You may never need to learn the Sanskrit names of the yoga poses you practice, but there are other ways you might be engaging with this ancient language regularly, for example using the word ‘Namaste’. But do you know what does namaste mean and in which context it is used?
Namaste is commonly used as a greeting in South Asia, in yoga and meditation practices, but also can be incorporated into chanting. It is a Sanskrit word that is composed of three smaller words: nama means ‘bow,’ as means ‘I,’ and te means ‘you.’ In English Namaste means “I bow to you.”
The gesture of Namaste, which is often accompanied by the word, is performed by pressing the palms together in front of the heart and bowing the head. It is a symbol of respect and honor and is often used to acknowledge the divine spark within each person.
Let’s dive deeper into the world of this beautiful word.
What does Namaste mean?
The word “namaste” has its roots in ancient Indian culture and is derived from the Sanskrit language. The gesture of namaste was used as a sign of respect and honor towards people of higher status or authority, such as kings, priests, and teachers. It was also used as a sign of respect towards the divine and was commonly used in religious and spiritual contexts.
As Buddhism spread from India to other parts of Asia, the gesture and the word “namaste” were adopted and incorporated into the cultures of those regions. The gesture and the word continue to be widely used in India and Nepal, as well as other parts of South Asia.
Overall, the word “namaste” and the gesture that accompanies it has a long history rooted in ancient Indian culture, and it continues to be widely used in spiritual and cultural contexts. It is used in both formal and informal settings and can be used among friends, family, and strangers. This gesture is a symbol of respect and honor and is often used to acknowledge the divine spark within each person.
What does Namaste mean in yoga?
In recent times, “namaste” also gained popularity in Western cultures, particularly in yoga communities, where it is often used as a way to begin and end a yoga class and is sometimes used as a way to show respect to the teacher or to other students.
But Namaste has a deeper meaning; it is more than just a salutation at the end of a yoga class. It can be viewed as a prayer or a declaration. We are all Divine creations. So, when we bow to one another with this greeting, we acknowledge that Divinity is within us and share it between us. “I share the Divine in me with the Divine in you.” This is what is expressed when you say Namaste. It is fitting, then, that it is used as an opening or closing for a yoga class. After your practice, whether it’s a Restorative Yoga class or a Kundalini Yoga class, what has happened during the session is a transformation, a revealing of the truest self. We acknowledge that truth before departing the yoga class.
Sanskrit language in your yoga class
When you attend a yoga class, you may encounter some very interesting and curious words that you normally do not hear in everyday life. Besides greeting you with Namaste and opening the class with a chant Om, you will also hear a few other Sanskrit words like:
Asna – yoga pose
Ujjayi–yoga/meditation breathing technique known as “ocean-sounding breathing”
Guru – Spiritual teacher
Mudra – a symbolic hand gesture, the “seal”
In addition, the yoga teacher will guide you through the specific yoga postures designed to build strength in your thighs, lengthen your spine, or open tight hips, and instead of English names, like Warrior Two, Downward Facing Dog, or Pigeon Pose you might hear him or her say Virabhadrasana Dve (Warrior Two), Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog), Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (One-Legged King Pigeon Pose).
You don’t have to separately study the names of yoga poses in Sanskrit to be able to reap the benefits of this practice. If you show up in your yoga class regularly, you will learn by heart the chants, the names, and the meaning of Sanskrit words that your yoga instructor is using. It will come naturally and without effort.
What does Om Shanti Namaste mean?
‘Om Shanti Namaste’ is a phrase that is often used to greet or bid farewell in yoga, meditation, and a spiritual context. It is a way of wishing for peace and harmony, acknowledging the Divine within each person, and expressing gratitude. It is often referred to as a blessing.
‘Om’ is a sacred sound and symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. It is believed to be the sound of the universe and represents the ultimate reality, consciousness, and the divine.
‘Shanti’ is a word in Sanskrit that means “peace,” “calm,” “tranquility,” or “quiet.” It is often used as a greeting or a farewell and is used to wish for peace, harmony, and well-being.
‘Namaste’ is a common greeting in India, Nepal, and other parts of South Asia, and is a symbol of respect.