meaning of namaste in yoga

Most yoga classes come to a close with all participants saying “Namaste”.

Today’s article is about the meanting of Namaste. Those of you who have been to a yoga class or two know that it’s customary for the instructor to close each class by saying “Namaste”, and for the students to repeat the word after the instructor, but have you wondered about the actual meaning of Namaste ?

Yoga class and the meaning of Namaste

When I first started yoga classes I knew that I had heard the word before, but I didn’t really know what it meant. I figured it was something foreign for “goodbye” or “thanks for coming to class”. I was curious enough to actually Google it one day and discovered that the meaning of Namaste is actually much more than this. At its most basic, the meaning of Namaste is simply: “I bow to the divine within you”, but the most beautiful definitions go far beyond this.

My favourite meaning of Namaste

The meaning of Namaste that I am most partial to says:

I honour the place in you where the entire Universe resides. I honour the place in you where lies your Love, your Light, your Beauty and your Truth. I honour the place in you where, if you are in that place in you, and I am in that place in me, Then there is only One of us.

I was never able to find a definitive answer as to where this definition comes from – some cite Mahatma Ghandi and others cite Leo Buscaglia. But I don’t think it matters who first said it; what matters more is that someone did say it. Because when I read these words for the first time, they honestly made me cry. I thought they were the most beautiful words that I had ever read, embodying the most fundamental truth that I had ever had the fortune to realize.

For if we recognize that we are all one, then we, all of us, must come to the understanding that we can no longer harm each other; we can no longer cause each other pain or suffering or anger or fear, for in so doing, we also harm ourselves and we harm All That Is. And in understanding this, we must also understand that if we all form the deliberate, conscious intent to choose joy, happiness and compassion and treat each other accordingly, we have this incredible power to change the world. Our interactions with each other affect the very fabric of time, space and reality as we know it. If we change our thoughts and our behaviours, we change the Universe, for we are the Universe. We are One. This is the meaning of Namaste.

Isn’t it funny how one tiny word can sum up so very, very much? Wouldn’t it be great if we could change the world so easily? Maybe we really can. Maybe it’s the only way we can. And maybe it has to begin with just a single thought, a single tiny word… person by person, family by family, state by state, nation by nation… until all the world believes.


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