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Namaste Meaning, a Beginner's Guide.

What does Namaste mean, when did Namaste originate, the difference between Namaskar and Namaste, and how can you use Namaste to benefit your yoga practice.

What does Namaste mean?

Have you heard your yoga teacher say " Namaste" at the end of a yoga class and wondered what it really means? I can help!

The Sanskrit origins of the word are ' Namah' meaning a 'bow', and ' te' meaning 'you.' Put them together and this is a salutation literally meaning 'I bow to you.'

In yoga classes, the word is often more romantically explained as 'the spirit in me honours the spirit in you', or 'the light in me honours the light in you.'

Namaste is also a gesture or “ mudra” that you can perform. Although in the West, the term is usually spoken alongside the Namaste gesture, in India, some yogis use the gesture itself to mean Namaste, without the need to speak the term aloud.

To try the Namaste position, simply put your hands in prayer at the heart, fingertips pointing upwards. Then take a small bow, saying Namaste as you bend.  Calming, isn’t it?

How is Namaste pronounced in English? 

Although the pronunciation of Namaste differs slightly throughout different parts of India, the first two syllables should be pronounced with more of an "uh" sound than an "ah" sound as it is often misspoken in the West. Therefore, Namaste should be read as "Num-uh-stay". Yes, I agree - there’s definitely a t-shirt in there somewhere.


Where did Namaste originate? 

Namaste is not just a yogic term. Although Namaste began in the East as a method of expressing deep respect, it is now used as a common Indian greeting. It can be used by anyone, to greet anyone – from strangers to family and friends – at any time of day.

Namaste can also be spoken as a sign of sincere gratitude and respect to another. In the Hindu religion, Namaste is used for reflecting the belief that the divine self, or “atman”, is present in everyone.


When does Namaste originate from?

Namaste is a much older term than you may have thought.

The word Namaste is used as a greeting in the Vedas, which are a huge body of ancient texts originating in India, all written in Sanskrit. The Vedas are made up of texts of spiritual literature, religious knowledge, and Hindu scripture. " Vedic", from the Sanskrit word “ veda”, means knowledge or revelation. Although it is said that the Vedas were written thousands of years ago, the words within the texts were spoken and taught for a long time before they were ever written down.

 

When do you use Namaste?

You can incorporate Namaste into your practice whether you do yoga by yourself or with other people. 

If you want to use it when you’re alone you can say it aloud to open and close your yoga or meditation session. Try closing your eyes, inhaling deeply, and saying Namaste as you exhale. This can deepen your meditation, by allowing you to surrender your thoughts and give thanks to the world. 

However, Namaste is most often used at the beginning and conclusion of yoga classes, when the teacher will say the term to their fellow yogis, who will repeat it back, as a sign of mutual gratitude towards each other. Simply repeating Namaste at the end of a class can bring you back from focusing on the self in yoga, to connecting with others around you. Saying Namaste at the end of a yoga session also shows respect and thankfulness to the yoga teachers of the past – connecting yogis past and present. 

 

What is the difference between Namaskar and Namaste??

You may have heard some people say Namaskar instead of Namaste. No, they haven’t mispronounced Namaste completely – although they sound very similar and mean more or less the same thing, they are used in different ways.

They both offer salutations to another and both can be used as greetings or gestures of respect. However, Namaskar, pronounced “Nuh-muh-skar", is more formal and translates as “I pay my salutations.”

You can practice a Namaskar bow, much as you would the Namaste bow, in yoga or as a greeting. Place your hands together at the chest in the prayer position, palms touching. Then take a bow, as you say " Namaskar".

 

Namaste!



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Lucy Edge 

is a yoga advocate and writer with three yoga books to her name, including the beloved travel memoir Yoga School Dropout. She writes regularly for the national press, has authored over 150 guides to types of yoga and yoga poses, discovered nearly 250 proven health benefits of yoga through her painstaking classification of 300 clinical studies, and collected more than 500 personal testimonials to the real life benefits of yoga. She is also the creator of our yoga shop – YogaClicks.Store – handpicking yoga brands that are beautifully made by yogis committed to environmental and social sustainability.

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