What does Namaste mean?

What does Namaste mean, and how do I mean it?
Namaste, or namaskar, is a common greeting all over India and is often heard in many yoga classes in America. The offering is usually accompanied by the gesture of anjali mudra, in which the palms press together at the heart center, and a slight bow. Namah means ‘bow,’ ‘obeisance,’ ‘reverential salutation,’ or ‘adoration,’ and te means ‘to you.’ Therefore, namaste literally means "bowing to you." Putting words to this mystery of what sits deep within us is not so easy which is why we have multiple translations like, “The divine in me recognizes the divine in you,” or “the light in me sees the light in you,” or “the best in me recognizes and honors the best in you.”
Through investigation of the subtle realm the yogis sensed that deep within our heart centers each of us carries the spark of Divine Essence (or Love). The anjali mudra gesture implies, “I offer what sits in the deepest part of my heart to the deepest part of your heart.” This gesture perfectly communicates the meaning of namaste even when the word remains unspoken. Empty gestures feel empty, so key to communicating namaste with sincerity and truth is to feel the meaning for real as you offer respect to the unknown that animates the cosmos. Our hearts are beating, our breath is breathing, the sun is shining, the rivers are running to the ocean, and the stars are twinkling all without any help from us. We have no idea how any of this magical life is happening. Bowing to each other with the anjali mudra and the greeting of namaste honors and respects the great mystery from which we all emanate and will most likely return.

Try this exercise

To play with communicating namaste from a deeper place, find a yogi friend. Stand or sit, facing each other. Round 1: Press your palms together, look at your friend, and say the greeting, “Namaste.” Have your friend do the same.
Round 2: Close your eyes and allow your awareness to rest in your heart center. Soften your face, especially around your eyes and jaw. Allow yourself to be aware of the movement of your breath in the center of your chest. Let your mind feel spacious, like the blue sky. Now, tenderly press your palms together and feel their meeting. Maintaining your awareness in your heart space, open your eyes, look at your friend from your heart region, and say, “Namaste.” Notice the difference. Switch roles. Notice how it feels to give and receive the acknowledgement of the mystery from where it sits.
Kira Sloane
About the Author

Kira Sloane

Kira is fascinated by the study of what Is and loves to examine the ordinary every day miracles.


No comments yet. Be the first!

You need to be a subscriber to post a comment.

Please Log In or Create an Account to start your free trial.

Footer Yoga Anytime Logo

Just Show Up

Over 2,900 yoga and meditation practices to bring you Home.

15-Day Free Trial