Updated: May 27, 2019
We say this at the end of practice, but what does it mean?
With the hands together in prayer at the heart center, and the thumbs gently touching the sternum, we bow and say namaste at the end of class. Literally it means the vital life force in me bows to the vital life force in you, or that which is infinite in me recognizes that which is infinite in you. The understanding in Hindu is that all is one and that everything is spiritually connected. So namaste is a recognition of this connection.
In class we say namaste as an acknowledgement of gratitude and appreciation from teacher to student and student to teacher. It pays tribute to all that has come before - the teachers of the past leading to this moment, the experience of all present, and the connecting aspect of the practice.
My personal experience with namaste is that I felt uncomfortable saying it when I first began practicing. It felt more like a rote repeat that didn't mean much to me - more of dogma than anything else.
After many years of practice, namaste now holds a deep and profound meaning for me. I feel the heart connection with others present during a practice, feeling our connectedness, our unity of being, and I know we are the same. We are one. Namaste acknowledges that feeling.
Yoga is the yoke uniting the individual with the whole, bringing us back to our pure and original self connected to god and all that is. Yoga removes duality and restores oneness.
Namaste is like saying, yes, we are one and I feel it too.
I salute the light within your eyes where the whole universe dwells. For when you are at that center within you and I am at that place within me, we shall be one.
- Chief Crazy Horse