Namaste. What it means & why we say it.

Via Shawna Turner
on Aug 14, 2012
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Photo: bethscupham

The other day, one of the girls in class asked me what “namaste” means and why we say it.

I gave her a very Coles Notes version of my understanding behind the word and the gesture:

namaste, I bow to the divine light within you and you bow to the divine light within me.

She seemed satisfied with this, and so did I.

Later in the day while searchin’ the ‘net I came across something by someone, somewhere out there which takes my half-assed explanation a little further.

I love this.

Then, just now, while searching for a pic for this post, I came across this interpretation.

And according to wikipedia…. my source for everything:

namah = bow
te = to you
Namaste ~ I bow to you

Namaste as a gesture is used to greet one another. It’s a gesture of respect that can be used globally between people of all age, race and gender. Totally encompassing the belief that “we are one.” Hands together at heart centre “represents the belief that there is a Divine spark within each of us that is located in the heart chakra” (wiki).

Namaste. What does it mean to you?

Editor: Lynn Hasselberger

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About Shawna Turner

Shawna Turner. Aimless wanderer. Happiest with a book in one hand, glass of wine in the other, dreaming of down dogs, knitting, and really good cheese. Blog: a side of yoga..


21 Responses to “Namaste. What it means & why we say it.”

  1. Mamaste says:

    Just intro'd on FB to: I'm Not Spiritual & Yoga.

  2. Shawna says:

    Nice! Thanks for spreading the love Mamaste!!

  3. guest says:

    I stopped bowing. I'm not a budhhist, it means nothing to me. I say it out of politeness/respect to my teacher. I avoid gestures that remind me of prayer because I just got out of religion and don't want to get dragged into the next cult.

    • Lynne Johnson says:

      I am an atheist yoga teacher!! Yes an atheist yoga teacher!! There is a few of us out there see if you can find one. I do use Namaste at the end of class with a bow and hands in prayer. I have no problem doing this. I do It out of respect to the history of yoga. 99.9% of people practicing yoga will have a spiritual soul like me you need to except that and just enjoy your yoga . I do yoga because of the way it make me feel it is a simple as that and I will be doing yoga till the day I die. If you don't want to say Namaste try 'have a nice day' it fits in to the same sound and time frame so no one will notice and just like Namaste it is a pleasantry to other people.
      I answered your comment as you remind me of myself when I first started on my yoga joinery. Have a nice day.

  4. Jim says:

    I heard it is redundant to say "Namaste" and to fold your hands as in prayer and bow…….it is an "either" "or" situation.

  5. David says:

    namaḥ is an action noun derived from the sanskrit root nam (to bow)
    te is the anaclytic (shortened version from tubyam) dative form of you
    some sandhi occurs which turns the ḥ into an s resulting in namaste
    literally: I (implied) bow to you

  6. Mike says:

    I revere your devine oness with the unmanifest infinite.

  7. Namaste is what I feel in my heart when teaching yoga and wish to carry into all my relationships – a work in progress.
    The teaching I learned: The Divine in me, honors the Divine in you.When I am in that place in me, and you are in that place in you: We are One.

  8. Barbara says:

    what is with the ultra critical yoga garbage. A group of people who join tougher in a practice of any form or style of yoga are doing a group thing where there is community and love.
    The God in me bows to the God in you

  9. […] Namaste. What it means & why we say it. […]

  10. chad says:

    Okay, so why don't we just say "I bow to the light in You" or something, in English? And what does "namaskar" mean? I've heard it used by Indians in the same way that most yoga heads use namaste.

  11. Shankari says:

    Namaskar is in Marathi, the language of the state of Maharastra (where Mumbai and Pune are). Namaste is Hindi/ Sanskrit.

  12. […] Namaste. What it means & why we say it. ( Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestEmailMoreWixLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. […]

  13. […] Namaste. What it means & why we say it. ( Share this:FacebookTwitterLinkedInStumbleUponPinterestEmailMoreTumblrDiggRedditPrintLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. […]

  14. […] same time, we are all the people we mentally condemn too, because who’s really condemning who? Namaste—the divine in me salutes the divine in you. Well, where do you draw the line? You can’t, because that’s […]

  15. moonring says:

    The word "Namaste" gets overused in popular society, and the meaning becomes lost in the mix, unfortunately. So how do I keep it close to my heart? How do I keep it fresh? When I say it, how do I keep meaning it?

    I really liked how you asked, "What does it mean to you?" My best teachers have always asked me that very question. It inspires me to reflect and come into my own answers. I also appreciated your willingness to and interest in keep opening up the question.

  16. aj says:

    It is actually

    Namaha = bow down

    Astu = let it be

    a student becomes a step by some sanskrit rule.

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