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Hello fellow Yogis, I hope that this day greets you with Joy! Today I wanted to share an experience I had once ending my yoga class with the gesture of Namaste. The literal translation of Namaste from Sanskrit to English is: Bow (Nam) me (as) you (te) – “Bow me you” or more eloquently, “I bow to you.”
I close all of my yoga classes by placing my palms together over my heart, gently closing my eyes, bowing forward and saying Namaste. I find this to be a simple but powerful gesture to seal in our practice and share our positive energy. Not all of my students reciprocate the gesture, but I have noticed that the more a student comes to class, the more open they are to including it at the end of their practice. Though the meaning of this word may be well-known among seasoned yogis and instructors, some, especially those new to yoga might not be aware of what is being said or the intention behind it. One of the first times that this was really brought to my attention was during my first year teaching.
After class one of my students asked me, “What was that you were saying at the end of class?”
“Namaste?” I asked, not sure if that was what she was referring to.
She responded “How do you say it, Nam-us-stay? Is that it? Oh, I thought that you have been telling us to have a nice day. What does that mean? Are you praying?”
I repeated the gesture for her and explained, “Namaste means that the energy or spirit within me, honours and recognizes the energy and spirit within you. It can be used as a prayer or meditation, but it is also a greeting and a way of showing appreciation, which is how I am using it. I do however, also want you to have a nice day!” I know that I am not alone in my “have a nice day” experience since I have talked to other teachers who have had similar exchanges with their students.
This was not the only occasion where a student asked the meaning of Namaste. After this happened a few times I thought that it made sense to share the meaning semi-regularly in the hopes of introducing it to all of my students. I don’t always explain the meaning after every class, but when I am working with a new group, subbing for another instructor or when I want to make that additional connection with my students, I will end class by saying, “Namaste, which means the spirit within me recognizes and honours to the spirit within each of you”. Sometimes I will interchange the word spirit with light, energy, life force or Prana.
If you have an experience related to this topic or any others, please share your thoughts!
Peace, love and of course, Namaste!
Ashley Freeman is a registered yoga teacher with the Yoga Alliance. Certified in Raja Yoga, her experience includes private in-home lessons, workplace wellness programs, and group instruction teaching various class formats and yoga styles. Find her on Google+