When you finish your yoga class, you may see your instructor and fellow participants putting their palms together, slightly bowing their heads and saying the word “namaste.” The word is both a gesture and a greeting or closing. Namaste has several meanings on a mental, physical and verbal level for yoga instructors and practitioners. Knowing its purpose can help you put greater meaning behind the word.
Namaste can be broken down into its constituent parts to describe its meaning. The word “nama” means “to bow,” while “as” is translated as “I.” Finally, “te” means to you. Putting this together, namaste means “I bow to you.” The deeper meaning of namaste is that of respect, from one yoga practioner to another. “For a teacher and student, namaste allows two individuals to come together energetically to a place of connection and timelessness, free from the bonds of ego-connection,” Aadil Palkhivala, an advanced yoga instructor, said in “Yoga Journal.”
In addition to saying namaste at the end of yoga class, you also make hand motions to accompany the words. The motion is that of bringing the hands in front of the heart. When you bow your head and pull the hands to the heart, you are opening your heart to others and going deep inside your own heart. The movement is a form of short meditation itself and also one of surrender when you bow your head.
When you say namaste, the ideal mindset is one of peace, energy and respect, according to Palkhivala. Once your teacher says namaste, you should say it in return as a reminder of the value of practicing yoga in your life. Namaste may be used as a greeting or closing, but in both instances it can help you connect with your instructor, which can in turn improve your yoga practice.
While namaste is likely the most popular spoken ending to a yoga class, other words may be said, depending on the yoga studio and instructor. These include saying “sayonara,” “thank you,” “peace be with you” or “om nama sivaya.” Some may not use a word at all, but instead will put the hands in front of the heart and bow the head slightly. If you are taking a new class, you may want to ask fellow practitioners or your instructor about the customary closing.