Namaste. What are you talking about?

why do we say namaste in yoga

Ah, the first blog post! I thought it an appropriate place to start with the end, if you can see where I’m going here! By that, I mean with the phrase us yogis all know as goodbye at the end of the class. “Namaste” is synonymous with closing our yoga practice, but have you ever wondered what on earth it actually means?

I bow to you

Well, as you’ve probably realised, it’s a Sanskrit word which yoga teachers use to close the class. It’s a gesture of mutual gratitude and respect between all of those present in the class. We bring the palms of the hands together, and you’ll often see the teacher bow their head towards their students, and lead vocally with a ‘Namaste’. The class will usually respond with the same.

Literally translated, Nama means “bow”, as means “I” and te means “you”. So, “bow I you” or “I bow to you”. It’s an acknowledgement of the soul in one person honouring the soul in another. Essentially it means, “the light in me honours the light in you”, or to look at it from another angle, “we learn from each other, whether teacher or student, we are all the same”.

It’s generally accepted practice to close your eyes and join your palms too, to repeat “Namaste” and to bow your head. If you feel so inclined you could bring the hands to the third eye, the crown chakra, located between the eyes as a sign of deep respect…or not. Yogis choice, as always.

So, next time you’re in class, don’t be afraid to reciprocate when the teacher brings their hands into prayer pose, places their palms together at the heart centre and utters the word “Namaste” to the class. It’s a beautiful way to close our practice, to honour the time we have spent sharing our practice together and to honour and show respect for one another.