How often do Indians say Namaste
Namasté: a greeting with profound meaning
If this blog caught your interest, you probably already have "Namasté" heard - I guess that Namasté in yoga of your last visit to the studio.
Or maybe you've just returned from a trip to India and are wondering what it's all about when an Indian calls out “Namaskar” or simply brings his hands together in front of his chest without saying anything.
In this blog I want to shed light on the darkness and explain what the meaning is all about, what that Namaste Mudra signals and how to use it correctly.
One thing first: Namasté has a much deeper meaning than "Hello" or "It was nice with you, bye".
It's worth taking a look behind the scenes.
Where does “Namasté” come from and what it means
First to the roots and the translation: Namasté is Sanskrit.
Not Hindu, Greek, or an Indian word adapted for the West.
Sanskrit is an old Indian language that was used in particular for the transmission of the Vedas. Today Sanskrit is no longer used as a language in the traditional sense, but especially in yoga we still refer to many terms from this millennia-old tradition.
Namasté is mentioned for the first time in one of the ancient Indian texts, the Rigveda.
"Nama" means "bow" and "ste" "to you", so Namasté means "bow to you" or "I bow to you".
One or the other may flinch and wonder whether this is a religious act.
The answer is yes and no.
Namasté is a greeting that values the other person and pays them respect.
The word and the gesture - more on that later - have an everyday purpose, namely to say hello and goodbye.
However, there is more to Namasté than just “Hello” or “Bye”.
When we meet another person with Namasté, we also recognize the individual soul and the divine spark in the heart of the other.
This has an appreciative character and signals that something higher resides in the other. Namasté does not mean, however, that bowing means expressing a lower position.
In other words, in the words of Mahatma Gandhi when asked what Namasté means:
I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides. I honor the place of light, love, truth, peace and wisdom in you. I honor the place in you where, when you are there and I am there too, we are both one.
Why a yoga class begins and ends with the special greeting
Namaste is used as a greeting when you meet or say goodbye to another person or group of people.
Now, in addition to the deeper meaning of the recognition of the soul and the divine spark, Namasté has another function: It is there to express our unity.
This is a wonderful gesture for the beginning and the end of every yoga class.
If we unite in the symbolic value of the greeting, a connection is created between students and teachers that is beyond roles. The same applies to the connection between students, so that we give space to a feeling of unity and the question of who is particularly flexible or who can easily stand upside down takes a back seat.
If we are attentive, we can also perceive a crucial difference between the namasté at the beginning and the end of the lesson.
Often the energy in the room has developed positively in the course of practice, we feel calmer, more balanced and internally satisfied. This is expressed in the Namasté at the end of the lesson. It also enables teachers and students to express their mutual gratitude.
The use of Namasté is in no way limited to the beginning and the end of a yoga class.
In India we meet a shopkeeper, a taxi driver or a chai seller with a friendly Namasté. It's an everyday way of greeting.
When an Indian says “Namaskar”, he is simply using a more formal version. The actual act of greeting is again called Namaskara.
How Namaste Is Done Right
Namasté is much more than a greeting, we now know that. And the same applies to its execution. Of course you can simply “call out” a Namasté, but the Indians have found a way to express the deeper meaning: with a hand gesture, namely that Anjali Mudra where Anjali means “gift” or “gift” and Mudra means “gesture”.
For the Anjali Mudra, the hands are brought together in front of the heart so that they fit together exactly.
The fingertips point towards the chin and we can also bend our head a little towards the hands.
We bring our hands in front of our heart chakra to connect with it; after all, this is where our divine spark lives.
From a yogic point of view, the hand position has an energetic effect as we not only connect the hands but also the two halves of the brain and bring them into harmony. And as mentioned, we also open our heart chakra.
Alternatively, the hands can also be brought to the forehead. That expresses a far deeper respect and increased reverence. You will probably see this gesture less in your home country or in a yoga class. In India, however, it is not exceptional.
Speaking of India: there Namasté is often expressed by gesture alone, without saying the word.
So the Indians have internalized the deeper meaning of Namasté in such a way that it does not need any vocal underlining. I think we can still learn something from this in the west, right?
What Namasté also brings with it
Here in the west, Namasté has had to subordinate itself to pop culture and is conveyed more as an icon.
It is probably about time that the deeper meaning came to the fore again.
The simple gesture enables us to come together in our unity, to see the other as something higher, far removed from our ego and identities.
This promotes mutual respect and the recognition of an individual who has all the universal potential.
If the idea of seeing the other as something higher is a bit too esoteric for you, concentrate on the human potential of the other.
We are all born with individual abilities that are waiting to be fully developed.
Everyone has a very specific gift that makes them unique. And that's absolutely creditable, isn't it?
Now I would like to close this article with a small appeal.
How about if we give the way we meet each other a deeper meaning like that of Namasté?
Admittedly, it might be a bit strange to greet the baker around the corner or the bus driver with Namasté from now on. But as we have seen, the gesture can also be entirely non-verbal.
And would the world not be a little more beautiful if we treated each other with the respect of Soul to soul would encounter?
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Maybe you want to experiment a little. I look forward to your report in the comments.
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