's origin and history and protect it from being overused.

Treat Namaste with respect as you'd treat the person you're greeting with this divine expression.

Namaste in a Yoga Practice

Namaste is often used in yoga practice to begin and end a yoga class. It reminds us that we are all connected and should treat each other respectfully.

Namaste can also be used as a form of meditation, focusing on the breath and the sacredness of the present moment as it has a deeper meaning.

Often the yoga teacher will say, "Namaste, my friends," to the students at the end of practice and hold a little pause with their hands pressed in Anjali Mudra. This reminds us that we are all connected and should treat each other with kindness and love.

Surya Namaskar, or sun salutation, is a standard series of postures used in many yoga types. It is a practice of honoring the sun, considered the source of all life. Surya means "sun," and Namaskar means "bow", later to be used as bows to the divine spark.

So, when you do the Surya Namaskar, you bow to the sun to honor its life-giving energy. Many asanas included pressing hands together in front of the Heart chakra in the Namaste position.

The Benefits of Living Your Life With Namaste

the benefits of living life with namasteWhen you live your life with the Namaste mindset, you are constantly reminded of the interconnectedness of all things. This reminder fosters a sense of peace and unity within yourself and those around you.

Namaste encourages treating others with respect and compassion and helps you see the divine in everyone.

When you live the Namaste way, you are more likely to experience happiness, gratitude and contentment, and you find it easier to deal with the challenges that come your way.

Quotes About Namaste to Inspire You

The practice of Namaste can bring about a sense of profound peace and unity.

Here are a few quotes about Namaste that will inspire you to live your life with reverence and respect:

"The highest form of respect is when you bow to the divine in someone."Rumi.

"In the practice of Namaste, we acknowledge the light within others and ourselves. We honor the sacredness of all life." – Lisa Englehardt.

"Namaste is not just a word. It is an attitude, an understanding, and a way of life." – Amit Ray.

"When you practice Namaste, you connect with the divine within yourself and others. It is a gesture of love, respect, and unity." – Deepak Chopra.

"Namaste is the light in me recognizing the light in you." – Unknown.

"Namaste is the recognition of the divine light that exists in all things." –Unknown.

"When you say Namaste, you are acknowledging the God within yourself and the other person." –Unknown.

"In every soul, there is a light, and when we see that light in others, it is called Namaste." –Unknown.

"When you say Namaste, you are acknowledging the sacredness of all life." –Unknown.

Daily Namaste practice (where appropriate or privately) can help you experience a sense of profound peace and unity. As you honor the divine in yourself and others, you will find your life becoming more joyful and content.

Namaste is a way of living based on love, respect, and compassion. It reminds us that we are all connected and have the same potential for greatness.

Living with Namaste will make you happier, healthier, and more fulfilled.

Frequently Asked Questions About Namaste

questions about the meaning of namaste

Is it okay to say Namaste?

Yes, it is perfectly okay to say Namaste.

Many people find it a meaningful and beautiful word as long as you respect the roots behind this sacred expression and use it where appropriate.

You might hold off using Namaste in South East Asian countries since it's a salutation reserved for elders, teachers, gurus, and other honorable personas.

Why do yoga instructors say Namaste?

Yoga instructors often say Namaste at the end of a yoga class to thank their students for coming. It is also a gesture of respect and deep appreciation.

A teacher must avoid using Namaste without intention or signaling that the class is over and yogis are okay to leave the room.

Is Namaskar same as Namaste?

Namaskar and Namaste are both Hindu terms that mean respect. Although used interchangeably, there is a slight difference between the two.

While Namaskar is a more formal way of showing respect, Namaste is a more informal expression.

Why do we say Namaste after yoga?

Namaste after yoga is a sign of gratitude and respect. It's a way of acknowledging the teacher and fellow students. The term connects everyone in the class, recognizing the shared experience and the divinity within each person.

Is Namaste Japanese or Indian?

Namaste is an Indian term. Originating from Sanskrit, it's deeply embedded in Indian culture and traditions, particularly in Hindu practices. It's not Japanese, although it's often used in global contexts, including in places influenced by Indian culture.

What can I say instead of Namaste?

Alternatives to Namaste include phrases like "Thank you for the practice," "Peace be with you," or simply "Goodbye." Each can convey respect and gratitude, suitable for ending a yoga session or as a respectful farewell.

How do I reply to Namaste?

The appropriate response to Namaste is to repeat the word back. It's an exchange of respect and acknowledgement of the divine presence in each person. You can also return the gesture by placing your hands together and bowing slightly.

Is it Appropriate to say Namaste?

Yes, it's appropriate to say Namaste in contexts where it's used with understanding and respect. Being mindful of its cultural significance and using it in appropriate settings, like yoga classes or spiritual gatherings, is key.

Is Namaste a positive word?

Absolutely, Namaste is a positive word. It's a respectful greeting that acknowledges the divine in every individual, promoting a message of unity, peace, and mutual respect. Its positive connotations are appreciated in many cultures worldwide.


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The contents of this article are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It is always recommended to consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making any health-related changes or if you have any questions or concerns about your health. Anahana is not liable for any errors, omissions, or consequences that may occur from using the information provided.

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